'Miracle nun' attends pope's anniversary

2nd April 2007, Comments 0 comments

ROME, April 2, 2007 (AFP) - A French nun "miraculously" cured of Parkinson's disease from beyond the grave by John Paul II was on hand for a solemn ceremony Monday concluding the first phase of the Polish pope's beatification process.

ROME, April 2, 2007 (AFP) - A French nun "miraculously" cured of Parkinson's disease from beyond the grave by John Paul II was on hand for a solemn ceremony Monday concluding the first phase of the Polish pope's beatification process.

The Vatican accepted several black metal chests, solemnly tied with red ribbons held in place with the Rome diocesan seal set in red wax, containing the dossier compiled on John Paul II's "life, virtues and reputation for saintliness".

Central to the dossier is the testimony of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, 46, who attributes her sudden recovery to the "miraculous" intercession by the late pope.

The event -- on the second anniversary of John Paul II's death from Parkinson's -- has drawn tens of thousands of pilgrims, especially from Poland, many clamouring for "instant sainthood" for the charismatic figure who reigned for nearly 27 years.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Vatican department concerned with sainthood, is under enormous pressure to expedite the process -- one that usually takes decades, if not centuries.

He told reporters Sunday: "If I were John Paul II, I myself would want an extremely rigourous investigation," Italian media reported.

Asked whether John Paul II could skip the step of beatification -- which would be unprecedented in the modern history of the Roman Catholic Church -- Martins told the daily La Repubblica: "Only the pope (Benedict XVI) has the unchallengeable power to pronounce on such a delicate matter."

At this juncture, the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints is tasked "exclusively" with "verifying ... all the expected requirements for proclaiming" John Paul II's beatification. "And no more," Martins said.

Convincing evidence of a miracle -- usually a medical cure with no scientific explanation -- is essential in the beatification process.

Sister Simon-Pierre was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, in 2001. She has testified that she was cured in June 2005 after praying to John Paul II, whose final years were marked by the disease.

John Paul II's candidacy for beatification -- the main stepping stone to becoming a saint -- has enjoyed fast-track treatment since Benedict waived the usual five-year waiting period, allowing the process to begin in May 2005, the month after he died.

The ceremony to hand over the dossier -- which contains thousands of pages -- is set for noon (1000 GMT) at Rome's Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano.

Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II's personal secretary for nearly 40 years and is now the archbishop of Krakow in southern Poland, was also present at the ceremony, as well as Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

Early Monday Dziwisz celebrated mass in the crypt of Saint Peter's Basilica, where John Paul II is buried just metres from the tomb of the Apostle Peter, a site that has become a place of pilgrimage.

Speaking to reporters afterward, he urged that "all the rules should be observed (for beatification and canonisation), without hurrying," the religious news agency I-media reported.

Late Monday afternoon, Pope Benedict will celebrate a mass in Saint Peter's Square in memory of his predecessor, who died on April 2, 2005, aged 84.

The quickest beatification procedure to date was that for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was beatified in 2003, six years after her death, after John Paul II himself waived the waiting period -- which is intended to prevent sentiments from clouding judgement soon after the death of a beloved candidate.

A second miracle is required for sainthood.

John Paul II is himself known as the greatest "saint maker" in the history of the Catholic Church, creating 482 saints.

The late pope's beatification process has not all been plain sailing. In December 2005, 11 dissident Catholic theologians insisted in a letter to the Vatican that the "negative" effects of his pontificate be investigated.

In particular they cited his rigidly conservative stand on issues such as contraception in a time of AIDS, the role of women and sexual abuse scandals within the Church.

"Contrary voices" have been taken into account in the beatification process, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, spearheading the process, has said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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