Church leaders react to beatification decree for John Paul II with ‘great joy’
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland

.- Polish Catholic leaders reacted to the announcement of John Paul II’s beatification with enthusiasm and gratitude, praising the late Pope’s example to Poland and to the Church. The Archbishop of New York also reacted with “great joy” as he recalled memories of the Pope’s visits.

In a Jan. 14 audience Pope Benedict XVI approved the decree for the beatification of his predecessor. Doctors studied the miraculous healing of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand and ruled it was “scientifically unexplainable.” Following approval from theologians and church officials, Pope Benedict promulgated the decree.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II’s longtime personal secretary, expressed the “great pleasure” of the entire Archdiocese of Krakow and of the entire Polish people. He expressed “a huge thank you” to Pope Benedict XVI for the decree confirming the miracle.

He invoked the Italian phrase “santo subito,” which roughly means “saint now.” It was a phrase on the lips of many of John Paul II’s mourners who wanted him declared a saint immediately after his death. This phrase has been “fulfilled,” the cardinal said in a statement from the archdiocese.

"For us, John Paul II is a patron and protector. The life of the Holy Father was our guide to the direction of the sovereignty and independence of our country."

“Today we need such a guide, because in today's world it is not easy,” he commented.

The Polish bishops reacted to the decree of beatification with “joy and hope,” the Archdiocese of Warsaw reported. Bishops’ spokesman Fr. Jozef Kloch called the announcement “good news,” as John Paul II was a role model both as a man and as a Christian.

Fr. Kloch voiced hope that his teachings will be remembered, as they can “unite us again” in what is important both for the Church and for Poland.

In Katowice, Poland the faithful gathered at 9 p.m. in the crypt of the Cathedral of Christ the King. They held a candlelight procession to the nearby statue of John Paul II and then returned to the cathedral for prayers.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York gave an American reaction to the beatification announcement on his blog “The Gospel in the Digital Age.”

The announcement of John Paul II’s beatification is “an occasion of great joy and grace,” he wrote. Archbishop Dolan recalled the Pope’s three visits to New York.

“In so many ways we consider him to have been an honorary citizen of what he famously referred to as ‘The Capital of the World’,” the archbishop said. He recalled the late pontiff’s visits to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, his celebrations of Mass in Yankee Stadium in Central Park, his visit to St. Charles Borromeo Church in Harlem and to St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers.

These visits are “still fresh in our minds,” Archbishop Dolan continued. He recounted stories from people across the globe whose eyes “still sparkle with grateful memories.”

He said that those who had the chance to meet John Paul II felt that “that for those moments he was focused completely and totally on you, and that he truly saw in you a reflection of the image and likeness of God.”

The New York archbishop asked for prayers that John Paul II will soon be raised to the altars and be declared a blessed and eventually a saint of the Church.

John Paul II’s beatification was approved for May 1, 2011, Divine Mercy Sunday.

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