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John Paul II declared Venerable, moves one step closer to sainthood
Venerable John Paul II
Venerable John Paul II

.- Pope Benedict XVI has signed a decree recognizing the late Pope John Paul II's life of “heroic virtue.” With his signature, Benedict XVI throws the door wide open to the beatification of the much-loved Polish Pontiff and gives him the title "Venerable."

On Saturday morning, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints led by Archbishop Angelo Amato met with Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate their 40th anniversary as a dicastery of the Holy See and to present decrees for papal approval.  Pope John Paul II's name was among the Congregation's nominations for those possessing “heroic virtue.”

The next step towards canonization of John Paul II is a second decree to be signed by the Pope that attributes a miracle to him.  It is thought that this miracle will be one that has already taken place but has not yet been officially recognized. The miracle involves a French nun who was cured of Parkinson´s disease through John Paul II's intercession.

Following the approval of his first miracle, Venerable Karol Woytilya would be eligible for beatification, and pending a second miracle, he could be declared a saint.

The Vatican has processed his case in record time.  Since the Pontiff´s death, less than five years have passed.  Five years is the normal amount of time that must go by before the Holy See can begin the investigation process. In this case, Pope Benedict made an exception just a little over a month after John Paul II's death in March of 2005.

Among other documents signed by Benedict XVI on Saturday morning were decrees authenticating the heroic virtue of Pope Pius XII, Pontiff during World War II; the martyrdom of Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Polish priest killed in 1984, and a second miracle attributed to Bless Mary McKillop, who will now become Australia's first saint.

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