In his first days in office back in 2005, Pope Benedict considered but rejected the instant canonization of Pope John Paul II. That’s the claim being made by Andrea Tornielli, Vatican correspondent with the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
He writes April 27, “Pope Ratzinger did not decide on the spot. He knew his predecessor and had no doubts about his personal holiness. He wanted to consult first, though, and finally decided to waive the usual waiting period of five years (before opening the cause of canonization) but not to skip the step of beatification.”
Tornielli claims that the suggestion of instant canonization came from Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the private secretary to John Paul II. He also states that the idea of not waiting the standard five-year period before opening a cause of canonization was made by the Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, a close friend and confidant of John Paul II.
The cardinals of the Roman Curia, Tornielli says, were moved by the unbroken stream of people who filed past the body of Pope John Paul II following his death. They were touched by the cries particularly of young people, for “Santo Subito” or “Sainthood Now.”
The new Pope’s thinking, however, was guided by previous experience.
“Just two years earlier, in June 2003, a similar discussion had taken place in those hallowed halls as regards Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” writes Tornielli, “The then- Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, consulted in writing several cardinals of the Roman Curia on behalf of John Paul II to ask them what they thought of immediately proceeding with the proclamation of the Saint Mother Teresa, skipping the step of beatification. Pope John Paul II wasn’t averse to the idea but it didn’t happen because he chose to consider objections from those consulted.” Mother Theresa was then beatified in the October of that year. Her cause of canonization continues.
Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1. It will be the first time in nearly 1,000 years that a pontiff has beatified his immediate predecessor.