Vatican newspaper editor says Pope John Paul II was ‘martyr’

Pope John Paul II, who was shot at in 1981 and survived though with many health problems, was “an authentic martyred Pope,” said the editor-in-chief of the Vatincan’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Mario Agnes told an annual pro-Catholic political meeting recently that the stones in St. Peter's Square where John Paul's blood was shed should be preserved.

"These stones of St. Peter's Square where a bit of John Paul II's blood fell may be merited, and certainly merit being preserved as a historic document, because there fell the blood of an authentic martyred pope, hit in the full of his physical vitality, victim of an attack," he was quoted as saying by ANSA.

"The fact that he didn't die doesn't mean he wasn't a martyr," Agnes said.

The question of Pope John Paul II’s martyrdom emerged after Pope Benedict XVI announced May 13 that the late pontiff was being put on the fast track to sainthood. If declared a martyr, a miracle after his death would not be necessary for his beatification. A miracle would still be required, however, for his canonization.

Church officials had initially rejected the suggestion since John Paul lived for 24 years after the assassination attempt. However, some Vatican officials are no longer so reluctant to the idea.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, reportedly said last month it was up to theological experts to decide if the assassination attempt, as well as his long, public suffering before he died, warranted a declaration of martyrdom.

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