Pro-life champion John Paul II to be beatified

The late Pope is perhaps most known for his ardent promotion of the "culture of life," a term he popularized through his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae.
Fri Jan 14, 2011 - 12:51 pm EST

ROME, Italy, January 14, 2011 ( - Venerable John Paul II (1920-2005), a beloved model and leader to many in the pro-life and pro-family movement, is to be beatified on May 1st, the Vatican announced Friday.

The announcement comes after the miraculous healing of a French nun was confirmed Tuesday by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand, a religious of the ‘Institut des Petites Soeurs des Maternites Catholiques’ who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was determined to have made a scientifically inexplicable recovery, which has been attributed by the Vatican to the late pope’s intercession.

The beatification decree, issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, describes John Paul II’s pontificate as “an eloquent and clear sign, not only for Catholics, but also for world public opinion, for people of all colour and creed.”

The late Pope, who died April 2, 2005 after the third longest pontificate in Church history, was revered for his role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, his defense of theological orthodoxy, his painstaking efforts to implement an authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, and his many theological contributions, particularly through pioneering what is known as the theology of the body.

Yet he is perhaps most known for his ardent promotion of the “culture of life,” a term he popularized through his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae.  That encyclical not only included unequivocal condemnations of such evils as abortion, euthanasia, and artificial reproduction, but girded pro-life advocates with a meditation on the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of the “culture of death”.  The Pope laid the groundwork for a truly Christian response to the attacks against life in modern society, centered on the fundamental dignity of the human person.

He was clear, for example, on the urgency of combating the “contraceptive mentality” as part of the pro-life effort.  “Despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree,” he observed.  “The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.”

The beatification rite will be celebrated by Pope Benedict on May 1st, the Second Sunday of Easter, which John Paul II declared Divine Mercy Sunday.  As did John Paul II with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Pope Benedict dispensed with the usual five-year waiting period after a person’s death before the cause could be opened.

The late Pope was named Venerable by Pope Benedict on December 19, 2009, after he was determined to have exercised heroic virtue.

According to today’s decree of beatification, “The world’s reaction to his lifestyle, to the development of his apostolic mission, to the way he bore his suffering, to the decision to continue his Petrine mission to the end as willed by divine Providence, and finally, the reaction to his death, the popularity of the acclamation ‘Saint right now!’ which someone made on the day of his funerals, all this has its solid foundation in the experience of having met with the person who was the Pope.”

“The faithful have felt, have experienced that he is ‘God’s man’, who really sees the concrete steps and the mechanisms of contemporary world ‘in God’, in God’s perspective, with the eyes of a mystic who looks up to God only,” it adds.


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