Meeting 80 immigrants assisted by members of a Rome parish, Pope Francis said leaving one’s homeland is always painful, but faith can give one the strength to keep going.
“The faith that your parents instilled in you will help you move forward,” the pope told the immigrants Jan. 19 in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus near Rome’s central train station. Read more
Choice to refuse life-extending treatment differs from suicide
In the context of a widespread prevailing medical and social praxis that endanger that value of life perennially defended by the Catholic Church, it can be useful to offer some reflections on end-of-life issues, specifically on the difference between refusing extraordinary measures and suicide (both doctor-assisted and ‘autonomous’).
A convention held recently at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome on bioethics and end-of-life issues highlighted a number of fields where the Catholic perspective is in sharp conflict with either current medical practice, and trends threatening to go beyond de facto practice silently occurring between doctor, patient, and relatives in hospitals across the world, to become legislated practices, endorsed by law. One such field merits perhaps special attention, due to the likelihood that a given individual is to come across such a situation in the course of his or her life: the moral question regarding the refusal of possibly life-extending treatment, and the ensuing questions of whether this constitutes suicide, or differs moreover from the refusal of food and water. Read more
Colosseum hosts exhibit on 1,700th anniversary of Edict of Milan
The Roman Colosseum is the 39th most visited monument in the world. Four million visitors a year enjoy tales of blood and gore, but this spring the monument has taken on a new guise. A new exhibition, “Constantine,” held at the Colosseum, celebrates the 1,700th anniversary of religious liberty, awarded to Rome by the man held to be the first Christian emperor.
Tucked away on the second floor, under the seating and away from the arena, a surprising array of objects recounts the tale of Rome in the fourth century, on the eve of its complete conversion in 385. The exhibition began in Milan and celebrated the February anniversary a stone’s throw from where Emperors Constantine and Licinius signed the edict that did away with imperial persecutions and put the Christians on equal footing with the other religions of the empire. By the end of the century, Emperor Theodosius would declare the Roman Empire completely Christian. Read more
Fr. Salvatore Perrella on the Mariology of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI
The pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and the Church’s study of Mary during the Second Vatican Council, have brought about a renewed and reinvigorated Mariology in our times, says the president of the Marianum Pontifical Theological Faculty.
Fr. Salvatore Perrella addressed the 23rd International Marian Mariological Congress, the week coinciding with Labor Day in the US, presenting the personal contribution that the Bishops of Rome have made to the deepening of the Marian doctrine of Vatican II, promulgated particularly in Chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church “Lumen Gentium” (“Light of Nations”).
According to Fr. Perrella, “The Council chose Mary as collaborator, Mother to the messianic work of the Son and her subordinate but effective salvific function” because “Mary’s living of the faith is singular and intimately related to the uniqueness of the mystery of Christ, she has a particular form of being in Christ, because of this Mary is Mother of the Church.”
The Council wished to stress that Mary is never an alternative to Christ; that devotion to Mary is integrated in the vision of faith that means recognizing the singularity of her role and of her way of being with Jesus Christ.
Counting the Marian documents, interventions, and messages published by the Pontiffs there is considerable growth. There were 25 written by Pius IX, 56 by Leo XIII, 37 by Pius X, 30 by Benedict XV, 309 by Pius XI, 470 by Pius XII, 501 by John XXIII, 315 by Paul VI, and 1,600 by John Paul II.
In the course of the closing address of Vatican II, Paul VI said on Nov. 21, 1964: “It is the first time that a Council presents such a vast synthesis of Catholic doctrine on the place that Mary Most Holy occupies in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.”
“Knowledge of true Catholic doctrine on Mary, will always constitute a key for the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church,” he added.
In the Apostolic Exhortation Signum magnum, Paul VI said that piety toward Mary is, for the Church, “an indisputable and unbreakable duty to the Mother of the Son of God.”
“It is an altogether singular devotion, required and founded on her theological prerogatives, attested by biblical texts, by the holy Fathers and by “Lumen Gentium” (“Light of Nations”) by which the Virgin is honored with special devotion, especially liturgical,” said the pontiff.
In regard to Blessed Pope John Paul II, Fr. Perrella said he was the doctor Marianus of our time because “in his intense and noteable teaching the Virgin was one of the most recurring and loved topics.”
The then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI, stressed that “in the Mother of the Redeemer and in Mariology itself all the topics of the faith are found.”
In conclusion, the president of the Marianum said that the years of the pontificates of Paul VI, of John Paul II and now of Benedict XVI, and, in a particular way, in guiding the doctrine of chapter 8 of “Lumen Gentium,” the Church with her teaching and theology have “re-motivated and renewed Mariology in a convincing way.”
For Fr. Perrella, “Chapter 8 of ‘Lumen Gentium’ has integrated Mary of Nazareth in the mystery of the Trinitarian God of Christ beginning with the Word of faith taking into due account the living Tradition of the Church, being careful to propose a doctrine that does not make dissension grow but inspires consensus and fraternal dialogue, in charity and truth, between the Church, Churches and the Christian confessions.”
The president of the Marianum confirmed that Mary has been present since the beginning of Christianity because of her person and her role and significance for the faith and for the life of faith, she has “become an indelible part of the ecclesial event, as the 2,000-year history of Christianity demonstrates read and interpreted on the important deposit of culture.”
Fr. Perrella concluded by stressing “may the Virgin Mary influence culture, modifying, purifying, and enriching it.”
Scholars are unlikely to agree anytime soon on the authenticity of a newly published text containing a reference to Jesus’ “wife.”
But the tiny papyrus fragment, purportedly dating to the fourth century AD, has already stirred interest in the early church’s attitudes toward marriage, sex and the role of women.
The fragment of papyrus with eight lines of Egyptian Coptic writing is the “only extant ancient text which explicitly portrays Jesus as referring to a wife,” wrote Karen L. King, historian of Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, in an academic paper she delivered Sept. 18 at an international Coptic studies conference in Rome.
“It does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married,” she wrote, “given the late date of the fragment and the probable date of original composition,” at the end of the second century.
The best source of evidence giving an account of Jesus’ life and ministry is still the Gospels in the New Testament, King told reporters the next day, “and they are silent about his marital status.”
But she said the fragment is “direct evidence” that early Christians started debating in the second century whether Jesus could have been married or not.
Fr. Juan Chapa, a New Testament scholar at the University of Navarra in Spain, said that the “Gospels don’t mention marriage, not because they wanted to hide something, but because it was clear that Jesus did not get married, and it’s consistent in the church’s tradition.”
He also noted that the gnostic gospel genre to which the fragment evidently belongs is one of stories about Jesus that mainly take place after the resurrection, using language that is heavily allegorical. Thus, he said, the fragment’s relevant words –”Jesus said to them, ‘My wife’”–were likely not meant as a literal assertion about the life of the historical Jesus.
King said that the significance of the fragment lies in the light it might shed on debates in the early church over the necessity of celibacy to living a holy life.
According to Michael Peppard, a professor of theology and Coptic language at Fordham University, a belief in asceticism saw rapid development in the second to fourth centuries, especially in Egypt where Christian monasticism was born.
Some bishops at the time “were saying that the highest ideal was asceticism,” which included renouncing “all the trappings and worries of material life,” including marriage.
But Peppard said other bishops in the same period “were figuring out how to give everyone their space,” and letting it be known it was all right for Christians to live in the world.
The new text published by King may be a sign of early Christians “pushing back” against asceticism and moving closer to mainstream Jewish attitudes “of blessing sex and procreation,” Peppard said.
Catholic teaching, Fr. Chapa said, holds that “Jesus’ celibacy, by differentiating him from other rabbis, underlines his unique mission to fulfill the kingdom of God, and shows how he embodied the love of God” by renouncing conjugal love.
King said the reference to Jesus’ wife could just be a symbol of the church, akin to the Gospel allegory of Jesus as bridegroom of the church.
“What if what’s missing is saying, ‘My wife is the church?’” King said.
But both Peppard and King argue that the word does refer to a real person, since the line just below it includes the words: “…she will be able to be my disciple. …”
The “wife” in question could be a “spiritual wife,” Peppard said. Other texts from the same period uphold “the image of an unconsummated spiritual marriage where the best kind of husband and wife live celibately,” he said.
King acknowledged that there would be continued debate over the authenticity of the fragment, whose paper trail goes back only to the 1980s.
“I would say it’s a forgery,” Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg who was attending the conference with King, told the Associated Press. “The script doesn’t look authentic” compared to other fourth-century Coptic papyri.
But Roger Bagnall, a papyrologist and director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, studied the handwriting, the grammar and how the ink was absorbed by the plant fibers, and concluded it was likely to date from the period between 350 and 400 AD.
“We can’t ever know or be 100 percent sure if it’s authentic or a forgery,” Peppard said.
King said any properly accredited scholar in the world is welcome to study the papyrus, and that criticism of her findings is part and parcel of any historical study.
“We want to do the best job we can with new historical data,” she said.
Fr. Chapa called King’s discovery “exciting,” and nothing for believing Catholics to fear.”Anything that helps us understand our past, to understand the history of the church and how the church defined herself in history,” he said, “is very valuable and positive.”
Contributing to this story was Francis X. Rocca in Rome.
Bishop of Hong Kong speaks of his diocese and relations with China
Five percent of Hong Kong residences are Catholic but this number, under the leadership of Bp. John Tong, is growing. The prelate is a member of the Vatican’s Commission on China and, as he says, the relations with the government in China are warm and open, but he will not sacrifice what he calls “the bottom line.”
Mark Riedemann interviewed Bp. Tong for the weekly TV program Where God Weeps in cooperation with Aid the Church in Need.
Q: Your Excellency, you were born in Hong Kong but you soon moved to China.
Bp. Tong: …because the Japanese invaded Hong Kong…
Q: In this time your family was not Christian, not a Catholic family. How did you come to the Catholic faith in communist China?
Bp. Tong: My mother studied at a high school run by the Canossian Sisters in Hong Kong. After the war, she decided to join the Catholic Church. She was the first to convert. We all followed shortly. We were all baptized in Guangzhou, in Canton, China. The faith was planted when she was at a Catholic high school.
Q: One inspiration to your own vocation was one such missionary?
Bp. Tong: After the Second World War, the nationalists and the communists in China started to fight against each other. We lived very close to the Mission Chapel. We were very close to the church and close to the priest. I witnessed every day, the many refugees and wounded soldiers gathering around the church requesting money, food and all kinds of help. The pastor was an American missionary, a Maryknoll, and he was filled with Christ’s love and this is the inspiration I saw–and it inspired me–his good example. I told myself, as a young boy, that when I grow up I wish to be like him. In 1951, all foreign missionaries were expelled. The Church in China, in Guangzhou and the many Catholics told us that it was better to leave China. Those Catholics also told me to be an altar boy and perhaps join the seminary. I was too young at that time and I did not have the maturity and the in-depth knowledge of the priesthood, but the good example of our pastor planted the seed of the priestly vocation in my heart. The difficult situation at that time facilitated my decision to be a priest. My parents did not hesitate and readily agreed saying: “Why not, you can leave China, go ahead” and slowly, slowly my vocation deepened.
Q: You are the bishop of Hong Kong and you focus on evangelization. You have chosen two symbols to represent your work on evangelization; one is a water reservoir and the second the washing of hands. Why are these two symbols important to you in your work of evangelization and what do these symbols mean?
Bp. Tong: In the olden days in Honk Kong, we needed the reservoir to have enough water for drinking and washing. It is very important for life. There is a Chinese proverb: “Unless the water is running, it is dead water.” It does not become useful. So the reservoir symbolises the receiving of water and at the same time this water has to be used and shared otherwise the water that is unused becomes dead water. In applying this symbolism to evangelization, if we receive our faith we have to share it faith with others like the water in the reservoir. In sharing our faith, our faith deepens. The washing of hands is symbolic of mutuality and reciprocity. It is like the “bridge work” I do in China. On one hand, we help the Church in China with the revival and at the same time we learn from them, from the difficulties they face in practicing their faith. So we share our faith with them and we learn from their suffering and this is the symbol of the washing of hands.
Q: Your Excellency, evangelization has been having wonderful success in Hong Kong. In previous years you have had about 2,000-3,000 adult conversions. What is it that is provoking such a positive response among the adults in Hong Kong?
Bp. Tong: I think conversion depends on the Holy Spirit, on God’s grace; no matter how great our efforts, without God’s grace the people will not open their hearts. That is the first. Secondly, God always uses us as instruments of evangelization. Therefore, we should try our best. In a pastoral letter, I told my people about my four dreams. The first is about evangelization. We should increase the number of converts. The second is vocation. The number of vocations is far from ideal. We need the Catholics to have the mission mentality. We need priests to instruct the Catholics. The third is about caring for the Catholics from other nationalities. Aside from 350,000 Chinese Catholics, we have 180,000 from other nationalities of which two thirds are women from the Philippines who are in Hong Kong as domestic workers. The fourth is to be a bridge to the Catholics in China.
Q: You see the Church in Hong Kong as a sister Church, as a bridge to China. How do you see the role of Hong Kong Catholics with the Chinese Catholics?
Bp. Tong: Card. Wu always mentioned that because of our common language and blood, we are of the same nationality. All the Catholics should show their concern to China. We should do more because of our cultural and geographical proximity; we should be the “bridge” Church. To put it in a more concrete way: what would be the role of a bridge Church? There is some distance and there is always a conflict between the underground and the open Church. The goal of being the bridge is to reconcile among these various groups and to promote full communion of the Church in China with the Universal Church and with the Holy Father. This is our role.
This interview was conducted by Mark Riedemann for “Where God Weeps,” a weekly television and radio show produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network in conjunction with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
Tell pope in Lebanon of grave situation for Christians
The archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraq, is hoping Benedict XVI’s trip to Lebanon Sept. 14-16 will motivate bishops of the Middle East to speak openly with the pontiff about the danger of Christianity fading away from the region. Abp. Louis Sako told the charity Aid to the Church in Need Christian leaders should “go beyond the formalities” to spell out their concerns for the survival of the faith when they see the pope during his trip to the Middle East.
Abp. Sako underlined the extent of the Christian exodus from the Middle East, saying that it showed no sign of stopping and indeed had spread from Iraq to other countries, notably Syria. He also said that, despite considerable political discussion, extremism, and sectarianism are growing and that in response Christians are leaving the region that had been home to their families for thousands of years.
“The rise of political Islam is a matter of worry,” the archbishop said. “We Christians are a minority and there is no prospect of us gaining equal citizenship in the concrete reality of day-to-day life and there is no vision of a better future.
“Everyone is speaking of democracy and freedom but the reality on the ground is different.”The sectarianism is gaining ground and the majority are not taking care of minority groups. I think there are real fears of more Christians leaving.” He described the difficulty of encouraging faithful in his Diocese of Kirkuk to stay, saying many if not most have left.” From my diocese there are few families left. I cannot stop them [leaving] and speaking truthfully I have no magic solutions.
“I am doing my best to keep them, defend them, and encourage them. That has limited the problem but it is sad to see them leaving for good. As a pastor, I feel bad.” Abp. Sako reiterated that Christians feel like second-class citizens in a state based on Islam. He also acknowledged that some Christians get discouraged by a lack of strong Church leadership.
“Our hierarchy has become tired and it is sad to say we are sometimes divided,” he admitted.” It is necessary today to develop a Christian Arab theology able to announce the word of God to Arab Christians–and those who are not Christians–and help them to discover God’s love and paternal presence, enhancing dialogue and strengthening co-existence,” he reflected. “This theology does not mean isolation from the theology of the Universal Church but rather one which interacts with events and hence assists the Eastern Church with its mission.”
For the first time, the Pontifical North American College took home the champion’s title in the Clericus Cup soccer series.
To the cheers of superheroes and other fans in the stands, the NAC Martyrs beat last year’s champions, the Pontifical Gregorian University, 3-0, in the final playoff May 12.
“We pretty much controlled the entire game. There was no risk of conceding a goal as long as the offense did their job,” the final win was in the bag, third-year seminarian John Gibson of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said.
Gibson scored two goals in the first half and Scottie Gratton of the Diocese of Burlington, VT, netted the final goal. Playing for the Martyrs, Lewi Barakat of the Archdiocese of Sydney provided all three assists in the game.
Card. George Pell of Sydney sat with the US players to lend his support to the sole Australian on the predominately North American team.
“Australia has played an important part of the team,” Gibson said, “They’re a great presence in the house and on the team.”
Australia doesn’t have its own seminary in Rome, so a dozen or so Australians live at the North American College each year.
The NAC Martyrs finished second in the Clericus Cup in 2009 and 2010, and third in 2008. The soccer championship exclusively for priests and seminarians in Rome was established in 2007.
The weekend win “has been a long time coming. The team worked really hard and we’re really overjoyed,” Gibson said.
Known for their lively fan base, the Martyrs had a costumed pirate, Captain America, Spiderman, Wolverine, a Native American chief, a fluffy yellow chicken, and a Ninja Turtle cheering the team on.
A number of American students studying at US universities with campuses in Rome also attended the final game “to support us and show their love for America,” Gibson said.
Slawomir Oder was born in Chelmza, Poland, in 1960, and was ordained a priest 28 years later at Pelplinie, though the majority of his priestly life has been spent in Rome.
The life of this young Polish priest changed radically when Card. Camillo Ruini, then the pope’s vicar for the Diocese of Rome, assigned him the task of postulator in the process of beatification of John Paul II.
For Msgr. Oder, this was “the adventure of his life,” which enriched him as a priest and as a man.
On the occasion of the seventh anniversary of John Paul II’s death (April 2, 2005) and the first anniversary of his beatification (May 1, 2011), Msgr. Oder sat down to recall the intense years of the process, but also to speak about devotion to the new Blessed and the possibilities of canonization.
How did you live 2011, the year of John Paul II’s beatification?
Msgr. Oder: The year 2011 was a very particular one for me: On May 1 the ceremony of John Paul II’s beatification took place and on Oct. 22 the first liturgical feast of the new Blessed was celebrated. Thus last year, after six years of intense work, I attained an important goal: the Church was finally able to offer the people of God and the world the splendid figure of the new Blessed. However, the year 2011 marked only the first stage because the process has not halted. From the theological point of view, there is little change between “saints” and “blessed.” What does change, instead, is the extent of the devotion: for a blessed the devotion proposed is local, but in the case of the saint the devotion is universal. The involvement of the pontifical authority also changes: the pronouncement on sanctity, that is, canonization, involves the Pontiff’s infallibility.
Does this mean that the process of the cause is not carried out again for the canonization of a blessed?
Msgr. Oder: In regard to canonization, the process is not carried out again to ascertain heroic virtue because this heroism has already been ascertained. To be able to attain the goal of canonization the practice of the Church requires a second miracle, which must occur after the day of beatification.
Let’s return to the years of the process: What were the salient moments of the cause of beatification that have remained impressed in your mind?
Msgr. Oder: Undoubtedly the moment when the cardinal-vicar of the Diocese of Rome entrusted this task to me. It was the day of Benedict XVI’s visit to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, his first meeting with the clergy of Rome. On the same day the pontiff made known his decision to dispense with the waiting period for the opening of the process. It was a great sign of the cardinal’s confidence in me. I am judiciary vicar and already then I was working as president of the Court of Appeal of the Vicariate of Rome. This new reality was added to my daily work. It was a great professional but also personal challenge because I had to reorganize my life completely.
The second important instance was the opening of the process, the day of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul with the presence of representatives of the local Churches, among them the Church of Rome and the Church of Poland, but also representatives of Sister Churches, such as the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The ecumenical character of the opening of the process corresponded with one of the most significant traits of John Paul II’s pontificate, namely, the ecumenical dimension.
Then the procedural work followed: the collection of documents and the meetings with witnesses. Among the witnesses were persons that, together with the pope, contributed to changing contemporary history. From the human point of view, I lived the beautiful experience of being able to meet these great protagonists of history.
A very emotional moment occurred when, shortly after the opening of the process, I was called to France to learn of the event that the Church later recognized as miraculous: the healing of Sr. Simon Pierre. I was very overwhelmed by that moment.
I don’t hide the emotions with which I lived the procedural stages: the consignment of the Positio, the recognition of the miracle and the promulgation of the decree on the heroism of the virtues.
However, the most gratifying moment for me was the exchange of peace with the Holy Father during the Mass of Beatification. On one hand I saw Pope Benedict XVI’s great joy, who from the beginning wished to accompany this process with his benevolence, discreet prayer and several homilies and interventions, which were his indirect contribution to this process.
On the other hand, immediately after the Mass, when I left St. Peter’s Square, I saw the enthusiasm of the people from all over the world, the Church in celebration; then I felt great gratitude to God and great personal satisfaction.
What was it like to “investigate” John Paul II’s sanctity?
Msgr. Oder: The process of beatification became for me the adventure to see up close a priestly history, because John Paul II was pontiff, cardinal and bishop, but he always remained a priest. He lived all his life with the priestly spirit. “To investigate” John Paul II made it possible for me to come close to a splendid example of priesthood, which enthused me, reinforced my vocation and gave me much stimulation for personal growth.
According to established practice, devotion to Blessed John Paul II should be limited to Italy and Poland. However, we hear about requests from other parts of the world to authorize devotion to the Blessed. What can you tell us about this?
Msgr. Oder: It’s true that the beatification has the characteristic that it concerns the local Church, but since the beginning, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments gave to local episcopates the possibility to request from the congregation itself the ability to celebrate the feast of the new Blessed, taking into account the global dimension of devotion to a person like John Paul II. So, many episcopates have taken advantage of this possibility and have inscribed in the calendar of the local Churches the feast of Blessed John Paul.
We also see the phenomenon of devotion to the relics of Blessed John Paul II. Every day thousands of faithful pray at his tomb in St. Peter’s. But we also have the phenomenon of pilgrimages to places where his relics are found.
Msgr. Oder: It’s a phenomenon that arose spontaneously, initially, with the requests of individual persons who asked for a holy picture with a relic ex indumentis of the Blessed. Since the devotion was permitted, it is possible to dedicate churches to Blessed John Paul. Several bishops have asked for relics to have them in their dioceses, in a church, or a seminary. Then, to continue symbolically in some way the style of his pontificate–the itinerant style of the pilgrim of love and peace–his relics have begun to go on pilgrimage. The first “coming out” of the relics was for the World Youth Day of Madrid where they remained as a sign. Then the relics left for Mexico.
How did that second pilgrimage take place–you participated personally?
Msgr. Oder: The pilgrimage in Mexico took place from last October until the end of the month of December in all the dioceses of the country. I took part personally in part of it. It was an overwhelming experience, because the Mexican people lived it as if it were another visit from John Paul II. After Mexico also some bishops of Colombia requested the presence of the relics. At present the relics are in Nigeria.
Does the risk exist of misinterpreting devotion to the relics?
Msgr. Oder: The risk exists but it is always necessary to remember that it is not about a magical aspect: the relics are a sign of the presence of saints in our midst, the historical and concrete sign. It’s not a magical reality but a recalling of the person’s values, of his teaching. I must say that all the experiences of the pilgrimage left me very edified, because the people were prepared with a worthy spirit, with catechesis, with the [groundwork] of the pope’s teaching.
I would like to return for a moment to your visit to Mexico. What Church and what religiosity did you see in that country?
Msgr. Oder: I found a living, joyful Church full of hope. A Church with much popular religiosity, but not because of this any less authentic and profound. The visit of the relics was an occasion to renew ardor for the Eucharist, to listen to the Word of God and, above all, an invitation to conversion. I was told that the passage of the relics was marked by so many conversions and confessions. This is a sign that interest in the Blessed’s relics is not just based on human curiosity, but on listening to the Spirit who speaks to the Church and to the faithful.
What is the role of the postulator after John Pau II’s beatification?
Msgr. Oder: Canonization does not require the reopening of the process on heroic virtue; this whole aspect, which was very demanding, now belongs to history. My work now consists of “vigilance” to be able to identify a miracle and proceed to the canonization. In the meantime the figure of the postulator has become a point of reference for this whole spiritual movement linked to the desire to know more about the message of the life and sanctity of John Paul II.
Blessed John Paul II said that every gift is a commitment. That is why I now gladly take part in several initiatives to be able to make a contribution to knowledge of the figure of the Blessed and his teachings. For me it is a duty to share with others all that I have received in these years lived as postulator, years that have been a real grace for me.
Can you tell us something about the miracles attributed to John Paul II pointed out in the postulation?
Msgr. Oder: I can say that the phenomenon we saw before the beatification did not stop with it: Many letters and testimonies continue to arrive in my office recounting graces received. Some are very interesting and significant. My attention is drawn to some cases in particular. I have asked for documentation to be able to go deeper into a case and, if the outcome is positive, then we will be able to start immediately with the process on the miracle. For the moment I’m still waiting and do not wish to go into details.
What can you say to people who want to know how much time must pass before the canonization of Blessed John Paul II?
Msgr. Oder: There are no limits established by the Code of Canon Law. Here one sees clearly that the Lord is the real protagonist of the process. When the Lord deems it opportune to give the Church this sign, the sign will come in an unmistakable way and we will know with certainty that the moment has come to proclaim John Paul II a saint of the Church.
How is a miracle ascertained, attributed to the intercession of John Paul II?
Msgr. Oder: The first verification is made by me in the postulation, obviously in collaboration with the experts. Once the goodness of the case is ascertained, a canonical process is instituted during which all the documentation is collected, then the so-called positio is prepared and everything goes to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Within the congregation, the medical consultation establishes if, from the point of view of the human sciences, the event is or is not explainable. Then, the Theological Commission must ascertain the nexus of causality between the invocation of the Blessed’s intercession and the effect obtained with a manifestation of Divine Grace.
When does everything go to the Holy Father?
Msgr. Oder: At the request of the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the Holy Father authorizes the publication of the decree that recognizes the miracle and that opens the way to canonization.
We hope to be able to read this decree in the pages of L’Osservatore Romano as soon as possible.