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Archbishop on the Beatification of John Paul II in The Sun
posted on 03 May 2011
Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Archbishop Vincent Nichols wrote an article which appeared in The Sun on 2 May 2011 on the Beatification of John Paul II.

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, explained why Pope John Paul II deserved the honour. He said: 'One of the most remarkable and lasting things about [John Paul II] was his bearing of suffering and illness and facing death with great faith and trust in Christ.'

One and a half million faithful saw Pope Benedict XVI declare his predeccesor Blessed at the Vatican City. Pope John Paul's beatification came six years after his death aged 84.

The full text of the Archbishop's article in The Sun is below.

'I think it would be right to call Pope John Paul II one of the heroes of the 20th Century.

That is why up to two million people attended a pre-beatification vigil and the beatification ceremony this weekend.

And I think it is interesting that Pope Benedict XVI, when he was elected six years ago, said he was not going to perform any beatification ceremonies personally but would delegate them. He has made only two exceptions.

The first was the beatification of Cardinal Newman, which he carried out on his visit to Britain last year, and this is the second one.

That is how important Pope Benedict thinks this is. It is not difficult to recall some of the outstanding impact John Paul had.

It started with his resistance against Communism, first as a young man, then as a Polish bishop and then, eventually, as Pope, when he gave his explicit support to the Solidarity movement.

In fact, some would say that morally he was the one who called the Solidarity movement into existence.

It was his understanding of the dignity of the person - that no human being should have to live under a tyranny which denies them the freedom to express themselves and their religious sensitivities. He was one of the greatest travellers of the 20th Century and the most seen person in the 20th Century and that is why there was such a return visit from all over the world to see him at the end.

Apart from the hundreds of thousands of young people, there were more state leaders at his funeral than there has been for any other single event in history. That was a measure of the stature of the man.None of that necessarily makes for holiness, so why should he be declared 'blessed'?

For that you need to look at his virtues; his courage throughout his life; his commitment to what he believed to be the truth and his willingness to follow that and not necessarily to look for popularity.

I think, perhaps, one of the most remarkable and lasting things about him was his bearing of suffering and illness and facing death with great faith and trust in Christ.

The miracle with which he is attributed - necessary for a beatification - was a cure experienced by religious sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, 49, of Aix-en-Provence in France.

In 2001 she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, the same illness that afflicted John Paul.

About two months after John Paul's death, she prayed to him and asked for his aid and almost straight away found that she could write legibly instead of a scrawl.

The next morning she woke up and her illness had inexplicably disappeared. She was at yesterday's ceremony in Rome.

If another miracle emerges and is verified after his beatification, he would be canonised as a saint.

The hundreds of thousands of young people who attended his funeral already thought he deserved to be regarded as one.

Clearly he inspired them throughout his life. The World Youth Days he started were the biggest mobilisation of young people ever in the cause of peace.

This weekend they were there again to celebrate his well-deserved beatification.'

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