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Church firmly opposes firearms for civilians

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• Deacon Antonio Barreto

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Portrait of school offers insights into city that surrounds it

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placeholder January 24, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA

Mourners hold banners that read “sainthood now” during the funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 9, 2005.
CNS photo/Reuters
For many, beatification confirms
long-held sentiment

WASHINGTON — The news of Pope John Paul II’s upcoming beatification was welcomed by many as a confirmation of something they already felt from the moment the shouts of “Santo subito!” (“Sainthood now!”) reverberated through St. Peter’s Square at the pontiff’s funeral.

Pope John Paul II raises the Eucharist during the celebration of Mass in St. Louis during his last visit to the United States in January of 1999. Pope Benedict XVI approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession, clearing the way for th e late pope’s beatification on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday.
CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Many in the crowd were young people who had a special affinity to Pope John Paul, whose pontificate started and ended with a special greeting to young people. During his installation ceremony in 1978, the newly named pope told youths: “You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.”

And his last words, reportedly delivered hours before his death, were also to youths, in response to the thousands of young people praying and singing in St. Peter’s Square.

“I sought you and now you have come to me. . . . I thank you,” said the pontiff, who died April 2, 2005 at age 84.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, founder and CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Television, said it was no coincidence that he heard the news of the pontiff’s beatification while attending a meeting in Spain for the upcoming World Youth Day.
“A thunderous, sustained, standing ovation followed the announcement,” he said in a Jan. 14 statement.

The priest, national director for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, said the date for the beatification, May 1, is also no coincidence. Not only is it Divine Mercy Sunday, but it is also the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, known as “May Day” on secular calendars.

“Communists and socialists around the world commemorate May Day with marches, speeches and festivals,” he said, adding that it was fitting that “the man who was a unique instrument and messenger in bringing down the Iron Curtain and the deadly reign of communism and godlessness will be declared blessed” that day.

Father Rosica said the announcement is “the formal confirmation of what many of us always knew as we experienced the Holy Father in action throughout his pontificate” particularly among youths, noting that one of the pope’s gifts to the Church was his establishment of World Youth Day.

Tim Massie, the chief public affairs officer and adjunct professor of communication and religious studies at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., called the news of Pope John Paul II’s upcoming beatification a “morale boost” especially for Catholics in the United States “where sex abuse scandals, financial crises and disagreements with church hierarchy have dramatically affected parishes, dioceses and the faithful in the pews.”

Because of the pope’s extensive travels in the United States, he said, “there are literally millions of people who were touched by his charisma and holiness.” The pope visited the United States seven times and in each visit urged Catholics to use their freedom responsibly and to preserve the sacredness and value of human life.

In an e-mail to Catholic News Service, Massie said the “general public already considers John Paul II a saint and those who saw him, listened to him, prayed with him, already believed they met a saint — not a future saint, but someone who, like Mother Teresa, lived out the Gospel message in his everyday life.”

Michele Dillon, who chairs the department of sociology at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, said she believes most American Catholics will welcome John Paul II’s beatification.

She described him as the “first cosmopolitan pope for a cosmopolitan age, and his warm, energetic, and telegenic personality served him well on his many trips to all parts of the globe.”

Dennis Doyle, University of Dayton religious studies professor, noted that many U.S. Catholics didn’t understand the pope and wondered how he “could be liberal on social issues but yet so conservative on church issues. He was consistent in a way that was difficult for some people in the U.S. to understand.”

“But ultimately, he is being beatified because he was loved throughout the world and is recognized iconically as a holy person,” he added.

 
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