Pope John Paul II has been cleared by the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, for Sainthood. Local pastor at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Fr. Bill Reynolds, said he’s very deserving of the honor.
“When you think of John Paul II and the hope and joy he brought to the world and what he did to end the world of communism,” Reynolds said. “He was very responsible for the end of communism. Well, it’s not entirely ended, but where it’s ended was directly because of him.”
Reynolds said John Paul II’s work with Lech Walesa, who is a politician and trade union organizer, and other polish workers helped overthrow communism in Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe.
“The world owes him a great debt for what he did to significantly lessen the world of communism,” Reynolds said.
It isn’t common for popes to be granted sainthood and the process has been expedited for John Paul II. As it was when Pope John Paul II died, Polish pilgrims were in the Basilica chanting “Santo Subito!” which means “Saint now!” There are only 78 previous popes who have been granted Sainthood.
“There was a desire on the part of many of the faithful as soon as he died that he be granted sainthood,” Reynolds said.
John Paul II is also known for travelling a lot, being the first pope to visit Canada and Cuba. He was also the target to two assassination attempts and visited one of the assassins in prison. He openly forgave him.
“It’s a pretty powerful thing,” Reynolds said, “When someone tries to kill you and you forgive them and he did that rather soon after his recovery.”
Reynolds lived in Rome as a graduate student from 1986 to 1988 and went to several papal audiences, where John Paul II was very beloved by Polish pilgrims.
“It was just a really touching thing to see the Polish pilgrims waiving that solidarity banner. They all looked the same, but it was the banner from Poland for solidarity,” Reynolds said. “To see the joy those people had because it was a Polish Pope who brought them freedom.”
As part of the process for being made a saint, two miracles must be attributed to Pope John Paul II. The curing of French nun Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was attributed to Pope John Paul II. The second miracle attributed to him was the healing of a Costa Rican woman in 2011.