Rome (AsiaNews) - Today, May 1, Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. From now on we can all turn to him for help and ask him to "be worthy of the promises of Christ", in short to be a bit 'more like him, the Polish pope.
Of course for now worship is established only for the diocese of Rome and Poland, but since the day of his death, prayers have been lifted to him from across the world just from across the world people have continued to come as pilgrims to a stop at his tomb in the Vatican grottoes.
For once, it is clear that "vox populi, vox Dei", the voice of the people of faith is the voice of God.
Six years ago the "vox populi" invoked him to be “Made a Saint now!" And despite the caution of the Congregation of the Saints the process for his beatification immediately begun.
There are those who - even among Catholics - have criticized the rush. Driven by a certain contempt for the religious sentiment of the crowds and perhaps with some bitterness toward this pope often branded as "conservative”. These "enlightened" Catholics say that "it is too soon” to assess the implications of his pontificate. It doesn’t seem so to us. In any case, the beatification of John Paul II is the confirmation that he has lived his faith in a heroic way and this can be said straight off, because it regards his personality and his way of answering the call of Christ.
Moreover, the magnitude of this Blessed pope - when he was still alive - was exactly this: that for him faith was never a set of precepts or rules, but was mixed with the flesh and blood of his life . Who can forget the suffering face and his eyes closed the last Via Crucis (unable to walk, watched from his private chapel)? Or how he deeply moved he was by the story of the fatigue of Peruvian miners? Or his joy at the streams of young people in World Youth Days? In him we saw a faith that touches human life, a relationship with Jesus Christ who transforms our lives, so that meeting the pope meant to meet Christ, not in the name of a dogma, but by virtue of a relationship between him and the Lord.
A few weeks before the beatification, Pope Benedict XVI said that "John Paul II was a great contemplative and a great apostle of Christ. God chose him for the See of Peter and kept him there for a long time to bring the Church into the third millennium. By his example, he led us all on this pilgrimage, and now continues to accompany us from Heaven. " For Pope Ratzinger, these are the two "pillars of his life and his ministry: prayer and missionary zeal." And he also remembered them today in his homily for the beatification. Of Wojtyla’s prayer life we should remember his dedication to the Our Lady, how he snatched Marian devotion from facile sentimentality, but also from the self-righteous intellectualism of the post-council period. In him, consecration to Mary became the path of consecration to Jesus Christ and the mission of the Church, a Church looked upon with gratitude and not as a wicked stepmother to criticize at every turn.
Thanks to this spirit of contemplation, John Paul II crossed all borders between the Church and the world and all ideological bastions built by clericalism and materialism. He gave new breath to the Church's mission, no longer limited to sociology, justice, love for the poor, but – together with all of this - celebrated as gift of the presence of Christ to every man.
AsiaNews is indebted to this vision. Recalling his visit to Manila in '95, in his book "Rise, Let us be on our Way ", the Polish pope exclaimed: "In Manila I had all of Asia before me. How many Christians! And how many millions of people in the continent who do not yet know Christ! I place great hope in the dynamics of the Church of the Philippines and Korea. Asia: this is our common task for the third millennium! " (P. 57). Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!