John Paul II 'set for sainthood' with second miracle

Pope John Paul II looks at a white dove freed at the end of the Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square, Vatican, 30 January 2005 John Paul II died in 2005, aged 84, and was beatified six years later

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John Paul II could be declared a saint this year after a Vatican committee approved a second miracle attributed to the Polish pope's intercession.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled an "inexplicable recovery" on 1 May 2011 was due to the late Pope's intercession, Ansa reported.

Earlier that same day he had been beatified after a first miracle was attributed to his intervention.

Pope Francis must now give his approval before a canonisation date is set.

Canonisation is the final step in the official process that declares a deceased person to be a saint.

Speedy process

At a plenary meeting of the Congregation on Tuesday, cardinals and bishops mooted a canonisation ceremony taking place in December, sources told Ansa.

Pope John Paul II at St Peter's Square, Vatican - 2 June 2000 The Polish pope reformed the sainthood process in 1983

One possible date would be 8 December, on which Catholics celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which this year falls on a Sunday.

John Paul II could be canonised at the same time as John XXIII, Vatican sources suggested. Venerated by Catholics as "the good pope", John XXIII was elected in 1958 and convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962, but died the following year before it was finished.

Canonisation requires the attribution of one further miracle to the intercession of the candidate after they have been beatified.

The Vatican has not revealed details about the second miracle in John Paul II's case.

It was reportedly deemed an "inexplicable recovery" by a panel of doctors before being approved last month by a board of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints' theologians.

John Paul II died in 2005 aged 84 and was beatified by his successor Benedict XVI in May 2011.

Among a crowd hundreds of thousands strong on St Peter's Square was French nun Marie Simon-Pierre, who says she was cured of Parkinson's Disease after praying for the intervention of the late pope little more than a month after he died.

Some questioned the Church's speed in beatifying John Paul II just six years after his death.

Although widely regarded as one of the great popes of modern times, his 26-year pontificate was tarnished by his handling of the clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the global Church.

Critics say other of the Church's deep-seated problems - such as its dysfunctional management and financial scandals at the Vatican bank - stem from shortcomings of his pontificate.

John Paul II reformed the sainthood process in 1983, making it faster, simpler, and cheaper. The office of "Devil's advocate" - an official whose job was to try to knock down the case for sainthood - was eliminated, and the required number of miracles was dropped.

The idea was to lift up contemporary role models of holiness in order to convince a jaded secular world that sanctity is alive in the here and now, says veteran Vatican analyst John Allen.

The result was that John Paul II beatified and canonised more people than all previous popes combined.

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