John Paul II's beatification delights Canadians

  • January 21, 2011

John Paul IITORONTO - Canada’s Polish community is rejoicing, but not particularly surprised, that Pope John Paul II will be beatified in May, said Fr. Chester Chmurzynski, pastor at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, a Polish parish in Oakville, Ont.

“It’s no surprise,” said Chmurzynski, who was a student of the late pope during his seminary years in Krakow, Poland. “Right after his death, people were already saying ‘Santo subito.’ (sainthood now).

“He was a good teacher and a good example. For students, he was very tough. But he was also very friendly and always smiling. He was a good man.”

On Jan. 14, Pope Benedict XVI approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession — the cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease — the last step needed for his beatification set for May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday.

On that day, Pope John Paul II will be declared “blessed” and granted restricted liturgical honour. Another miracle is needed for canonization, whereby the Church would declare him a saint and worthy of universal veneration.

Pope Benedict sped up the beatification process in 2005 by abolishing the normal five-year waiting period for the introduction of his sainthood cause. Three separate Vatican panels approved the miracle, including medical and theological experts, before Benedict XVI signed the official decree.

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins was happy to hear the news.

“We rejoice in the news that Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1. So many around the world, including Canadians touched by his pastoral visits to our country and archdiocese, continue to be inspired by this great and holy pope,” Collins said in a release.

Teresa Berezowski, president of the Canadian Polish Congress, said there isn’t anybody who had the opportunity to hear of Pope John Paul II’s good works that didn’t believe he was going to be beatified very quickly.

“It’s so wonderful that someone who did so much for the Church and for the world in general... is being recognized for the good that he did and the miracle that he worked,” said Berezowski.

“It’s such a great feeling to think that he’s Polish, and being Polish, it’s important to all of us.”

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Television, is currently attending the preparatory meetings for World Youth Day 2011 in Spain. He said that meetings were interrupted on Jan. 14 for the announcement that Pope Benedict had approved the miracle, he wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register.

“Following the… announcement, Bishop Cesar Franco, head of World Youth Day in Madrid, announced that one of the principal patrons of World Youth Day  2011 in Madrid would be Blessed John Paul II,” said Rosica.

Rosica said a thunderous and sustained standing ovation followed the announcement and many wept openly.

“On May 1, 2011, only six years after his return to the Father’s house, the Church will formally confirm what we knew for so long: not simply ‘Santo subito’ but ‘Santo sempre’ (Saint always).”

Mary Samulewski, chair of the parish pastoral council at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, the oldest Polish parish in Toronto, said this announcement brings with it both excitement and justification.

“A lot of us thought he was a saint before he died or that he should have been a saint,” Samulewski said. “So this announcement solidifies our beliefs about him.”

Samulewski said the parish is planning a Jan. 23 thanksgiving service to celebrate the good news.



Canadians of all faiths and walks of life have something to say about the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

Bernie Farber, President, Canadian Jewish Congress:

"I can't think of any Jewish leaders I've met in my 25 years on the job who have anything other than wonderfully respectful things to say about him. He is a man really well respected internationally in our community, and for very good reason. He was a decent, honourable, holy man."


Joseph Hare, Chief, M'Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island:

"All I know is that as a pope he reached out to people. He reached out to my family at that visit to Martyrs' Shrine in Midland (Ont. in 1984). My family and I went down there. There was a huge crowd there. We took a son and a daughter. He came and put his hand on my daughter's head and we shook hands with him. I have pictures. We're kind of close to him in that way. We were very impressed. We've always admired the work that he undertook to reach out to the world."

Fr. Jacques Monet, Jesuit:

"The decision to beatify him is simply ratifying what the people of God were asking for – what the people of God already recognized in him, that he lived the Christian ideal.... To me the extraordinary thing is the miracle which led to acceptance of beatification at this time, which had to do with Parkinson's disease. Which is what the Pope himself died of... The last days, with all the people in St. Peter's Square, the manner of his dying was an example of a person filled with faith, and with obedience to God's will. And, I would say, always being pastoral and concerned and open to others. His getting up out of his death bed and coming to the window to thank the people for coming to pray with him in his last hours was, I think, one of the most extraordinary scenes of his whole life... He was seen to be living his ideals. I would say that his beatification is an encouragement to everybody to live according to their ideals."

Consiglio Di Nino, Senator:

"People were strengthened by his commitment to those basic, fundamental principals... The attempt on his life and his incredible reaching out to the man who pulled the trigger – that is an image I will carry with me forever. His message and the impact is much wider than those really in political life. I think it's universal."

Bishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada, Anglican Communion:

"Pope John Paul II had a profound influence actually on the world. I think people's visions of John Paul  were, for the most part, visions of his hands extended – not only hands extended elevating the host at the Mass, but in acts of hospitality at the Vatican, acts of reconciliation and hands of compassion for the most vulnerable in the world... His visits to Canada always drew lots of enthusiasm, lots of interest, and I think were a source of renewal certainly for Roman Catholics but I think also for all people of Christian faith... As he aged, people just saw in him a tremendous model of patience in suffering and hope in the midst of immanent death."

Frank Klees, Protestant Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament:

"This is such amazing news and most appropriate... Pope John Paul II was known for his life-time commitment to this society, peace, the defence of equality and human rights... What John Paul II was able to do throughout the world in terms of bringing people together and raising awareness of what is important in people's lives – he deserves to be recognized. Sainthood is an appropriate acknowledgment of what he gave planet Earth."

Joe Gunn, Executive Director, Citizens for Public Justice:

"I remember in 1987, that was Solicitudo Rei Socialis – this was the encyclical that talked about solidarity and turned it into a virtue. I remember being on the board of Development and Peace in the eighties, years before, and they couldn't use the word solidarity... From his background and the Solidarity trade union and everything else he writes and legitimizes this mutuality – solidarity being a Christian virtue."

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