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John Paul II

Hundreds of thousands watch two popes become saints

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By Philip Pullella and James Mackenzie

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis proclaimed his predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in front of more than half a million pilgrims on Sunday, hailing both as courageous men who withstood the tragedies of the 20th century.

Cheers and applause rang out across St Peter’s Square after the historic double papal canonization as many in the crowd fixed their gaze on huge tapestries of the two popes on the facade of the basilica behind Francis.

“We declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church,” Francis said in his formal proclamation in Latin.

Relics of each man – a container of blood from John Paul II and skin from John XXIII – were placed near the altar.

The fact that the two being canonized are widely seen as representing contrasting faces of the Church has added to the significance of an event that Francis hopes will draw the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics closer together after a string of sex abuse and financial scandals.

The crowd stretched back along Via della Conciliazione, the broad, half-kilometer boulevard that starts at the Tiber River.

The Mass was also attended by former Pope Benedict, who last year became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down.

His attendance gave the ceremony a somewhat surreal atmosphere created by the presence of reigning pope, a retired pope and two dead popes buried in the basilica. Francis went over to greet Benedict twice during the service.

A TRAGIC CENTURY

“These were two men of courage … and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy,” Francis said in his address.

“They lived through the tragic events of that (20th) century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful,” he added.

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernizing Second Vatican Council, lived through both world wars.

John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years, witnessed the devastation of his homeland in World War Two and is credited by many with helping end the Cold War and bring down communism.

While both men were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who died just nine years ago, has been canonized too quickly.

Groups representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests also say he did not do enough to root out a scandal that emerged towards the end of his pontificate and which has hung over the church ever since.

The controversy did nothing to put off the rivers of Catholic faithful.

“I think that they were two great people, each of them had their own particular character, so they deserve what is happening,” said Leonardo Ruino, who came from Argentina.

The Vatican said more than 500,000 people filled the basilica area while another 300,000 watched the event on large television screens throughout Rome.

The overwhelming majority in the crowd were Poles who had travelled from their home country and immigrant communities as far afield as Chicago and Sydney to watch their most famous native son become a saint.

“THE ENDS OF THE EARTH”

Hundreds of red and white Polish flags filled the square and the streets surrounding the Vatican, which were strewn with sleeping bags, backpacks and folding chairs.

“For years Pope John Paul II took the Church to the ends of the earth and today the ends of the earth have come back here,” said Father Tom Rosica, head of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic television network.

Families and other pilgrims had waited for more than 12 hours along the main street leading to the Vatican before police opened up the square at 5:30 a.m.

Some people said they had managed to sleep on their feet because the crowd was so thick.

About 850 cardinals and bishops celebrated the Mass with the pope and 700 priests were on hand to distribute communion to the huge crowd.

About 10,000 police and security personnel and special paramedic teams were deployed and large areas of Rome were closed to traffic.

John, an Italian often known as the “Good Pope” because of his friendly, open personality, died before the Second Vatican Council ended its work in 1965 but his initiative set off one of the greatest upheavals in Church teaching in modern times.

The Council ended the use of Latin at Mass, brought in the use of modern music and opened the way for challenges to Vatican authority, which alienated some traditionalists.

John Paul continued many of the reforms but tightened central control, condemned theological renegades and preached a stricter line on social issues such as sexual freedom.

A charismatic, dominant pope, he was criticized by some as a rigid conservative but the adoration he inspired was shown by the huge crowds whose chants of “santo subito!” (make him a saint at once!) at his funeral 2005 were answered with the fastest declaration of sainthood in modern history.

(Additional reporting by Antonio Denti; Editing by Andrew Roche and Andrew Heavens)


11 Years. The Past Year, The lessons learned and the next phase, Year 12 …

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Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus (special archives)

I always try to find the right image to go with a post. This is one of those “right” images.

Monday December 9th, 2013. 12 years to the day I attended my Second First Meeting. I have said so many times in the past that up until that day I had already begun to talk to God. And surrender came when I realized that I was finished drinking, again…

We should all say a thank you to Troy for taking me to the meeting. I wonder if he is still sober today?

WHEN YOU KNOW RIGHT, DO RIGHT …

I think the theme of this past year has been “newcomer.” I may not have been a direct sponsor to anyone in particular, but I made a decision to leave my home group of 11 years to move to another Beginners Group made up of young men and women, with days, months and a few years of sobriety.

One young man in particular, one Sunday night, shared parts of his story about how he came in this last time. Struggling badly, he called his father in Europe. Our young man had been to meetings but found them not his “cup of tea.” His father flew to Montreal to see and consult.

They shared, and the question came … his father is long sober. How did dad get sober? And he confidently replied … In Meetings and A.A.

Needless to say he was floored. Our young man came in and got sober.

I did not know him very well when we met on that particular night. But something in him moved me because I spoke about him to a good friend on the way home that night. And ever since that night I have been keeping up with him, and over the last year we have become great friends.

And it is timely because that young man will give me my chip on Friday night December 13th at North End English.

All of the young men at this beginners meeting are special men. They never say NO when you ask them to do something for the greater good. And over the last year, I have had my hard times. I will touch on that later on in this post, suffice to say, when I needed a friend, they were there for me.

Like I said the theme is newcomer. And I feel like I have put my sober journey this year in the hands of newcomers. I’ve tried to practice presence. To be there for them as equally as they have been there for me.

I’ve not always been a good member. Because I have been less than forgiving with certain newcomers. And that is a fault.

A shift in my consciousness took place in May during the West island Roundup. Where we met for a weekend of talks given by speakers from New York City. My life has not been the same since. I wanted so badly to attain New York Sobriety. Whatever that means.

We don’t do sobriety like New York, here. Montreal is much more laid back. I have said in the past as well, that the women I know from Tuesday Beginners and Room of our Own, do it so much better than the men.

So I have kept my relations with them up to speed, even if we don’t see each other as often as I would like, because since leaving Tuesday’s I don’t see the women. But I call them often.

I’ve struggled with where I am going. I’ve struggled with sponsor. I felt at one point that we were both on different pages after the roundup because I went and my sponsor didn’t. He had his reasons, and I respect them.

But our relationship was changed in huge ways.

A long time ago, a friend of mine got sick with Cancer. And I made a conscious decision to be present to him in any way he needed. And I have honored that relationship to this day. We attend meetings together, and we are homed at the Thursday Men’s meeting, which we founded in May of this year.

Something happened a couple of weeks ago at another Thursday Meeting, my sponsor was there and after the meeting we chatted and he asked my friend if he was taking care of me … Now that I think on it today, my friend has been the closest thing to a sponsor as I have had. Seeing we spend a great deal of time together.

This is provident because yesterday when I talked to my good lady friend about an issue on my mind,  we touched on many issues. And I talked about my sponsor and she told me that maybe it was time that I moved on and that finding a new sponsor was important, and that once I did that, he would help me take care of my old sponsor. This is new ground here.

I’ve learned a great deal in the past year. Across many fronts.

In April of this year, one of my friends, another former member of the Tuesday meeting said he wanted to form a new meeting. And he pulled together a few hands, and I pulled a few hands together, and the six of us put together a new meeting. It was one of the biggest undertakings we had ever done in sobriety. It took over $300.00 to open a meeting, from space, to rent, to supplies, just to open the door.

The rest they say is history.

We have population. And a fine group of long time sober men. I was told that we should open the meeting and let God do the rest. He did …

I’ve had some issues with people and that has been a challenge. I did not do the right thing on several occasions, and I have learned from those lessons. I took for granted where I am at this point, and I forgot what it was like to be newly sober. As was pointed out to me recently. This is an ongoing issue that is on my plate right now.

MARRIAGE …

This year saw my marriage and my husband and I almost falling apart. That God Damned George Zimmerman trial almost killed us. Mostly because my husband finished his schooling and was homing in on his defense, and got pulled into this trial and spent every waking hour watching feeds from the states.

Our finances fell to an all time low. We were close to being broke. And I was not happy at all, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the hole was staring me in the face that I finally put my foot down and said something.

I relied on my boys like no one had. And they rose to the challenge with me and they took care of me. And I survived this test …

Yeah it went like this …

“I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore!”

The earth shook, to say the least. And it seemed that God was watching from the sidelines, because I felt like I had been forsaken, but that was all to change. We survived his defense, and it went perfectly. And after that followed the biggest event in our marriage, hubby landed a job that has set us on new paths financially, now we have been digging ourselves out of the credit hole he put us in over the past six months. And that has been a challenge.

I’ve worked to be a good husband. And relationships are hard work, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t. You roll with the punches and the tide.

I am not ready to surrender my marriage. Even though I came close.

Christmas is not far off as I begin writing this after 1 am on a Thursday night. Gifts are not necessary, but we do gift. Simply. We don’t spend oodles of cash on the holiday for material things. We do spend more money on my holiday dinner instead.

It is far better to cook, share and eat than be burdened by “Things.”

SUGGESTIONS TO THE CLUTTERER …

Lorna Kelly writes in a book about clutter and at some point you are long sober, that it comes time to pair down your life and rid yourself of all that shit you’ve collected over the years.

When we get sober, we are empty shells with baggage for days. We sober up, we clean up, we start meetings, and we start working our steps. And over many, many years, it seems, we clear out the wreckage of the past.

And in this eleventh year, I have read “The Camel knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel.” And I think after several read throughs. I have taken to heart what I read because it made sense to me recently.

This new knowledge began the Great Purge of 2013.

This is recent information because it just finished the other day. Suffice to say that there are very few “things” we have kept, mainly because it doesn’t belong to me so I couldn’t throw those things away.

But I did toss every item that was communal. Shit from the balcony, old files, trash we kept and didn’t toss when we should have. I sorted through every piece of clothing we owned and tossed 2 boxes and 4 leaf bags full of clothing in the charity bin. Someone will have a Merry Christmas this year.

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SACRED GIFT …

While hubby works, I am a stay at home housewife. I clean, do laundry, shop and do all those things that need to be done during the day. I have cultivated time to pray and meditate. Having the house to myself is a good thing because I can devote time to all my sober activities.

Prayer has become something I truly rely on. And I need reminders. That has been a theme in my life. Reminders… A good friend gave me a packet of prayer cards that I use every day. I have tacked the Third Step, the Seventh Step and Eleventh Step prayer on my computer So that the first thing I do in the morning is pray. And it is the last thing I do before I turn the box off and go to bed.

Sunday’s are a Big Book Meeting. Tuesday’s are Beginner’s Meetings, Thursday is the Men’s meeting, and Friday is for me, the As Bill Sees It meeting, where I will take my chip on Friday night. I have been religious about my meetings, and on those nights, hubby has his space aside from our together time.

Every day is different. The social tape that plays out changes every day. It is something that I have learned about after hubby fell sick Bi-Polar. That after he rose from the dead, the tape of the day began to play. And it took a long time to notice it, but it became very clear to me what the tape meant.

You know, the way you communicate with your husband or wife? The little inside jokes, the things only you would know? Sayings from movies, that are in common, jokes from comedians? The little things that pass between you on any given day?

We enjoy our time together. And every day there is something different. The tape is never the same two days running. When hubby got our cell phones, basically so that I could keep in contact with him while he was at Uni, communication took on a new purpose.

Many many years ago, when I was much younger I used to bar hop with my friend Ricky. We worked at R.C.I. together. And we hit up Uncle Charlies every night after work. He met his husband, on the first pass. They connected and have been together ever since.

They had a hole in the wall apartment with a card table, an old sofa and a few chairs. And over the past fifteen years built themselves quite the home.

I always longed to have what they had. And it took my coming to Montreal and sobriety to gift me that which I had so longed for. And it was on the first pass that I saw my then boyfriend, who eventually became my husband. And now nine years later we have turned that hole in the wall apartment into quite the home. We are climbing the financial ladder.

Those Pesky Ninth Step Promises were slow in coming. And just this year, the final promise of “fear of people and of financial insecurity will leave us” has come to pass, so I mention this gently and carefully, because I don’t want to jinx it.

That promise it seemed, was the one that dogged us for so many years. And I think that we have been fired in the crucible for so long, that it was finally time to get out of the heat of the oven. We have long term goals, some of which were promised to me long ago, and are still outstanding. I wrote about them in that long ago post “The State of Our Union.”

We have reached a new benchmark in our lives, and I am hopeful that the next stage of our lives will bring some good news. I hope we are on the up and we keep that momentum, because falling would be heartbreak.

MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO

Translated: Unworthy but chosen.

Pope Francis translates it as “By having compassion and by choosing.”

Just like John Paul II who believed that suffering and pain was sacred, that in the suffering one’s soul comes closer to Christ. Pope Francis once wrote that “Pain is not a virtue in itself, but you can be virtuous in the way you bear it.”

Living with a terminal disease only held at bay with a concoction of powerful pills, does not mean that there is not suffering, either mentally or physically. I have survived another calendar year. Which is no small achievement. This is part of my sober message to my fellows. People do not see death until it hits them right between the eyes. Living with “diseases” is for many a difficult burden.

People tend not to look at the inside of a person, because what they see on the outside looks normal and healthy. It has been a year of remembrance for me. It seemed that quite frequently there was some kind of documentary on television (READ: “We Were Here”) reminding me that I must remember, that we must remember.

It’s been a while, two years, since the last time I spoke at a meeting, which fell on my 10th sober anniversary. You could say that I am off the speaking circuit.

EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY

I don’t know if I am totally emotionally sober. I am finding that part of me holds on to old pain. Over the past few days I have written some stories about memories. And at the moment, I am of the mind that someone owes me an apology. I bore the burden of abuse as a child, defending my mother and brother, yet they stand unified behind a man who denies my existence and has shut off my light because of the family gospel.

I have this internal dialogue going on in my life and I hear myself saying things I so want to say to someones face, to shake them and throttle them close to death … words for my father, who has kept me in the dark and silence for the last twelve years …

LOOK AT ME GOD DAMMIT. SEE ME. ACKNOWLEDGE ME FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I AM 46 YEARS OLD. GROW THE FUCK UP AND STOP BEING A SON OF A BITCH !!! YOU BASTARD !!! FUCK YOU !!!

There are many thing I would like to say and the one thing I wish at this point in sobriety is that I am heard, and that my voice counts. And that my life has not been a waste of time or effort.

But in reality, this may never come to pass, because in this family dynamic, nobody won.

Like Nelson Mandela, he had to rise above all the hate and abuse to become the man that he did, to lead a people and a nation. And holding on to hate and anger only would have tied him down, emotionally and mentally. He had to let it all go in order to move forwards.

Sobriety is the practice of letting go on a daily basis. If it doesn’t concern me and it isn’t my problem, then don’t entertain it. And if someone irks you who is fresh in the program, but for the grace of God, folks in early sobriety don’t have the time we do to understand many things. Life took years and years to come together and we can’t expect a newbie to come in the room and grow on with “miracle grow.” It doesn’t work that way.

It has been a long haul this last year. I made it and lived it, and nobody can take that away from me. I’ve earned this day, one day at a time.

AND ON THIS LAST NIGHT OF SOBER YEAR 11,
Sunday December 8 – 2013 …

It was early, and I departed early, and set up quietly. A good friend showed up and we had a good time. And on this last night of my sober year, I was reminded why I go to meetings. It is the holiday season, and people are suffering. And as I have alluded to above, I forget what it was like to be newly sober the farther I get from my last drink.

But they say that the farther you get from your last drink, the closer you get to your next drink ! Thank God for newcomers who come, join, and tonight chaired the meeting. I am reminded of the important points: Meetings, Sponsorship, Fellowship and a connection to a Power Greater than Myself.

A man came in with a friend, I could smell alcohol from where I was sitting.

And admitted that he was in bad shape, that he was an alcoholic. In a blackout he hit his wife last night, and he doesn’t remember the rest …

I’ve been there, the darkness, the not knowing, but I know what happened to get me here. I needed life, I needed sobriety, I needed something more than I had had and the only place I could get it was in a meeting.

Before the book was published, the Oxford Group had spirituality and six steps … (1) Complete deflation, (2) Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power, (3) Moral inventory, (4) Confession, (5) Restitution, and (6) Continued work with other alcoholics.

It all sounds so simple and it is – once you get in the door, you dry out and come to.

Then the journey begins. And what a beautiful journey it has been the last year. I would not be here if not for the people I call family, in my life. I am grateful to be reminded of what matters, and why I serve my home group, because if I do not open the door, then people would have no where to go.

And for that I am responsible !!!

Christmas is right around the corner.

THERE ARE 15 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS.

Thanks for your time and support all these years.


Could’ve had the farm …

farm-view-from-hill jerkmag wordpresscom

Courtesy: Jerkmag.wordpress.com

A friend grew up on a farm, long ago. Living, farming and planting like a real farmer, but we are not made farmers, for some, we are born farmers. With a temperament to match.

So the story goes, a young man worked a plot of land, which had to be planted in a certain time frame, for harvesting reasons, it all had to go smoothly. And when does anything go real smoothly??? Anyways, after breakdowns and farm related issues, the field got planted. And the waiting started, and prayers for rain …

well, it rained,

And rained,

And rained,

AND RAINED !!!!

That hard fought planted farm was flooded and all the seed was lost.

Now, how do you think the son reacted?

He went into a rage at the loss of all that work.

The farmer on the other hand, replied … “Well, tomorrow is another day !”

Some of us are farmers and others are clearly not …

End of story.

The day was warm, and I was out uber early because one of my readers wanted to talk about the blog, so I got there earlier than I ever have gotten to the meeting. The church was open and people were streaming in and out, and I noted that parking tonight was gonna be tight.

I made all my connections quickly, no waiting on either trip.

The more I invest in this Friday meeting the more I love the people in it. It is just a super way to end the week. With good, honest and loving folks around a table who enlighten each other as the reading is shared.

It is one thing to read from the book ourselves. And then process what we just read. On the other hand, when a book is read “in company”

You not only get what’s in your head, but what everybody else thinks or feels about a specific reading for the night.

I’m seriously pondering taking my cake at the Friday Meeting in December. It is just the “right” space.

As usual we read from As Bill Sees It and “Worshipers All.”

“We found that we had indeed been worshipers. What a state of mental goose flesh that used to bring on! Had we not variously worshiped people, sentiment, things, money and ourselves…?

… It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith, love, or worship. In one form or another, we had been living by faith and little else.”

Our folks are having hard times. And the drink has been closer for some in recent days as it was when they were actively drinking. But our men and women are sober tonight. But for the Grace of God.

Where does your mind go when you read or hear the word Worship?

Society round the world lives on the worship of celebrity, gossip and hardships. You can’t go a day without seeing something on the wire about a celebrity this, or celebrity that, these ones are divorcing, and that one has an addiction, and this celebrity is DEAD !

I share stories here about people, real people, and some are celebrities, and some are Royals, but I try to stay away from gossip and negativity. The two topics you should stay away from in conversation … Religion and Politics.

I can’t say I follow those words.

My Higher Power, whom I chose to call GOD, is still sending messages. it seems they are all pointed in the same direction beckoning me to a location that I have been avoiding for a while.

A few days ago it was the Tabernacle the got my attention.

Tonight, it was Worship.

From your first click here, we are in worship mode.

Pope Francis has made it much easier to see myself back in a Catholic Church.

And why don’t we start there.

I spent 1986-1987 in a Catholic Seminary. A year that changed my life in many ways. I learned to pray, I learned about worship, I learned about others.

And their secrets …

At the end of that year, I was not asked to return for a second, I felt God had dropped me. But that wasn’t the end of God. But it did bring on the demon of alcoholism in a very bad way.

I gained employment at a Travel Agency owned by a friends mother. It was a really good job. Making a lot of money, and I ended up as manager. There was a catch. We served alcohol to clients who came to visit. (In those days you had clients who traveled and came to consult, get advice and tickets).

None of this point and click internet travel.

While there my boss, the man who was the consummate man took me on a whirl wind trip to Europe. Something every kid would kill to do, on free passes from Pan Am Airlines.

I was not sober the whole voyage. I was mostly drunk. And it was not pretty. I made a true ass of myself in public and turned pleasant day trips into the realm of hell, because I could not hold my alcohol. (AT ALL!!!)

The one stop I was sober, But for the Grace of God was ROME.

When we speak of worship, you think / I think, churches.

Well, I hit the mother lode in Rome. That day we toured the Colosseum and the city, and finally we walked into St. Peter’s Square. It is immense. The Vatican is an immense building. I have a solitary picture in my breviary of the Pieta.   The statue carved my Michelangelo Buonarroti.

We toured the catacombs and the many Popes buried there. And we climbed the single staircase that brought us to the Coppola of the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. I stood there looking down on the Papal Gardens.

I don’t know if you can do that portion of the tour in today’s day and age.

Back in the Vatican, I attended mass in the church. It was grandiose.

I had been to, and worshiped in, the seat of the Catholic Church.

It was the most sober I was on that two week journey.

Throughout my life, I have worshiped. I have toms of memories of holidays in church, and Sunday after Sunday masses. There is something to be said about gay men and the church. My mentor and best friend, now priest in the Anglican Church wrote several books on saints and devotions from a gay perspective.

You can see here, my devotions.

During my university time, studying world religions, I had the opportunity to visit all the major religious observances, from Shul in the McGill Ghetto, to Friday Prayers at the University Prayer space, to mass on Sundays at the Concordia Chapel on the West End.

Montreal is the home to many churches, religious orders, and religious people, and saints. On the mountain sits St. Joseph’s Oratory, in Old Montreal we have Notre Dame Cathedral, and downtown we have St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Take your pick, it would take you years to visit every church on the island of Montreal.

As a young man, a boy really, I worshiped the ground that my grandmother(s) walked on. Saintly women who gave me all they had, in the little time I had before they were taken from me by catastrophic strokes and by a father who was jealous that they were keeping alive a little boy he wanted to see dead.

Little by slowly, all that I knew was removed from my life by my father who alienated every family member from my life because of his alcoholism and jealousy.

All I have is their memories. I even Googled old homes in the places where they lived and found that even the houses are no longer standing. Sad, very sad.

You never know when God is going to pull your card and life is over.

It wasn’t until my mortality stood before me in stark relief that I began to pray.

But all those prayers said for me as a child did not go to waste.

There are a reason I lived. Maybe it was because I got sober, once! And maybe it was because Todd took me in and saved my life, and maybe it was just God.

A few years after I was diagnosed I was in mass at my old home parish in Miami. And that Sunday, a young priest came in the processional. But he wasn’t walking. He was on crutches. He said mass, and I swore that day that I would never complain about my life ever again.

I had to meet this man. And so I did. He became my Spiritual Adviser. And he gave me a couple of Books that I still read today.

No one to call me home by Rev. James J. Close (and)

I heard the Owl call my Name by Margaret Craven

When I need a kick of humility and sacredness I always turn to I heard the Owl Call my name. It is one of my favorite books in my collection.

Fr. Jeff, once told me that I needed worship. That God needed me in Church. And that the people of the community wanted to pray with me. So began a weekly schedule of morning masses, followed by spiritual direction and private prayer.

For the sick and dying, many would never darken the doors of a church because of their infirmity (read: AIDS). The local church had other thoughts about the dying than did Rome of that time.

Yet, to this day I venerate John Paul II – the man, the mystic and Pope. Who will be canonized next April. As well as Mother Teresa and Brother Andre and Mere D’Youville. Not to mention Pope Francis. That man who is on tap to change the face of the church. And much welcomed as well.

I don’t seem to have those issues that pop up in early sobriety for my friends. I was on a totally different page tonight. I knew what I wanted to say, but failed to get them all out, as I was the last to share tonight.

Drunk Worship – Addition late night…

Coming off my slip, I had put down the drugs and moved 1000 miles away from them, never to see them ever again. And I had sober stints during this period, from July 2000 through Sept 11 2001. But after 9-11, we drank and drank and drank. To drown ourselves, to remember, to raise money so forth and so on.

I was by now a binge drinker. I believed or was deluded by youth. I was growing up and getting older, and that was a challenge. I went to “Salvation” every Saturday night, where South Beach Gods went to drink, party, drug and dance.

We’d beach it all week, and what didn’t get tanned would be covered by a turn in a tanning bed in preparation for Saturday night. I was a little slimmer, and not so chunky as I am today.

I would find the smallest t shirt to wear with the tightest jeans. And we would visit the temple and dance. The music would start at midnight, and by 1 a.m. people were well toasted. I worshiped the music, the men and the bottle.

It was at 1 a.m. that they would blast liquid nitrogen to cool the crowd and all the shirts would come off … Oh God it was flesh heaven !

I was begging God to make me young and pretty, pretty enough to become part of a community that I was clearly outside of. And the more I drank, the further I got away from that goal of young and pretty.

The choice of growing up or dying in delusion were very real for me. And I had to make a choice, and sobriety helped a great deal. I could walk away from the bar, knowing there was the rest of my life ahead of me.

In the end I don’t know who took me from the room, who poured me into a taxi and how I got into my building without assistance. I had come to the end of my drinking. The worship of the bottle ended. pure and simple, and by that time I was ready for a return to the rooms, because I had been praying for it …

The rest is history.

Now a days, I’m having this private conversation with God among the people. But it takes all those people to speak in God’s name. You never know when you will hear it and if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss something important.

At the end of the meeting one of our Matriarchs took her Nine Year Chip…

WOO HOO !!! we are very proud of her.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Date set for Popes John Paul II and John XXIII sainthood

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Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints on 27 April 2014, Pope Francis has announced.

The Pope said in July that he would canonise his two predecessors, after approving a second miracle attributed to John Paul.

Polish John Paul, the first non-Italian pope for more than 400 years, led the Catholic Church from 1978-2005.

Pope John was pontiff from 1958-1963, calling the Second Vatican Council that transformed the Church.

The decision to canonise the two at the same time appears designed to unify Catholics, correspondents say.

John Paul II is a favourite of conservative Catholics, while John XXIII is widely admired by the Church’s progressive wing.

Adam Easton BBC News, Warsaw

John Paul II’s life and teachings have had an enormous impact in Poland, his homeland.

The number of young Polish men training to become priests rose by about a third after his election in 1978, peaking in the mid-1980s.

Polish Catholic Church leaders will be hoping his canonisation will have a similar effect.

The number of Polish seminarians – while still much higher than in the rest of Europe – has been declining steadily since his death in 2005.

‘The good pope’

John Paul stood out for his media-friendly, globetrotting style. He was a fierce critic of communism, and is credited with helping inspire opposition to communist rule in eastern Europe.

John Paul has been on a fast track to sainthood since his death, when crowds in St Peter’s Square chanted “santo subito” (“sainthood now”).

During his own papacy he simplified the process by which people are made saints, and created more of them than all previous popes combined.

John XXIII is remembered for introducing the vernacular to replace Latin in church masses and for creating warmer ties between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.

He has a big following in Italy, where he is known as Il Papa Buono, the good pope.

The BBC’s David Willey reports from Rome that Pope John was in many ways similar to Pope Francis, a humble, down-to-earth man with a fine sense of humour.

Two living popes are expected to be present at the canonisation ceremony: Francis, who will officiate, and Pope Benedict, who retired earlier this year.

The double canonisation will be the first in the Church’s history.

Miracles

Two miracles have been officially attributed to Pope John Paul II – the number usually needed for canonisation.

The first miracle was the apparent curing of a 49-year-old French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, the same malady which afflicted the pope himself in his later years.

The second miracle came on the day of John Paul II’s beatification by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. A Costa Rican woman reportedly made an “inexplicable recovery” from a serious brain illness, and the only explanation was believed to be the fact that her family had prayed for John Paul II’s intercession.

Pope John XXIII was beatified by John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Francis took the unusual step of waiving the requirement of a second miracle in his case.


Vatican: 2 living popes may honour 2 dead ones at April canonization for John Paul, John XXIII

 

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VATICAN CITY – Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27 at a ceremony that might see two living popes honouring two dead ones.

The Vatican on Monday said retired Pope Benedict XVI might join Pope Francis in the saint-making ceremony for their predecessors, noting that there was no reason why Benedict should have to watch the ceremony on TV.

“There’s no reason — either doctrinal or institutional — that he couldn’t participate in a public ceremony,” the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “I don’t have any reason to exclude it.”

He noted there was still time before the ceremony and that Benedict was free to decide what to do.

Benedict, who became the first pope in 600 years to retire when he stepped down in February, had said he would spend his final days “hidden from the world” in the Vatican monastery.

But he has taken on a more public profile recently, writing a letter to an Italian atheist that was published last week in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper and appearing with Francis over the summer at a ceremony to unveil a Vatican statue.

Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century’s most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn’t need a second one to be canonized.

Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church, since each pope has his admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul’s death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council’s role in shaping the church today.

A spokesman for Poland’s bishops’ conference, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, said the dual canonizations would stress the fact that John Paul II continued the ideas introduced by John XXIII, who called Vatican II.

Originally, the canonization was expected to have taken place Dec. 8. But Polish bishops complained that a December date would make it difficult for Polish pilgrims to come to the Vatican by bus along snowy, icy roads. As a result, the first Sunday after Easter was chosen instead — a feast day established by John Paul himself.

It was on that same feast day — Divine Mercy Sunday — that John Paul was beatified in 2011, drawing 1.5 million pilgrims to Rome.

John Paul made Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the current Pope Francis — a cardinal. Francis’ immense popular appeal has also been likened to that of John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope.”

___

Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw.


Spiritual Experience

John Paul in Chapel

If you know anything about the Late Pontiff John Paul II, then you would know that this is the place he spent a great deal of his time – the apostolic Chapel in the pope’s private residence in the papal apartments.

I bring this up because we read from Appendix II in the back of the Big Book, “Spiritual Experience.”

I’ve been in a “right state” these past few days. And my friends have been on top of things making sure I don’t crack up. That’s why I am friends with certain people, because they invest in my life. And there are times, when we talk, that I am sure that God is present amongst us.

As Spiritual Experiences go, I have had a few in  my life, and the most important ones came well before I ever hit the room of A.A.

My presentation to God by my Grandmother comes to mind when I was a child.

The two appearances of my friend David after his death when I was in seminary.

Going to Rome, getting to see John Paul II in person twice in a years time.

Visiting the Vatican, touring the catacombs, and climbing the staircase to the top of the cupola of the Vatican looking down over St. Peter’s Square and the Papal Gardens. And attending mass IN the Vatican, how many people can claim a visit like this to the Vatican?

As I drank my way across Europe as a young man, I had this sober experience of God, in one of the most hallowed locations in Christendom.

For the whole of my young life I knew God. And He knew who I was. We were close for a very long time, and I believe now that it was God and faith that contributed to my surviving my life as it was lived.

After my expulsion from Seminary, I turned on God, thinking that He had turned on me. But now I know that the men who spoke for God, were egos and attitudes and men who, later on, fell from grace, in their own time.

God cleared the score, so to speak.

I can’t tell you that I was steeped in the Book the first time I got sober, but I did read at meetings and with my sponsor, but like I have said before, there were other matters on the table that took precedence over life, like survival…

When I came in the second time, the book was presented to us, as were the steps, prior to my coming to Montreal. And at the end of my first year of sobriety I worked my steps in a Step group the First time.

That is when I read “There is a solution” and in that chapter we are introduced to Appendix II and Spiritual Experience.

The book actually refers you to this reading, AS you read the book. It appears in the first few chapters almost inviting you to partake. But how many people, at that point in early sobriety, are ready to take that leap of faith and understand and accept a religious axiom or religious concept.

The out there is Genius. Bill W gives us his explanation.

“GOD as WE understood Him.”

Have I experienced Spiritual Experiences in Sobriety? Yes.

It took some time, going to the same meetings, in the same space, for a period of time that I grew able to recognize them in others, and not necessarily in myself.

My sober theorem states:

In life, where ever we are, we carry, above our heads, a blinking sign. That sign flashes what is going on in our hearts and heads.

We cannot see the sign, but others can.

I have proved this theorem at my home group, the space called St. Leon’s Church.

You come to the doors outside. And you come down 12 steps. How providential.

I grew able to see the signs of all the folks who came to our meeting, and later ALL the meetings that I attend in that room, over the past twelve years. Newly sober people have varied signs. Saying many things.

And as you return, over and over, those signs change. As people get sober and change, so does the sign.

Today, I go to meetings with my friends. I admit that I pick and chose who I choose to spend my time with. Since the Round Up, I have grown picky in my choice of those I share my life with. My friends are intuitive. They are smart, and they invest in our lives of each other. And I appreciate this so much, because I know my friends have my back.

You can’t go to a meeting and not invest. I mean you can, it’s been done. Folks who come to a meeting and warm a chair, but do not engage or invest. And that is a terrible things. But it is to be expected in early sobriety. Newly sober people cannot invest in others, until they stop existing in their heads making everything about themselves. While the ego is in motion, folks are unapproachable.

You can’t get sober and keep your ego…

For me, every meeting has the potential to be a spiritual experience. Because you never know what someone else is going to say on varied topics we speak about at meetings, be it from the book, a topic or an open discussion.

Over the past twelve years, almost, I have seen countless people come to their first spiritual experience. Sitting in a group in St. Leon’s hall, someone realizes something BIG, when the elevator rises to the top of the tower and the light goes on, and the experience takes place.

I can tell you that God favors that hall. Because I have seen Him move amongst the people many times. And to be blessed to be able to see with those eyes, God move in a room, is a blessing. And that doesn’t come over night, it comes over years.

I am eternally grateful for my friends in the rooms tonight. A few in particular who went out of their way to be with me over the past few days. To be in places that I might travel in hopes of speaking to me in private – outside the room.

We hosted a small group, but we went the entire hour.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Pope Francis clears John Paul II for sainthood, decides to canonize John XXIII without miracle

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By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on Friday cleared two of the 20th century’s most influential popes to become saints, approving a miracle needed to canonize Pope John Paul II and waiving Vatican rules to honour Pope John XXIII.

It was a remarkable show of papal authority and confirmed Francis’ willingness to bend church tradition when it comes to things he cares deeply about. Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council’s role in shaping the church today.

Francis approved a decree that a Costa Rican woman’s inexplicable cure from a deadly brain aneurism was the “miracle” needed to canonize John Paul. More significantly, he decided that John XXIII, who convened Vatican II, could be declared a saint even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis had the power to dispense with such requirements and could proceed with only one confirmed miracle to John’s name.

The ceremony is expected before the end of the year. The date of Dec. 8 has been floated as likely, given it’s the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church that honours Mary, to whom both saintly popes were particularly devoted. Polish prelates continue to press for October, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Polish-born John Paul’s election, but Vatican officials have suggested that’s too soon to organize such a massive event.

The announcement came on a remarkable day melding papacies past and present: It opened with Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attending their first Vatican ceremony together, sitting side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens. It continued with the publication of Francis’ first encyclical, a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired but was signed by Francis. And it climaxed with Francis’ decision to canonize two other predecessors.

Each event, historic on its own, would have captured headlines. But the canonization announcement capped them all, reflecting the priorities of this unique pontificate that has already broken so many rules and traditions, from Francis’ decision to shun papal vestments to his housing arrangements, living in the Vatican hotel rather than the stuffy Apostolic Palace.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican analyst, said the decision to canonize both popes was a “brilliant move to unify the church,” given that each pope has his own admirers and critics.

“With the joint announcement, Pope Francis is saying we do not have to choose between popes, we can honour and revere both as holy men who served the church well in their times,” he wrote on his blog for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.

Vatican II, which John XXIII opened a year before his 1963 death, opened the church to people of other faiths and allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the languages of the faithful, rather than Latin. In the years since it closed in 1965, though, it has become a source of division in the church, with critics blaming a faulty interpretation of Vatican II’s true meaning on the fall in priestly vocations and the “crisis” in the church today.

To anyone who has been paying attention, Francis’ decision to canonize John Paul and John XXIII should come as no surprise: The Jesuit was made a cardinal by John Paul, who attended Vatican II, and is very much a priest of John’s legacy.

On the anniversary of John Paul’s death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both John Paul and John XXIII — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

“Two different popes, very important to the church, will be announced saint together – it’s a beautiful gesture,” said the Rev. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for Poland’s Catholic bishops, who like most Poles was overjoyed by the news of John Paul’s impending canonization but impatient to know the date.

Francis will set the date at an upcoming meeting of cardinals.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the miracle that brought John Paul to the ranks of saints concerned a Costa Rican woman, Floribeth Mora, who on Friday broke months of silence to tell her story in public, surrounded by her family, doctors and church officials at a news conference in the archbishop’s residence in San Jose, Costa Rica.

A tearful Mora described how she awoke at her home in Dulce Nombre de Tres Rios, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the capital, on April 8, 2011 with a debilitating headache that sent her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with having suffered a cerebral aneurism in the right side of her brain.

Doctors decided they couldn’t operate because the area was inaccessible.

“With an open operation or an endovascular intervention, the risk to Floribeth would have been to die or be left with a significant neurological deficit,” her doctor, Dr. Alejandro Vargas, told reporters.

She was sent home with painkillers.

“I returned home with the fear that I was going to die,” Mora said.

Nevertheless, a few days later, she insisted on participating in a religious procession during which she said she received a sign that she would be healed. The family decided to build a shrine to John Paul outside their home: a colorful altar with a photo of the late pope next to a statue of the Madonna and surrounded by flowers, candles and Christmas lights.

On the day John Paul was beatified, May 1, 2011, Mora said she insisted on watching the Mass, which drew some 1.5 million people to St. Peter’s Square and the streets around it.

“I contemplated the photo of the Holy Father with his arms extended and I fixed my eyes on him,” she said. “In this moment, I heard a voice tell me ‘get up, don’t be afraid,’ and I could only say ‘Yes, I’m going to get up.'”

She said her family was shocked to see her get out of bed. “I was afraid to tell my husband, because he was going to think I was crazy or on drugs. But I got up from bed, and I am here before you, healthy,” she said.

Medical tests confirmed that the aneurism had disappeared, Vargas said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it,” he said, showing the before and after images of the hemorrhage.

John Paul, who was pope from 1978-2005, revolutionized the papacy, travelling the world and inspiring a generation of young Catholics to be excited about their faith. He was the first Polish pope and the first non-Italian in 455 years — a legacy that continued with the German-born Benedict XVI and Argentine Francis.

John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope” for his affable nature, is best known for having convened Vatican II, sensing that the time was ripe for a renewal of the church. But he has fallen from favour among conservatives who blame Vatican II for the church’s problems today.

Benedict spent much of his pontificate trying to correct what he considered wrong interpretations of Vatican II, insisting it wasn’t the break from the past that liberals believed.

While not disagreeing outright with Benedict, Francis seems to take a more progressive read of Vatican II and its call to go out into the world and spread the faith — a priority he has shown in the first months of his pontificate.

The two living popes, however, clearly get along.

“Your holiness, good day and thank you!” Francis beamed on Friday as he greeted Benedict in the Vatican gardens for the unveiling of the statue. Benedict, 86, appeared in good form, walking slowly but on his own and greeting well-wishers.

The Vatican’s complicated saint-making procedure requires that the Vatican certify a “miracle” was performed through the intercession of the candidate — a medically inexplicable cure that is lasting, immediate and can be directly linked to the prayers offered by the faithful. One miracle is needed for beatification, a second for canonization.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his John Paul’s death. Benedict was responding to chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Immediately” which erupted during John Paul’s funeral.

There has been some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See’s deep-seated problems — clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank — essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Thus the decision to canonize John Paul along with John XXIII can be seen as trying to balance those concerns, as well as the shortcomings of each pope.

Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope,” alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

As soon as the announcement was made, John Paul’s critics came out: Juan Vaca, one of the victims of notorious pedophile priest the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order, said the decision to canonize John Paul was “appalling and shocking” given the thousands of victims of sex abuse who were ignored under his 27-year pontificate.

The Vatican has argued that sainthood cases are based on the record of the person, not the pontificate.

Asked how John XXIII, elected in 1958, could be canonized without a second miracle, the Vatican spokesman insisted that many theologians believe that a second miracle isn’t required. He said Francis had approved a decision by the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican’s saint-making office.

“Certainly the pope has the power, in a certain sense, to dispense of the second miracle in a cause, and this is what happened,” Lombardi said.

He stressed that this decision didn’t represent any relaxing of the Vatican’s overall standards for canonization, but represented a unique situation, given that the church this year is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

“John XXIII is someone who we know is beloved in the church, we’re in the 50th anniversary of the Council which he started, and I don’t think any of us have any doubts about his virtues,” Lombardi said.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul’s longtime secretary, was clearly pleased that his pope would finally be made a saint.

“John Paul II’s holiness was simple, humble, of service,” Dziwisz wrote in Friday’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. “He lived for God and brought others to God.”

___

Javier Cordoba in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.


Popes John Paul II, John XXIII to be made saints: Vatican

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By Philip Pullella – Reuters

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope John Paul II, the globe-trotting pontiff who led the Catholic Church for nearly 27 years, and Pope John XXIII, who called the reforming Second Vatican Council, will be declared saints, the Vatican said on Friday.

The Vatican said Pope Francis had approved a second miracle attributed to John Paul, a Pole who was elected in 1978 as the first non-Italian pope in 450 years and died in 2005. His progression to sainthood is the fastest in modern times.

The Vatican also said Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council – which enacted sweeping reforms to modernize the Church – would be made a saint even though he has only been credited with one miracle since his death.

The canonization ceremonies, which are likely to bring hundreds of thousands to people to Rome, are expected this year.

John Paul had already been credited with asking God to cure a French nun of Parkinson’s disease, the same malady he had, before he was beatified in 2011.

Two confirmed miracles are usually required under Vatican rules for the declaration of a saint.

The second miracle attributed to his intercession is the inexplicable curing of a Costa Rican woman who prayed to him for help with her medical condition on the day of his beatification.

In the case of Pope John XXIII, who was known as the “good pope”, Francis waived the customary rules requiring a second miracle after beatification, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. John XXIII was beatified in 2000.

Francis, who has tried to instill a spirit of simplicity and reform in the Church since his election in March, is known to have great admiration for the reforming Pope John, who was born of peasant stock in northern Italy.

John Paul went down in history as the “globe-trotting pope,” visiting every inhabited continent in more than 100 trips outside Italy.

LAST DAYS WATCHED BY WORLD

His struggle with ill health was watched by millions around the world on television towards the end of his life.

He was also credited with being instrumental in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 because of his steadfast defense of the Solidarity trade union in his native Poland.

After martial law was declared in Poland in 1981, he is believed to have told then-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev that if Russia invaded Poland, he would return home.

John Paul was nearly killed by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot him in St Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. Two trials failed to prove Italian magistrates’ accusations that the Bulgarian secret services had carried out the plot with Agca on behalf of the Soviet Union.

Millions of people attended his funeral in April, 2005, and many cried “Santo Subito” or “Make him a saint immediately”.

His successor, Benedict, waived a Church rule that normally requires a five-year waiting period before the preliminaries to sainthood can even begin.

John Paul is respected by Jews because of his 1986 visit to Rome’s synagogue, the first by a pope to a Jewish temple.

He is already considered a saint by millions of his countrymen in Poland, having supported their bid for freedom on the world stage for 11 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

“I am so happy and hardly can wait. John Paul II was one of a kind,” said Ewa Jezierska, 72, a Polish saleswoman in Warsaw.

Liberals in the Church say John Paul was too harsh with theological dissenters who wanted to help the poor, particularly in Latin America. Others say he should be held ultimately responsible for sexual abuse scandals because they occurred or came to light when he was in charge.

John Paul also drew criticism for supporting the late Father Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the Legionaries of Christ religious order, defending him despite charges of sexual abuse that later turned out to be true.

John XXIII has for decades been venerated by Italians who recall his kind gestures. While he was pope for less than five years, his short pontificate coincided with the post-World War Two “economic miracle” that transformed Italy from a devastated agricultural backwater to an international economic power.

(Additional reporting by Dagmara Leskowicz, editing by Barry Moody/Mark Heinrich)


Vatican commission clears John Paul II for sainthood, may be canonized with John XXIII

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Report and Image: Canadian Press

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II has cleared the final obstacle before being made a saint, awaiting just the final approval from Pope Francis and a date for the ceremony that could come as soon as Dec. 8, a Vatican official and news reports said Tuesday.

The ANSA news agency reported that a commission of cardinals and bishops met Tuesday to consider John Paul’s case and signed off on it. A Vatican official confirmed that the decision had been taken some time back and that Tuesday’s meeting was essentially a formality.

One possible canonization date is Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the Catholic Church. This year the feast coincidentally falls on a Sunday, which is when canonizations usually occur.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized by the church to discuss saint-making cases on the record, confirmed reports in La Stampa newspaper that John Paul could be canonized together with Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council but died in 1963 before it was finished.

There is reasoned precedent for beatifying or canonizing two popes together, primarily to balance one another out.

John Paul has been on the fast track for possible sainthood ever since his 2005 death, but there remains some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See’s deep-seated problems — clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank — essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Defenders of the fast-track process argue that people are canonized, not pontificates.

But the Vatican in the past has sought to balance concerns about papal saints by giving two the honour at the same time. Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the “good pope,” alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

By canonizing John Paul II along with John XXIII, the Vatican could be seeking to assuage concerns about John Paul’s fast-track sainthood case by tying it together with the 50-year wait John XXIII has had to endure.

Many Poles have been awaiting the final steps of John Paul’s progress, which has been pushed for by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish pope’s longtime private secretary.

“We should be very happy if it is confirmed,” Dziwisz’s spokesman, the Rev. Robert Necek told Polish TVN24 television. “This is the next and the last step towards canonization. It will be presented to Pope Francis and the pope will take the appropriate decision.”

During John Paul’s 2005 funeral Mass, chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Now!” erupted in St. Peter’s Square. Heeding the calls, then-Pope Benedict XVI waived the typical five-year waiting period and allowed an investigation into John Paul’s life to begin immediately. The investigation determined that the beloved Polish-born pope lived a virtuous life, the first step in the sainthood process.

Subsequently, the Vatican determined that a French nun who prayed for his intercession was miraculously cured of Parkinson’s disease. A second miracle is needed for canonization. The Vatican hasn’t divulged any details about that second purported miracle.

___

Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw.


Second Miracle Attributed to Pope John Paul II; Set for Fastest Sainthood in Modern History

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By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
June 19, 2013|7:55 pm

Pope John Paul II, The popular Polish pope who served from 1978 until his death in 2005, has had a second miracle attributed to his name, setting him on course toward the fastest canonization in modern Roman Catholic Church history.

The Vatican Insider reported on Tuesday that doctors and a commission of theologians agreed to attribute a second miracle to his name, meaning that now the final step for Pope John Paul II to become a saint is for cardinals and bishops to agree on the decision.

The miracle is the healing of a Costa Rican woman, who suffered from severe brain damage before she had an “inexplicable recovery.” According to The Independent, Italian newspaper Il Giornale quoted Vatican officials who claimed that a double miracle had actually been performed, because not only was the woman healed, but the faith of her family had been restored.

While the Vatican has yet to release the full details behind the case, the miracle supposedly occurred in May 2011, the day of John Paul II’s beatification.

The first miracle attributed to the pontiff, which led to his beatification, concerned another healing –a French nun who recovered from Parkinson’s disease in 2005. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre had said that her illness suddenly vanished when her order started praying on her behalf, and she wrote down Pope John Paul II’s name on a piece of paper.

The 2005 miracle left the pope only steps away from sainthood, and if in the coming weeks the Congregation for the Causes of Saints’ commission of cardinals and bishops verifies this reported second miracle, he will become the fastest saint to be recognized by the Church in its modern history, just eight years following his death.

The Atlantic Wire reminded readers that up until this point, the person to go through the quickest path to sainthood was Josemaria Escriva, the Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei, canonized 27 years after his death by Pope John Paul II himself.

Canonizations were a regular event during the Polish pope’s reign. He proclaimed 482 saints which is more than during the leadership of the previous 17 popes put together.

While Pope John Paul II’s canonization is not yet set in stone, The Insider speculated that the fast process suggests that the current pope, Francis, is also in favor of the proposed sainthood.

 


Tainted Saint: Mother Teresa Defended Pedophile Priest

This article is raising all kinds of fire on all sides of the argument. Anne Rice posted this on her FACEBOOK PAGE. And it has garnered over 300 comments in just a few hours of being up. Whether the allegations are true or not, one thing remains, can the letters written on Missionaries of Charity letterhead be those of Mother Teresa? The jury is out on that question.

I’ve read her case for sainthood and I can tell you that Mother Teresa can be blind to all things except service to Jesus. Whether she understood the severity of the charges and whether she turned a blind eye like John Paul II did during his papacy could be contested.

Did she know what pedophilia meant? I mean did she understand the concept or could she really fathom that a servant of God could do such a thing? Because above all John Paul II always defended his priests to the death of them. He believed in vocation to a fatal flaw. He’d rather overlook a flaw then point a finger at one of his priests, which only exacerbated this issue to get to where it is today.

John Paul II was a great statesman. He could pull off a smile for the public and when he got behind closed doors he was known to lambaste whoever was in his line of fire. And this happened on many occasions throughout his papacy.

Mother Teresa was a woman of faith in Catholic Hierarchy. There are several other allegations mentioned in the piece below that cast aspersions on the good name of Mother Teresa. Like hoarding money from world dictators and that she supported people who are not thought to be savory. And that the care she offered was below par and unacceptable. All these allegations are written to incite the reader to choose a position and not look at other factors of the lives involved.

Should you trust the writer of this piece?

I would contend that this is an attention piece aimed at Mother Teresa as the process for sainthood progresses. You could naturally remove her from this article and the allegations of pedophilia stand on their own. She just happens to be mentioned in the correspondences, and it is assumed that it is she that was directly involved in the protection of a pedophile.

What do you believe and who do you believe??? That is up to the reader. But unless you have studied this subject, religion, saints, and sainthood to the degree that I have, what you believe is entirely up to you.

I always state from the start that if you comment, you better know what you are talking about and can back it up in education or fact. Two degrees, one in Religion and a second in Theology give me a leg up here. That is fact…

I have my issues with Mother Teresa. She has angered me, blessed me and made me believe in Jesus more than I ever have and I even tattooed my body to honor her.

Then something like this pops up out of the firmament and asks us to judge her based on some article written with excessive slant and finger pointing and unlike some who would want to taint the life of a woman who is bound to be sainted in the near future, this is just a blip on the radar.

Nobody can prove either way what Mother Teresa knew, and how much she knew and if she knew, why did she turn a blind eye to it? Because like I have said, this woman was blinded by many things. Love of God, Love of Jesus, service to the poor, service to the least of these.

She was blinded by her own dark heart and her own admission of being blind of Jesus for a time in her ministry.That was the one flaw that always angered me about her, that even with eyes to see, much of her ministry was slanted to the poor and to Jesus and in that state you could say she was blinded. She may not have wanted to see, or just couldn’t see or maybe understand.

This was not something known to her in her vernacular and from her time period. Pedophilia was not common knowledge back in her years of education. And I think the Catholic hierarchy kept her in the dark to a degree as well. This is testified in her memoirs for sainthood.

She was kept on a very short leash by the priests she confessed to and those whom she called on to serve her community and her people. She was blinded by service to Jesus, forsaking all others. Could she really be guilty of what they are saying she did?

She is not here to defend herself. It is up to the people and their faith. And in the end only God can judge her. And for all intents and purposes, this will probably not affect her case for sainthood. But could damn the other men involved in this story.

I was going to leave a comment on the page but decided that I would post it here for posterity to see where this goes. I will be watching for more updates on this story.

*** *** *** ***

By Peter Jamison Wednesday, Jan 11 2012

San Francisco Weekly …

The death of journalist and polemicist Christopher Hitchens last month gave those familiar with his work a chance to revisit one of his more controversial subjects: the Albanian nun Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known to the world as Mother Teresa. In his 1997 book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, Hitchens argued that the “Saint of Calcutta,” who founded and headed the international Missionaries of Charity order, enjoyed undeserved esteem.

Despite her humanitarian reputation and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa had set up a worldwide system of “homes for the dying” that routinely failed to provide adequate care to patients, Hitchens argued — an appraisal shared by The Lancet, a respected medical journal. Mother Teresa also associated with, and took large sums of money from, disreputable figures such as American savings-and-loan swindler Charles Keating and the dictatorial Duvalier family of Haiti.

Notwithstanding these black marks on an otherwise sterling reputation, Mother Teresa — who died in 1997 and is now on the fast track to a formal proclamation of sainthood by the Vatican — was never known to have been touched by the scandal that would rock the Roman Catholic Church in the decade after her death: the systematic protection of child-molesting priests by church officials.

Yet documents obtained by SF Weekly suggest that Mother Teresa knew one of her favorite priests was removed from ministry for sexually abusing a Bay Area boy in 1993, and that she nevertheless urged his bosses to return him to work as soon as possible. The priest resumed active ministry, as well as his predatory habits. Eight additional complaints were lodged against him in the coming years by various families, leading to his eventual arrest on sex-abuse charges in 2005.

The priest was Donald McGuire, a former Jesuit who has been convicted of molesting boys in federal and state courts and is serving a 25-year federal prison sentence. McGuire, now 81 years old, taught at the University of San Francisco in the late 1970s, and held frequent spiritual retreats for families in San Francisco and Walnut Creek throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He also ministered extensively to the Missionaries of Charity during that time.

In a 1994 letter to McGuire’s Jesuit superior in Chicago, it appears that Mother Teresa acknowledged she had learned of the “sad events which took [McGuire] from his priestly ministry these past seven months,” and that McGuire “admitted imprudence in his behavior,” but she wished to see him put back on the job. The letter was written after McGuire had been sent to a psychiatric hospital following an abuse complaint to the Jesuits by a family in Walnut Creek.

“I understand how grave is the scandal touching the priesthood in the U.S.A. and how careful we must be to guard the purity and reputation of that priesthood,” the letter states. “I must say, however, that I have confidence and trust in Fr. McGuire and wish to see his vital ministry resume as soon as possible.”

The one-page letter comes from thousands of pages of church records that have been shared with plaintiffs’ attorneys in ongoing litigation against the Jesuits involving McGuire. (The documents were also shared with prosecutors who worked on his criminal cases.) It is printed on Missionaries of Charity letterhead but is unsigned, and thus cannot be verified absolutely as having been written by Mother Teresa. Officials in the Missionaries of Charity and the Jesuits did not respond to requests for comment on its provenance.

Yet statements throughout the letter point to Mother Teresa as the author. The writer speaks of “my communities throughout the world” and refers by name to Mother Teresa’s four top deputies, calling them “my four assistants.” Rev. Joseph Fessio, a Jesuit and former University of San Francisco professor who knew Mother Teresa, said the reference to her assistants is an “authentic” aspect of the letter.

The letter could have an impact on the near-complete process of canonizing Mother Teresa. In 2003 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, the penultimate step to full sainthood.

“What we see here is the same thing we see over and over in regard to the [priest pedophilia] scandal — the complete lack of empathy for, or interest in, possible victims of these accused priests,” said Anne Rice, the bestselling author of novels including Interview with the Vampire and a former Catholic who has been outspoken in her criticism of the church’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal. “In this letter the concern is for the reputation of the priesthood. This is as disappointing as it is shocking.”

Other documents that have emerged in the criminal and civil cases involving McGuire could affect the sainthood prospects of another deceased religious leader eyed by the Vatican for sainthood. Among the newly uncovered church records are letters by Rev. John Hardon, a Jesuit who also worked extensively with Mother Teresa and died in 2000. He collaborated with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a landmark summation of contemporary church doctrine. In 2005, the Vatican opened a formal inquiry into whether Hardon should be made a saint.

But statements by Hardon in his letters could complicate that process. The documents reveal McGuire admitted to Hardon that he was taking showers with the teenage boy from Walnut Creek whose complaint led to McGuire’s psychiatric treatment. He also acknowledged soliciting body massages from the boy and letting him read pornography in the room they shared on trips together.

Despite these admissions, Hardon concluded that his fellow Jesuit’s actions were “objectively defensible,” albeit “highly imprudent,” and told McGuire’s bosses that he “should be prudently allowed to engage in priestly ministry.”

The postulators, or Vatican-appointed researchers and advocates for sainthood, assigned to investigate Mother Teresa and Hardon did not respond to repeated requestsfor comment.

While it is unclear exactly what impact the new documents will have on the evaluation of both figures for sainthood, the evidence of involvement by two prominent and internationally respected Catholics in the McGuire sex-abuse scandal is likely to cause consternation among critics of the church’s handling of predator priests. The situation is aggravated since McGuire went on to abuse more children after suggestions to return him to ministry were heeded.

“We’re talking about extremely powerful people who could have gotten Father McGuire off the streets in 1994,” said Patrick Wall, a lawyer and former Benedictine monk who performs investigations on behalf of abuse victims suing the Catholic Church. “I’m thinking of all those post-’94 kids who could have been saved.”


It is unknown exactly when Hardon, McGuire, and Mother Teresa first crossed paths. But chances are good that the first time they all found themselves together in the same place was in San Francisco in 1981. It was the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis of Assisi, the city’s namesake. Hardon invited Mother Teresa, who attended celebratory services at which she was introduced to McGuire, according to Fessio, who was present.

Fessio, who today heads the Ignatius Press, a Catholic publishing house in the Sunset District, said Mother Teresa was impressed by McGuire’s reputation as an erudite, engaging preacher. She arranged to have him perform retreats — based on the Spiritual Exercises by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order — for her missionaries around the world. “She was always looking for priests to say mass for the different places in the world where she had missions,” Fessio recalled.

In McGuire, she found a priest whose strict adherence to traditional Catholic practices matched her own views. Mother Teresa was an extreme conservative on questions of religious doctrine. She declared during her speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize that abortion was “the greatest destroyer of peace” in the modern world. McGuire was likewise stoutly orthodox in his public persona, requesting that women wear long skirts in his presence and often assailing other Jesuits for their relatively tolerant approaches to political and social issues.

Some insight into the reverence the Missionaries of Charity held for McGuire and his retreats and sermons can be gleaned from letters sent to Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge James Carlson, who oversaw the trial that resulted in McGuire’s first conviction in 2006.

Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa’s successor as the superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, wrote, “He was one of the very few priests to whom … Teresa of Calcutta entrusted the spiritual care of the Missionaries of Charity through retreats, seminars and spiritual guidance wherever possible.”

Sister Mary Christa, another nun with the Missionaries of Charity, wrote, “Father’s immense love for Jesus Christ radiated brilliantly through his every word and gesture, and his whole concern was to inspire the Sisters with a more intense desire for holiness. His wisdom, immense knowledge of Holy Scripture, and saintly manner of life made a profound impression on all of us.”

But McGuire’s holy veneer concealed signs of a dark side that were already evident to select church officials long before he met Mother Teresa.

Documents that have emerged in the criminal prosecution of McGuire and civil litigation against the Jesuits over his actions show that suspicions about the priest were brought to his higher-ups beginning soon after his ordination in 1961. During his first teaching assignment, at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill., he molested at least two boys, whose cases led to his first criminal conviction decades later.

The Jesuits, who have formally apologized to McGuire’s victims for failing to adequately control the priest, have nevertheless asserted in legal filings that they should not be held liable for the harm he did to children during his career. In a June 2011 motion in a lawsuit filed against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, the order’s lawyers asserted that McGuire is “an evil and perverted man who used his substantial intellectual gifts and his dominating personality to disobey every tenet of his faith and his vows as a cleric.”

(SF Weekly reported on the Jesuits’ failure to protect children from McGuire in a previous cover story, “Let Him Prey” [5/25/11].)

One of the best-documented instances of abuse in McGuire’s record is one in which neither the victim nor his family chose to pursue litigation against the church. Jesuit records show that in April 1993, a devout Catholic man in Walnut Creek came forward with the complaint that his 16-year-old son, who traveled with McGuire as his personal assistant, had looked at pornographic magazines, showered, and masturbated with the priest.

Following this complaint, McGuire was removed from active ministry and sent to Saint John Vianney Center, a psychiatric-treatment facility for clerics in Pennsylvania. It was there that Hardon — whom the victim’s family had requested investigate their allegations — interviewed McGuire and chose to exonerate him. After six hours of face-to-face talks at the hospital, Hardon wrote to McGuire in a January 1994 letter, “I firmly expressed my belief in your innocence of any sexual misbehavior.”

McGuire returned to his order at the beginning of 1994, but his future, including the extent to which he would be allowed to interact with families and children as a priest, was still unclear. Hardon’s letter to McGuire reveals that the errant Jesuit still worried that the sex-abuse allegations lodged against him would mar his prospects for continued work with Mother Teresa, work that considerably enhanced McGuire’s prestige among other Catholics to whom he ministered.

“You expressed your deep fear that despite your proven innocence of all charges, somehow you would nevertheless not be allowed to continue your retreat ministry to Mother Teresa’s sisters,” Hardon wrote. At the conclusion of his letter, Hardon indicated that the matter would soon be resolved in direct consultation with the “Saint of Calcutta” herself.

“And so, Don, this is the state of the question on this eve of my departure for Calcutta, India, where, with your permission, I will be communicating with Mother Teresa about your situation and your future,” he wrote.


A letter written less than a month later, on Feb. 2, 1994, appears to contain an answer to the questions about his future with the Missionaries of Charity that dogged McGuire after his release from treatment at Saint John Vianney. It is addressed to Brad Schaeffer, Provincial, or head, of the Chicago section of the Jesuits. (While McGuire’s ministry took him across the U.S. and into foreign countries, he was officially under the supervision of the Jesuits’ Chicago Province.)

The letter is not signed, though it begins with a handwritten salutation in Mother Teresa’s characteristic looping script. It is unclear whether additional pages are missing from the document, or whether the writer simply failed to attach a signature. Clues throughout the letter, however, indicate that Mother Teresa is the author. The writer refers to “my communities throughout the world” and praises McGuire’s preaching to “my novices in our new novitiate in San Francisco” in 1982. (Novices are aspiring nuns who have not yet taken vows.)

More significantly, the writer refers to “my four assistants, Sisters Mary Frederick, Priscilla, Monica and Joseph Michael.” In 1994, the councilors general of the Missionaries of Charity — a group of four senior nuns who directly advised Mother Teresa, and were subordinate to no one else in the order — were Sisters Frederick, Priscilla, Monica, and Joseph Michael (Upon taking vows, nuns sometimes assume the names of male religious figures).

“That’s authentic, mentioning those people,” Fessio said. “Those were herfour councilors.”

(View the original letter, and other documents mentioned in this story in the “details” box.)

Nuns at the primary U.S. office of the Missionaries of Charity, in New York City, referred all questions related to McGuire to the Mother Teresa Center in San Ysidro, Calif. Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator for the sainthood cause of Mother Teresa and director of the center, did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Schaeffer, the letter’s recipient, is now the rector of a Jesuit community in Brighton, Mass., and serves on the board of trustees of Boston College. He did not respond to phone messages. The Chicago Province of the Jesuits also did not respond to requests for comment.

If Mother Teresa did write the letter to Schaeffer, it is unclear how much she learned about the circumstances under which McGuire was disciplined. The letter states, “During his recent visit to Calcutta in the past month, Fr. John Hardon, S.J., brought a letter to me from Fr. McGuire, describing the sad events which took him from his priestly ministry these past seven months. Fr. Hardon explained … how he had established Father’s innocence of the allegations against him. Father Hardon said that Fr. McGuire admitted imprudence in his behavior.”

SF Weekly could not obtain the letter written by McGuire that is mentioned, or find anyone who had seen it. Following the exhortation that McGuire be returned to active ministry, the Missionaries of Charity letter concludes, “We, in the Missionaries of Charity, will do all in our power, to protect him and the Priesthood of Jesus Christ which he bears, when he once more takes up his mission with us.”

Tariq Ali, the British intellectual who produced and co-wrote with Hitchens the sharply critical 1994 documentary film on Mother Teresa, Hell’s Angel, said the letter fit with what he described as the nun’s pattern of consorting with dubious personalities.

Among the problems chronicled in Hell’s Angel were substandard care for the poor who filled her hospitals, and her willingness to accept money from notorious figures such as Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier of Haiti, who presided over a brutally repressive regime under which most Haitians lived in abject poverty. Duvalier’s own lifestyle was luxurious, thanks to revenue from his participation in the drug trade and practice of selling dead Haitian citizens’ cadavers overseas. Mother Teresa once posed for a photograph holding hands with Duvalier’s wife, Michèle.

“When Christopher Hitchens and I made the film on her, the research was impeccable,” Ali said. “She was close to dictators. She took money wherever she could. The care in her hospitals was poor. It was just one nightmare after another. From that time on, I saw her as a total fake,” Ali said. The letter, he added, “would only be surprising if one saw her as a moral person, and I don’t.”

Anne Sebba, a biographer of Mother Teresa, said the founder of the Missionaries of Charity had never before been tainted by knowing involvement with a pedophile priest. However, she said the nun’s response to criticism of her coziness with figures such as the Duvaliers and savings-and-loan scamster Charles Keating — for whom she pleaded for leniency during his trial and eventual conviction on fraud charges — was that she was practicing forgiveness in line with Christian ideals.

“Her answer was always that any miserable sinner deserved to be given a chance to do good,” Sebba said. “She argued that Jesus always offered redemption, and no sinner was beyond redemption.”

In McGuire, Mother Teresa encountered a challenge to that belief. After his return to ministry in 1994, McGuire would see eight new abuse allegations lodged against him by boys’ families. In 2006, he was found guilty of molesting two boys decades earlier at the Loyola Academy. In 2008, he was convicted in federal court of taking a boy across state lines for the purpose of sexually abusing him. According to federal prosecutors, McGuire probed the boy’s anus with his fingers during “massages,” examined his penis with a magnifying glass, and looked at pornography with him.

McGuire has maintained his innocence of the charges against him, asserting that his victims fabricated stories to secure financial settlements from the Jesuits. His Chicago-based lawyer, Stephen Komie, said that McGuire’s appeals of his state and federal convictions were unsuccessful, however. “He’s going to die in prison, absent a pardon, and I don’t think that’s in the cards,” Komie said.

The father of the Walnut Creek boy whose abuse allegation prompted McGuire’s psychiatric treatment in 1993 said the information in the new documents is unfortunate, but not shocking. “That McGuire fooled Father Hardon and Mother Teresa like he did so many others is disappointing, but not a surprise,” he said. “It shows that a person doesn’t have to be a mind-reader in order to be a saint.”

A second Walnut Creek man who says McGuire abused him as a child, and who is participating in a lawsuit against the Jesuits, reacted to the letter that might be from Mother Teresa more strongly.

“I was totally blown away by it,” said the man, who is identified in court records only as John Doe 129 and whom SF Weekly is not identifying by name because he is an alleged victim of childhood sexual abuse. “I just don’t know how somebody supposedly so saintly, supposedly such a protector of the weak and the poor, could be so indifferent to it,” he said.


Hardon’s letter to McGuire, as well as the letter that appears to have been written by Mother Teresa, indicate it was Hardon who personally carried news of McGuire’s situation to Calcutta. It is thus important to understand how much Hardon knew when he visited Mother Teresa in January 1994. On this front, newly uncovered documents show the Jesuit in an unflattering light, and may have a serious impact on his prospects for sainthood.

In addition to his January 1994 letter to McGuire, Hardon wrote a detailed explication of his knowledge of and involvement in McGuire’s case to Schaeffer, the Jesuits’ Chicago provincial, in November 1993. The father of the alleged abuse victim from Walnut Creek had requested that Hardon personally intercede to assess exactly what McGuire had done to the teenage boy. At the time, Hardon was an internationally known and beloved priest who had staked his reputation on championing a conservative strain of Catholicism, not dissimilar to McGuire’s, that was often at odds with the beliefs of his more liberal-minded fellow Jesuits.

During a visit to Saint John Vianney, Hardon had a frank conversation with McGuire in which the latter admitted to taking showers with his alleged victim, asking the boy to massage his body, and allowing him to possess pornography in the room they shared while traveling. McGuire denied additional allegations that he had touched the boy’s genitals and watched him masturbate.

Hardon was apparently satisfied with what he heard. As he wrote to Schaeffer, “Regarding showering, Fr. Don said that it was true, but the picture is not one of a lingering sensual experience. It was rather the picture of two firemen, responding to an emergency, one of whom was seriously handicapped and in need of support and care from the other.”

On the body rubs: “Regarding the massages, Fr. Don said they were done with attention to modesty and were necessary to relieve spasm at the 4th-5th lumbar disc and the right leg, involving the sciatic nerve.” (The fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae are at the bottom of the spine, just above the buttocks.)

And the dirty magazines: “Regarding pornography Fr. Don said that there were Playboy and Penthouse magazines, which he neither got nor threw away.”

Hardon concluded in the letter, “I do not believe there was any conscious and deliberate sexual perversity.” He added, “I do believe Fr. McGuire was acting on principles which, though objectively defensible, were highly imprudent.” He also concluded that another serious charge against McGuire, that the priest had violated the seal of confession by disclosing private information about the boy during an argument with his father, was unfounded.

The 1993 victim’s family did not respond to requests for comment regarding the revelations in the letters. Other observers, noting the blasé manner in which Hardon speaks of a priest showering with a teenage boy and his unconcern with a supposedly orthodox cleric’s tolerance for porn, say the letter will cast a shadow on the late Jesuit’s reputation.

“I will never look at John Hardon the same way again,” said Wall, the former Benedictine monk.

Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, said the letter could be a stumbling block for the sainthood cause of Hardon, who is still in the early stages of being investigated by Vatican deputies. The most rigorous review of a candidate’s life typically comes prior to the first milestone in the process, called veneration. Following that are beatification and canonization.

Lawler described Hardon’s statements about McGuire as “shocking.”

“What will it do for his cause? It will slow it down,” Lawler said.

Rev. Robert McDermott, a priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and postulator for Hardon’s cause, initially agreed to review Hardon’s letter about McGuire and comment on it. After receiving it, he did not respond to subsequent calls and e-mails from SF Weekly.

Lawler said the letter apparently written by Mother Teresa, by contrast, is unlikely to stop her from clearing the final hurdle of canonization.

“I think her reputation is safe,” Lawler said. “It doesn’t fluster me that she would try to help a friend, and didn’t know what was going on. Her reputation is so safe that, even if this is a negative, it doesn’t much weighon it.”

The extent to which the new documents will influence the canonization of either Hardon or Mother Teresa should, ideally, only be assessed after a thorough investigation of what both figures knew about McGuire, and how much influence their advocacy on his behalf had in the disastrous decision to return him to ministry in 1994. But in light of the church’s past lack of diligence in dealing with priestly abuse, that might be a lot to hope for.

Mother Teresa is perhaps the most famous and popular Catholic religious leader of the second half of the 20th century, rivaled only by the late Pope John Paul II. Hardon’s cause is likewise dear to senior officials in the Vatican. The investigation into his potential sainthood was initiated by Raymond Burke, the cardinal and former archbishop of St. Louis who is now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura — a position that could be described as the chief justice of the Catholic Church’s supreme court.

Lawler pointed out that dozens of American bishops who protected known child molesters in the clergy remain on the job today. Will similar efforts to shield a predator by figures of possibly saintly stature haveany fallout?

“You asked me whether this matter could affect the progress of Father Hardon’s cause [for canonization], and I said that it definitely would. It might have been more accurate if I had said it definitely should,” Lawler said. “I hope that people would recognize this as a serious issue that demands attention. But this is an issue on which the record of the American Catholic hierarchy is still not good.”


The Burning …

Courtesy: I’ll be the sun …

Last night I came home from the meeting after talking to my sponsor and I had a lot to think about, and I was encouraged not to make any decisions right away about what I wanted to do with “the letter.”

I watched Oprah’s Life Class last night, “Joy Rising…” I just needed something good for my soul and to forget the pain that was in my heart for an hour. After that I tuned in some Military Channel and 2 docs on WW I.

It will be on my final exam for my Western Civ class so I thought maybe I should watch them. But there are so many parties involved in the Great War and the assassination that started the whole deal. I am not sure how one would approach the essay on this topic.

I got to bed after 3:30 in the morning. Forgetting that CJAD goes off topic from Coast to Coast at 3 am in opt for those infomercial vitamin specials. I usually pipe in AM 640 Toronto from the computer, but last night it slipped my mind.

I got into bed and curled up with a good book. Come be my Light, the Mother Teresa evidence for canonization.

I had started reading the book when I first got it, and about three quarters way through it, I wanted to throw it against the wall because she made me so angry. So I put the book down. And put it back on the shelf. I only picked it back up the other night and finished the read through, so I thought I would start reading it again from the beginning since I am in a righter mind to accept the message.

And with all that’s going on in  my head, I hear Mother Teresa saying to me that I have to give it all to Jesus, my life, my love, my suffering and my happiness and joy. Just give it all over, because Jesus suffered so much for us, that we should be united with him on the cross…

Just what I needed to hear at this point in my sobriety.

Family …

I was born to a 60’s couple of mixed background in the Northeast U.S. in a bastion of ultra conservative Catholic parishes. After my brother was born my mother had a tubiligation and was ex-communicated from the church because it was birth control. Doctors said she couldn’t have any more kids, so let’s tie the tubes shall we… It’s a good thing there were only 2 of us.

I was baptized and given a name. A name that wasn’t mine to begin with. He was a soldier who fought with my father in Viet Nam. He was killed and my father was never the same. I am making this all up from my lifetime’s observations and studies of the gay man, and the self hating gay man.

My father came away from that war with secrets. I am sure of it today.

Everything I learned about being gay as a kid, came directly from my father’s bathroom reading material and the collection of magazines he had hid in the garage. Thanks to a little snooping on my part I had enough reading material to last me months and months.

If my father was totally straight, and totally Catholic by the book, hell, fire, and damnation, why was he exploring variations ???

When my father began to heavily abuse me after drinking himself into a stupor he would recite this mantra with every swing of the belt … “You were a mistake and should never have been born…” This went on for almost twenty years.

I was supposed to carry a name of a dead soldier that had something to do with my father emotionally, and he was beating me, in the name of the man he named me after, what was going on in his head?

1. Was he in the closet and hating the man who died?

2. Was he beating me to exorcise his own demons?

3. Was he just an angry man all around?

4. Or was he just beating me to beat me?

When I turned 30, I was sick as a dog, and frequented my death bed. That was only four years into my AIDS diagnosis. I was still suffering in big ways. I had not leveled out yet. And I knew my parents were not on board. None of my immediate family was on board.

I sat in my living room one night watching tv, and I was reading my bible listening to Pearl Jam and it all happened just like that.

Jeremy’s Spoken …

I knew that had I died my family would have swooped in and taken my body and my life and condemned my eternity to some slum burial in some backwater graveyard without proper identity and recognition. It would have been as if I had not existed at all. I was dead, who would know any better ?

So I went to court and legally changed my name. To keep them from ever having any part in my care or burial. I had legally divorced my family out of my life. But that decision took on a life of its own.

So to date I was (1.)  Gay (2.)  HIV + (3.)  Legally changing my name.

I had nailed three nails in my proverbial casket…

It took me all these years to work out what it all meant.

It wasn’t my fault.

When people show you who they are the first time, believe them. I needed this realization 20 years earlier.

When I changed my name, in essence, my father’s beating mantra of “You were a mistake and should never have been born” became a self fulfilling prophecy. I had killed that boy, he wanted dead when I was growing up. I had given him the very thing he wanted so much himself.

Even though I tried to be the good son, there was no way I was ever going to make a dent in the damnation that I was facing from the very beginning. They were set in their ways. And I wasn’t going to change them no matter how hard I tried. Once I sealed the deal, it was done for me.

And it took me till today to make this connection for myself.

I have been waiting for lightening to strike. A miracle to happen. And like I said last night, sometimes the miracle comes from a direction you didn’t expect.

My prayers to Blessed John Paul II and to Mother Teresa were answered.

Long ago. In a universe far far away, I once prayed for my father’s death. I prayed that prayer for years. Waiting for God to smite him. So that I could ride in on my white horse and save my mother and reclaim her for myself. This before any of these changes took place. I was sick and had no where to go, and I assumed that if the old man was dead, I could move to Sarasota and take on my mother’s care as my life’s work. Ever the savior !!!

He didn’t die. I went on with my life. And here we are today.

Coming to Canada was the final nail in my coffin. I had spit on the heritage of my bleeding deacon U.S.A. war veteran father. How dare I cross the border and take my mother’s heritage? Because when he imported her she had to forswear her origins and deny her roots. She didn’t complete that task until 1974. Both my brother and myself were born with birthright Canadian Citizenship, because mum was still technically, Canadian.

Tonight after some prayer and meditation, I took that letter I wrote to them and placed in my fire can on my balcony, and I burned the letter and flushed the ashes down the toilet.

As far as I am concerned this issue is finished. I cannot change them. It is not my fault. And in the end I learned a few lessons that took almost half my life.

And some say sobriety is a cake walk … NOT !!! 23 days …


Fallout …

Courtesy: Suitep

What an incredible few days it has been, on many fronts. What a weekend it was for Mr. President. A very gutsy man with balls of steel and a resolve just the same. Who knew from Adam what was going on in his head over the weekend seeing him traveling in the U.S. and yukking it up at the Correspondents dinner on Saturday night.

And who knew what Sunday would bring … I just cannot imagine.

I am sure that Mr. Obama’s stock has risen over the past few days. This kill shot was something that I think will translate into better numbers and even help him in the long run for re-election. At least I hope that is what happens. That’s all we need is for some jamokey republican asshole to win an election, God forbid.

At this point I think the White House is channeling some Ricky Ricardo when he says to Lucy “You got some ‘splainin to do!” Pakistan is not going to skate away with this gigantic intelligence flub. Someone was protecting Osama. Someone must have known he was there, I mean it’s pretty clear from all the information that has been released about this event.

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We have had a Royal Wedding, The beatification of John Paul II in Rome, the killing of Osama bin Laden and an election here in Canada. The fallout from the election is huge. The Orange wave came to Quebec and took the province by storm. There were incredible losses for the Bloq. The Bloq leader lost his seat in an upset, and in the end resigned from his position as party leader, not to mention the Bloq lost party status in the House of Parliament. You must have at least 12 seats to be afforded party status, and the Bloq lost in a bloodbath last night. So the Bloq is all but kaput. So much for that referendum.

Mr. Layton won a huge number of ridings here in Quebec. Many freshman young M.P’s are going to Ottawa, and we are so proud of the huge wins by the NDP. Not to mention with 102 seats won, for the first time in history the NDP wins the coveted title of Official Opposition Party in the commons. I mean the room went nuts when Jack Layton walked out to greet the party. My vote made a difference.

The Conservatives won a majority. As I have read on other blogs tonight, the earth did not shift on its axis, we will all survive this. And in the end we hope the government does what it said it will do. Canada needs to work to protect the people of Canada, we need more jobs, a secure financial sector and we need to solidify our place in the worlds eyes.

I questioned the ability of Mr. Ignatieff to win anything that’s why a lot of voters went with Jack. The Liberal party was decimated last night. The leader of the party as well, lost his seat and resigned from the party this morning. A leadership convention is coming. There is rumbling about Justin Trudeau, can he step up, if he is tapped as the heir apparent? Can the magic happen? Justin won’t say what he is going to do to that end just yet. At least he won his riding for the Liberal party, beating out the Bloq incumbent.

We saw history happen last night. The total collapse of the Bloq and the Liberal party. I heard it mentioned on the news coverage about Canada moving towards a two party system in Parliament. It seems the voters were over all the drama and political bullshit and we all voted for change and hope. The voters have spoken. Now the parties MUST rise to the occasion and do what they have been mandated to do.

A good chunk of Quebec went orange, with hints of red and blue here and there. Mr. Layton’s crop of young bloods have got some serious shoes to fill.

So much to look forwards to in the coming months.

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Here on the home front we are in the final weeks of classes. I have class tomorrow night and then a final and essay due on Thursday night, which I still have to write yet, then my final interview to come next week on the 9th.

It rained today. But numbers were nominal for the meeting. Lots of new faces and the conversation was nice and lively. We are pleased with what we have for today.

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So what do we know ???

  1. The Princess got her man
  2. Obama got Osama
  3. The NDP won big in Canada

Life goes on and we will all survive. The world is a safer place because the face and person of evil is dead and is floating at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, Thanks be to God.

The era of Osama is over.

Well Done Mr. President. We are so very proud of you…


Pope beatifies John Paul II before a crowd of over 1 million, tears and cheers erupt

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before more than a million faithful in St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood.

The crowd in Rome and in capitals around the world erupted in cheers, tears and applause as an enormous photo of a young, smiling John Paul was unveiled over the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica and a choir launched into hymn long associated with the Polish-born pope.

“He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope,” Benedict said in his homily, which was dotted with personal recollections of a man Benedict said he came to “revere” during their near-quarter century working together.

Beatification is the first major milestone on the path to possible sainthood, one of the Catholic Church’s highest honours. A second miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession is needed for him to be canonized.

The beatification, the fastest in modern times, is a morale boost for a church scarred by the sex abuse crisis, but it has also triggered a new wave of anger from victims because the scandal occurred under John Paul’s 27-year watch.

Police placed wide swaths of Rome even miles (kilometres) from the Vatican off limits to private cars to ensure security for the estimated 16 heads of state, seven prime ministers and five members of European royal houses attending.

Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, wearing a black lace mantilla, mingled with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Poland’s historic Solidarity leader and former President Lech Walesa and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who sidestepped an EU travel ban to attend.

“He went all over the world,” said Bishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, who came to Rome for the ceremony. “Today, we’re coming to him.”

Benedict put John Paul on the fast-track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his April 2, 2005, death. Benedict was responding to chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Immediately” which erupted during John Paul’s funeral.

On Sunday, a group of pilgrims from Krakow affixed a banner to a fence outside the square that says “Santo Subito,” evidence that for many of the faithful, John Paul already is a saint.

“John Paul was a wonderful man and it’s a privilege to be here. It’s wonderful to see people from all across the world,” said Anne Honiball, 48, a nursing home administrator from Worthing, England who carried a small Union Jack flag.

“We missed the royal wedding but we are Catholics and this was a bit more important, I suppose,” said Honibal, a former Protestant who converted to Catholicism 10 years ago.

Around the world, Catholics celebrated the beatification, jamming churches from Mexico to Australia to pray and watch broadcasts of the Rome Mass on television.

“He was a model and an inspiration who united the world with his extraordinary charisma,” said John Paul Bustillo, a 16-year-old medical student named after the pontiff who turned out Sunday along with more than 3,000 for a six-mile (10-kilometre) race followed by a Mass near Manila Bay in the Philippines.

In John Paul’s native Poland, tens of thousands of people gathered in rain in a major sanctuary in Krakow and in Wadowice, where the pontiff was born in 1920 as Karol Wojtyla. Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his wife Malgorzata watched the ceremony together with Wadowice residents.

“I wonder what we would have been like and what would not have happened if we had not had our pope,” the PAP agency quoted Tusk as saying. “All that good that we all have received is still working.”

Speaking in Latin, Benedict pronounced John Paul “Blessed” shortly after the start of the Mass, held under bright blue skies and amid a sea of Poland’s red and white flags — a scene reminiscent of John Paul’s 2005 funeral, when some 3 million people paid homage to the pope.

Benedict recalled that day six years ago, saying the grief the world felt then was tempered by immense gratitude for his life and pontificate.

“Even then, we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity,” Benedict said, explaining the “reasonable haste” with which John Paul was being honoured.

Benedict said that through John Paul’s faith, courage and strength — “the strength of a titan, a strength which came to him from God” — John Paul had turned back the seemingly “irreversible” tide of Marxism.

“He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress,” Benedict said.

Police, government officials and the Vatican all put the figure of those attending the Mass at over a million; only a few hundred thousand could fit into St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding streets but others watched it on some of the 14 huge TV screens set up around town or listened to it on radios in Polish or Italian.

“I am disappointed but also happy to be here for the atmosphere,” said Boleslaw Wisniewski, 83, who came with five members of his family by bus from Warsaw. He stood listening to the music drifting over the packed crowd, but could see nothing.

“He’s our holy father — a Pole — and we are proud,” he said.

During the Mass, Benedict received a silver reliquary holding a vial of blood taken from John Paul during his final hosptalization. The relic, a key feature of beatification ceremonies, will be available for the faithful to venerate.

It was presented to him by Sister Tobiana, the Polish nun who tended to John Paul throughout his pontificate, and Sister Marie Simone-Pierre of France, whose inexplicable recovery from Parkinson’s disease was decreed to be the miracle necessary for John Paul to be beatified.

Helicopters flew overhead, police boats patrolled the nearby Tiber River and some 5,000 uniformed troops patrolled police barricades to ensure priests, official delegations and those with coveted VIP passes could get to their places.

Thousands of pilgrims, many of them from John Paul’s native Poland, spent the night in sleeping bags on bridges and in piazzas around town, and then packed St. Peter’s as soon as the barricades opened over an hour in advance because the crowds were too great.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the main boulevard leading to the Vatican, Via della Conciliazione, as well as on side streets around it and the bridges crossing the Tiber leading to St. Peter’s.

It’s the fastest beatification on record, coming just six years after John Paul died and beating out the beatification of Mother Teresa by a few days.

The beatification ceremonies kicked off officially with a all-night prayer vigil that began on Rome’s ancient Circus Maximus field and continued as pilgrims spent the night moving around eight churches that stayed open all night, a “white night” of prayer in honour of the late pope.

“The weather is mild and so it will not be a problem to pass the night here, and there is also a very nice atmosphere,” said Pauline Rosenfeld, a 20-year-old pilgrim from Paris sitting with friends in her sleeping bag gearing up for a night spent outdoors.

The beatification is taking place despite a drumbeat of criticism about the record speed with which John Paul is being honoured, and continued outrage about clerical abuse: Many of the crimes and coverups of priests who raped children occurred on John Paul’s 27-year watch.

Vatican officials have insisted that John Paul deserves beatification despite the fallout from the abuse scandal, saying the saint-making process isn’t a judgment of how he administered the church but rather whether he lived a life of Christian virtue.

But victims’ groups such as the U.S. Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests have said the speedy beatification was just “rubbing more salt in these wounds” of victims.

Rome itself seemed invaded by Poles overjoyed that their native son was being honoured. Special trains, planes and buses shuttled Poles in for the beatification.

Anna Fotyga, a former Polish foreign minister and member of Poland’s parliament, arrived on a special train Sunday morning carrying the Polish parliamentary delegation. She reminisced about John Paul’s impact on communist Poland in the late 1970s and 80s.

“I was a student at that time, and actually seeing him, listening to him started transformation in Poland, I am sure,” she said.

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Associated Press writer Daniela Petroff contributed.


Thousands jam St. Peter’s for beatification of John Paul, celebration to boost scarred church


Huge crowds descend on Vatican for Beatification.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people converged on St Peter’s Square in one of the biggest crowds ever seen at the Vatican on Sunday to participate in the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

Streams of people some 30 wide moved toward the Vatican area from all directions from before dawn to get a good spot for the Mass where Pope Benedict was to move his predecessor a step closer to sainthood.

The crowd of people, some carrying national flags and singing songs, was the largest seen in the capital since millions turned out for his funeral six years ago.

Many pilgrims camped out during the night. The entire Vatican area was sealed off as stewards marshaled the huge crowd toward St Peter’s Basilica, which was bedecked with posters and photos of the late pope.

Up to 200,000 people attended a prayer vigil on Saturday evening in the Circus Maximus, the huge oval once used by the ancient Romans for chariot races. Some Rome churches threw their doors open all night to give pilgrims a space to pray.

At the mass due to start at 0800 GMT Benedict will pronounce a Latin formula proclaiming one of the most popular popes in history a “blessed” of the Church.

A place of honor is reserved for Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun who suffered from Parkinson’s disease but whose inexplicable cure has been attributed to John Paul’s intercession with God to perform a miracle, thus permitting the beatification to go ahead.

The Vatican will have to attribute another miracle to John Paul’s intercession after the beatification in order for him to be declared a saint.

Some 90 official delegations from around the world, including members of five European royal families and 16 heads of state, will attend the beatification.

They include Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has been widely criticized for human rights abuses in his country. Mugabe is banned from traveling to the European Union, but the Vatican — a sovereign state — is not a member of the bloc.

COFFIN ON DISPLAY

Pope John Paul’s coffin was exhumed on Friday from the crypts below St Peter’s Basilica and will be placed in front of the main altar. After Sunday’s beatification mass, it will remain there and the basilica will remain open until all visitors who want to view it have done so.

It will then be moved to a new crypt under an altar in a side chapel near Michelangelo’s statue of the Pieta. The marble slab that covered his first burial place will be sent to Poland.

John Paul’s beatification has set a new speed record for modern times, taking place six years and one month after his death on April 2, 2005.

While the overwhelming number of Catholics welcome it, a minority are opposed, with some saying it happened too fast.

Liberals in the church say John Paul was too harsh with theological dissenters who wanted to help the poor, particularly in Latin America. Some say John Paul should be held ultimately responsible for the sexual abuse scandals because they occurred or came to light when he was in charge.

Ultra-Conservatives say he was too open toward other religions and that he allowed the liturgy to be “infected” by local cultures, such as African dancing, on his trips abroad.

The pope is being beatified on the day the Church celebrates the movable Feast of Divine Mercy, which this year happens to fall on May 1, the most important feast in the communist world.

The coincidence is ironic, given that many believe the pope played a key role in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

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VATICAN CITY – Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims jammed St. Peter’s Square and the streets around it Sunday for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, a joyful celebration to honour one of the best loved popes and a morale boost for a church scarred by the priestly sex abuse scandal.

The scene at dawn around the Vatican was reminiscent of John Paul’s final days in 2005, when some 3 million people staged around-the-clock vigils underneath his studio window and then paid their final respects once he had died.

On Sunday, the mood was ebullient: nuns sat in circles playing guitars and singing hymns, fathers hoisted their children on their shoulders so they could see above the masses, scouts and young Catholic groups toted flags from Poland, France, Britain and Argentina.

“He went all over the world,” said Bishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, who came to Rome for the ceremony. “Today, we’re coming to him.”

Security was tight, with wide areas of Rome even miles (kilometres) from the Vatican off limits to private cars, helicopters flying overhead, police boats in the nearby Tiber River and some 5,000 uniformed troops patrolling police barricades to ensure priests, official delegations and those with coveted VIP passes could get to their places.

Thousands of pilgrims, many of them from John Paul’s native Poland, spent the night in sleeping bags on bridges and in piazzas around town, and then packed St. Peter’s as soon as the barricades opened over an hour in advance because the crowds were too great.

They stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the main boulevard leading to the Vatican, Via della Conciliazione, as well as on side streets around it and the bridges crossing the Tiber leading to St. Peter’s, where Pope Benedict XVI was to celebrate the beatification Mass at 0800 GMT (4 a.m. EDT).

“I’m very proud of John Paul. He was my pope when I was growing up,” said Alice Wirwicka, a 21-year-old from Szczecin, Poland, who travelled 17 hours by bus for the beatification. She was standing on line to get into the square along with friends toting Solidarity banners in honour of the Polish-born pope credited with helping bring down communism.

It’s the fastest beatification on record, coming just six years after John Paul died.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast-track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his April 2, 2005, death. Benedict was responding to chants of “Santo Subito” or “Sainthood Immediately” which erupted during John Paul’s funeral.

On Saturday night, a “Santo Subito” banner was emblazoned on the side of the Circus Maximus field, where an all-night prayer vigil kicked off the beatification celebrations in earnest. The event featured testimony of the French nun whose inexplicable cure from Parkinson’s disease was deemed miraculous by the Vatican, the miracle needed for John Paul to be beatified.

“He died a saint,” Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul’s longtime secretary, told the crowd.

After the vigil officially ended, many pilgrims spent the night moving around the centre visiting eight churches that stayed open all night, a “white night” of prayer in honour of the late pope.

“The weather is mild and so it will not be a problem to pass the night here, and there is also a very nice atmosphere,” said Pauline Rosenfeld, a 20-year-old pilgrim from Paris sitting with friends in her sleeping bag gearing up for a night spent outdoors.

The beatification is taking place despite a steady drumbeat of criticism about the record-fast speed with which John Paul is being honoured, and continued outrage about clerical abuse: Many of the crimes and coverups of priests who raped children occurred on John Paul’s 27-year watch.

“I hope he didn’t know about the pedophiles,” said Sister Maria Luisa Garcia, a Spanish nun attending the vigil. “If he did, it was an error. But no one is perfect, only God.”

At the very least, she said, the church has learned as a result of the scandal, “that a person’s dignity, especially a child’s, is more important than the church’s image.”

Video montages used during the vigil showed various scenes of John Paul’s lengthy pontificate, his teachings about marriage and justice. One of the first shown was of his final Easter, when he was unable to speak from his studio window, too hobbled by Parkinson’s, and only managed a weak blessing of the crowd.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, the French nun cured of Parkinson’s, said that at the time she couldn’t bear to watch John Paul’s condition worsen because she knew his slow decline would be her fate.

“In him, I was reminded of what I was living through,” she told the crowd. “But I always admired his humility, his strength, his courage.”

Wearing her simple white habit and a black cardigan, she recounted to the crowd her now well-known tale: She said that on June 2, 2005, she told her superior she felt she could no longer continue her work helping new mothers because her Parkinson’s symptoms had worsened and she had little strength left.

Her superior, she said, told her that “John Paul II hasn’t had the last word” and that she should pray.

She said she woke up the following morning “feeling something had changed in me.” She said she went to the chapel and prayed. “I wasn’t the same. I knew I had been cured.”

The Vatican’s complicated saint-making procedures require that a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession be confirmed before beatification, the first step to possible sainthood, and a second one for canonization.

The crowd on the Circus Maximus had the feel of a World Youth Day, the event once every three years John Paul launched to energize young Catholics that became a hallmark of his pontificate. Groups of young people danced and sang, many carrying backpacks and sleeping bags in preparation for a night to be spent outdoors.

Rome itself seemed invaded by Poles overjoyed that their native son was being honoured. Special trains, planes and buses shuttled Poles in for the beatification, which was drawing some 16 heads of state and five members of European royal houses.

Anna Fotyga, a former Polish foreign minister and member of Poland’s parliament, arrived on a special train Sunday morning carrying the Polish parliamentary delegation. She reminisced about John Paul’s impact on communist Poland in the late 1970s and 80s.

“I was a student at that time, and actually seeing him, listening to him started transformation in Poland, I am sure,” she said.

In Krakow, where John Paul was archbishop, two TV screens at two different sites were set up to broadcast the beatification ceremony Sunday from Rome. Houses were decorated with Poland’s white-and-red flags and the Vatican’s white-and-yellow colours.

The vigil featured televised hookups from five Marian shrines in Krakow, Mexico, Tanzania, Portugal and Lebanon, where the faithful were also celebrating.

Thousands of Mexicans held a prayer vigil in Mexico City’s Virgen of Guadalupe Basilica on Saturday while two large screens inside the church projected the celebrations in Rome.

Jorge Lopez Barcenas, a 70-year-old painter and body shop worker, travelled from central Hidalgo state to witness the beatification from the Basilica.

“He was a person who elevated the faith,” said Lopez, who saw the pope during two of his five visits to the country.

On Saturday night, dozens of mainly young people gathered at the Basilica to wait overnight for the culmination of John Paul II’s beatification.

Michelle Lopez, 19, said she first saw John Paul II from a distance as a girl during his 1999 visit and he has been an important figure in her life ever since.

“He looked like a small porcelain doll, very nice,” she said. “He is like a saint to us.”

In the Dominican Republic, members of the Santo Domingo youth pastoral prepared for a midnight Saturday vigil to remember John Paul II and watch the beatification ceremony on giant television screen.

Vatican officials have insisted that John Paul deserves beatification despite the fallout from the abuse scandal, saying the saint-making process isn’t a judgment of how he administered the church but rather whether he lived a life of Christian virtue.

But victims’ groups such as the U.S. Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests have said the speedy beatification was just “rubbing more salt in these wounds” of victims.

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Associated Press writers Daniela Petroff and Alba Tobella in Rome, E. Eduardo Castillo in Mexico City and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.