Pope Benedict XVI has begun the process for the beatification of his predecessor John Paul II.
The Pope waived the usual rules which require a five-year wait before beatification procedures can begin.
A commission of historians will be appointed to gather information on the former pope's life, teachings and approval of miracles attributed to him.
What is your reaction to the beginning of the process of beatification of John Paul II?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
How exactly did Pope John Paul II touch all those lives and he should be a saint? I am an orthodox, so I should not care about Catholic saints, but I am really curious. Why was he any better than every member of the Catholic Church who devotes his/her life to the same ideals. Also, if the new Pope saintifies the late one, then this will be repeated every time from now on. Canonisation should be taken more seriously, and not as a political weapon for the new popes.
George Loukas, London, UK
I have no issue with the process of beautification. Clearly John Paul II was a good and remarkable man and are we not all blessed? But sainthood is quite another matter. That process should require the full five year wait and be calm and methodical with a negative answer being possible. A negative result on the question of sainthood is not possible this soon after the Pope's death.
Brian Gonsalves, Calgary, Canada
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue, the new pope can hardly be described as unbiased - he was after all one of John Paul's closest friends. Surely it would be in the better interests of the Church - which is said to take the long view, centuries at a time - to allow pause for prayer and reflection, rather than give the appearance of rushing into this.
Alister Katz, Somerset, UK
I think this is just another publicity stunt by the Vatican to stay away from the real and fundamental issues affecting the Catholic Church today. I also fail to see what was so special about this man for him to become a saint.
Kashema Martin, Kingston, Jamaica
It is a step in the right direction for someone who dedicated his life for the betterment of humanity. The late Pope John Paul II was indeed a great man and deserved sainthood in the Church. Many people were inspired and blessed by the pope. I hope the late pope meets the requirement.
Henry S Dolopei, Liberia
I note with pleasure that the current Pope Benedict XVI has moved in that direction. Pope John Paul II touched many lives throughout the world as was evidenced when he came to Malawi in May 1989.
Benson Ng'ambi, Mzuzu, Malawi
Nobody can refute the holiness of Pope John Paul II, many miracles attributed to him happened while he was still alive, why wait or ask for proof now that he has passed away from this world. He is a living saint while still in this world and still a saint now that he's in heaven. Pope John Paul will never ask for a title to be saint, in the hearts of many, he is a true saint, truly a holy man.
Bert, Manila, Philippines
Benedict XVI has exercised his right to make an exception to the time period between death and the opening of a cause for sainthood. He has listened to the wishes of a great many people, myself included. So much for any suggestion that he is not open to the faithful. JPII should also be accorded the appellation of "the Great."
Leo Byron Fowler, New Richmond, KY, USA
My hope is that he will be sainted, whether a miracle is attributed to him or not. He was a great man, who touched many lives. Just look what he has accomplished, not only in his homeland of Poland during the Nazi occupation, and then helping stamp out communism, there will never be another like him. He was loved throughout the world and respected, whether you were a Catholic or not. Bless You John Paul II, you will live in our hearts forever.
Kitty Trommler, Puyallup, WA
Proving that any act of man is a supernatural miracle would be a miracle in itself and therefore impossible. There are no such things as miracles only statistical variation. Today's magic is tomorrow's science.
Antony Lupton, Seattle, USA
The late pope inspired many people in Nigeria and in many parts of the earth; so emotion may not play a major role in making him a saint length of time notwithstanding. Hence miracles are required which God must approve to tell people living on earth that heaven is real. I strongly support the process now
Egeonu Aloysius, Okene, Nigeria
The Catholic Church does not "make" saints, only God does that. The Church merely "declares" persons who are already saints in the eyes of God. Neither does the Catholic Church do things under pressure from the media or anyone else. Relaxing the five-year rule is nothing to do with Tradition or Doctrine, but simply the Pope exercising his authority as the successor of Saint Peter - Pope Benedict and the Vatican civil service (Curia) knew the late Pope personally, up close and saw how he lived from day to day, so are in the best position to judge whether he should be beatified or not. No matter what they do, someone somewhere will always think they know better.
Alan Horgan, Nottingham, England.
It's typical of our modern approach to life that doesn't like to wait for anything. Pope Benedict obviously also is influenced by our media dominated culture in which we live. I do think that Pope JPII was a very holy man, though, most likely well deserving of this honor.
Jan, Roslyn, WA U.S.A.
The simple but rich life John Paul II lived, his strong moral and religious convictions and his unusual ability to reach millions across religious divides are undeniable facts that he will forever be a true source of inspiration to many Catholics and none Catholics all over the world. His beatification is very much in order with many hearts he touched and great courage and hope he gave Christians. Whether done today, five or ten years to come John Paul II is already a saint.
Mwangi Peter Kihara, Boston, USA
Contributors to this list should remember that individuals granted sainthood are "canonized" not "sainted." As for Pope John Paul II, he was a man of great influence and many accomplishments, but it seems a bit soon to consider him for sainthood. The 5-year wait before beginning proceedings for beatification is there for a reason: so emotion doesn't muddy the waters.
Lynne McGrath, Pasadena, CA USA
I truly did not agree with all the teachings of John Paul II but none the less he was a great and pious person. During the term of his papacy he made great inroads to cheapen the concept of sainthood. In my opinion he changed it into an assembly line type of production.
Peter Warren, Ottawa, Canada
John Paul is already a saint. There is no need for his cause to be presented. As far as I am concerned the 2nd April will be his day; Saint Pope John Paul the Great is already with us.
Barrie Jefferson, Spalding, Lincolnshire, UK
I can't help feeling that the only reason this "rushing through" of sainthood for the late John Paul II, is for the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI to gain popularity following the immense standing Pope john Paul II had. Yes, he does deserve a great deal of credit, but not at the expense of rallying support for the new Pope.
Daryl, Nottingham, UK
This is wonderful news from the Vatican following the death of our beloved Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI has made a wise decision, and I welcome the news with great joy with my fellow Catholic brethren from all over the world.
John Wertheim, Cape Town, South Africa
Pope John Paul was a great holy man. His life is a gift, and the values he lived and stood for continues to be relevant and inspiring to us today, regardless of our spiritual orientation. I welcome the announcement and am very pleased.
Dianne, Columbus, Ohio
Even a "lapsed" Catholic such as myself remembers enough to know that the Pope is infallible in all matters of doctrine and faith - guided in his decisions by the Holy Spirit. I'm sure that Pope Benedict XVI made his decision after much prayer and contemplation, and it is his decision to make. As far as John Paul II receiving beatification - even though I did not agree with many of his dicta, he was a good and holy man that possessed great faith and great courage and I'm sure he was received into Heaven; so beatification is a step in the right direction in recognizing this bastion of faith.
Jim Gorta, Franklin Square, NY, USA
In hearts of almost all of us, John Paul II is already a saint. Buy I am very happy that Benedict XVI made this first step to start the process of formal beatification of the greatest Pole.
Ewa, Praha, The Czech Republic
I think it's the right decision. I'm not saying this just because I'm a Pole. John Paul II was, and still is, a great man for many of us. I didn't agree with his words many times, but He has a special place in my heart.
Michal Chudzinski, Tarnowo Podgorne, Poland
For the last 26 years, I have witnessed a gradual transformation of a rather minor Polish cleric into one of the greatest ten popes since St Peter. His sincere messages of hope, his ability to inspire courage in the face of fearful communism, and his personal charisma have inspired Christians and non-Christians alike. If one were to tell me four decades ago that three Protestant US presidents would have attended his funeral, I would have retorted, "until hell freezes over."
John Parrillo, Webster, MA, USA
The need for a miracle performed after death is to show that the person is in heaven, and not hell! So rather than a "Catholic version of the MBE", it's more like a hall of fame: saints are people who kept the faith and made it to heaven, setting an example for us all to follow.
Paul, Edinburgh, Scotland
This is a good move for the Church. While the waiving of the five year rule does smack of public relations, every religious institution (not to mention any political figure) praises the accomplishments of those great figures who have come before them in hopes of retaining faithful followers during a changing of power. Besides, few figures even qualify for a discussion of sainthood.
Mike I. McClelland, Brooklyn, NY
It seems terribly soon for the beatification of John Paul II. The Vatican is no stranger to media manipulation. However, we must remember that there is nothing democratic about how the Roman Catholic Church operates, so public opinion is essentially useless. I worry only that quick, emotional actions like this will cheapen the whole idea of blessedness or sainthood. Very few (if any) persons seem to be beatified without eventually becoming sainted. If only the Pope concerned himself with such a caring Christian attitude toward all people within and without the Church.
Paul Marchesano, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
I think that it is absolutely brilliant news that this process has started. In many hearts he is already a saint and is an inspiration to all generations.
The 50 year (now five year) cooling off period was to remove the emotion of the involved from the decision process. Those involved in the person's life shouldn't be in the decision process as their objectivity is questionable.
Jim O'Connor, Pensacola, Florida, USA
In the early Church the call to sainthood was made by the people. Those chanting "Santo subitus" in St Peters Square were only following what the earliest Catholics did. Maybe we are seeing a return to our roots with this beatification?
Paddy, Liverpool, UK
How quickly Pope Benedict swoons under the weight of his Catholic audience and followers! This seems like a show or a rock concert with an encore cheer from the bereaved forever following JP II. Since when do we accredit sainthood to popular demand quelled by an over emotional crowd of people so ignorant they will believe a miracle took place if they read it in a newspaper? I say if he really is a saint, look for his face in dried road salt on a slab of concrete. That's what passes for miracle and mystery these days, right?
Zane Zimbelman, Hamburg, Germany
The Catholic Faith itself is conservative and for so many to say that both John PII and Benedict the 16th are radicals is ridiculous at best. How many people consider a fraternity to join and then after admission say that so many things need to be changed. The Catholic Church is one of the very few faiths that has lived by its beliefs and traditions and not changed with the wind/times. Thank God for JPII and Benedict the 16th!
Ted Kowal, Omaha, USA
As a non-Catholic, I think Pope John Paul II was a deeply spiritual man who walked the walk of his faith. I am pleased to see him honoured in this way. Apart from Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II is among the Catholic Church's most positive ambassadors to believers and non-believers alike.
Mitch Mulhall, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, USA
In early years of the Church people who are clearly "living saints" like John Paul II were canonized immediately upon their death. A fast track to sainthood is the least that can be done for one of the greatest men of our time, John Paul II.
Patrick Kinsella, Edmonton, Canada
I am not a Catholic but I have enormous respect for the late man, JP II. I have no problem with starting the beatification process now but my concern is the determination of the two miracles occurring after the JP II's death. This process should be very transparent so that the late man continues to rest in peace.
Henry Tee, Freetown, Sierra Leone
I am not generally in favour of quick beatifications, let alone canonisations. The traditional process of veneration, beatification and canonisation did not normally begin until 50 years after death, so five years is already a major reduction. However, it has always been the prerogative of the Pope to shorten this time: it is not like any rules are being broken or changed. The process is governed by Canon Law, and this permits the Pope to declare a cause open before the usual time. The requirements for miracles, of course, cannot be waived.
John Hudson, Vancouver, Canada
There is a big difference between a doctrine of the faith and a 'rule of practice' like the five year rule. The former are indeed immutable but the latter are not. The popes know this difference but today's secular media and many people expressing criticism of the waiver apparently do not.
Tracy, Indiana, USA
I think that John Paul II is already a saint for the amazing things he has accomplished in his life, and should not be required to prove a miracle.
Pope John Paul II, is already a saint the in the hearts and minds of many Catholics worldwide. The beatification followed by the canonization is just a formality that ought to be completed for the record.
Carlton, Boston, USA
I find it strange that these two Popes, with their strong orthodox opinions, are so quick to refute this 'five year rule'. Should the public take this as indication that the orthodox teachings and traditions of the Church are, in fact mutable?
Dave Andrews, Leicester, UK
I think it is a step in the right direction. Pope John Paul II touched many lives throughout the world as was evidenced by his funeral. My hope and prayer is that the process of beatification should succeed as soon as practicable.
Loice Ann Phoya, Blantyre, Malawi
It does seem exceptionally quick to begin this process, so soon after John Paul II's death (as your article states the usual 5-year guideline "cooling-off" period does generally remove a large part of the immediate emotional input.) However, John Paul II was a hugely pious, and deeply spiritual man, who deserves all the recognition due process can afford him. The beatification process usually takes well in excess of five years, in any case.
John Macdonald, Reading, UK
The fact that they are suppose to follow the five year law; and have broken it, just shows how self-selective and how it contradicts their religion. It seems that Pope Benedict XVI has just done this to make himself popular, because he knows that the people that care about related issues all love the late John 'Paul.
Matt Davies, UK
Praise the Lord! I am so excited and pleased that Pope Benedict has waived the five year waiting period. As a young Catholic (23), I have been inspired and challenged by Pope John Paul II to live a holy life focused on Christ and embracing all the beautiful truths of the faith that he worked so hard to defend. JPII was the only voice challenging young people in today's world of materialism, sexism, and self-gratification to stand up and live a courageous life of virtue, holiness, and immense joy and freedom that comes with being a child of God. I am very happy! JP II, we love you!
Nicole, Iowa, United States of America
It isn't particularly surprising. But then sainthood has been somewhat devalued of late, as John Paul II sainted more people than all of the Popes in the last 500 years combined. It's become a bit like a Catholic version of the MBE really.
James Hall, Hants, UK
As far as he helped to bring about the end of communism in Europe and in his efforts to promote peace and understanding with other faiths - on that basis alone he is worthy of sainthood.
Kevin Humphreys, Newcastle, Australia
I feel it is wonderful that the process of beatification has been started for John Paul II.
Leslie Gautieri, Warwick, RI USA
The only 'miracle' belongs to that of medical science who kept the man alive for so long.
I'm concerned that the Vatican's undue haste toward beatification of John Paul II is prompted more by media interest and public opinion than judicious assessment of the candidacy. The announcement by the newly installed Pope Benedict XVI that he had waived the normal 5-year "waiting period" also coincided with the anniversary of the attempted assassination of his predecessor. The timing smacks somewhat of stage management of a cause, which the Vatican hierarchy sees as boosting its popular image, and also diverts attention away from the immediate and difficult challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church.
Frank van Laar, Sydney, Australia
Although I do not agree with all of the late Pope's views, he was a great man and, in my opinion, is fully deserved of sainthood. In the modern world, with all our scientific and medical knowledge, it is virtually impossible to prove any 'miracle', and proving two beyond any reasonable doubt for John Paul II is surely a bit much to ask. Is not being a great leader of the Catholic Church and an inspiration to so many enough?
Mark Harrison, Peterborough, England
I think it is too early to start the process now. The whole process may be undermined because so soon after his death people are still emotional about the late pope. As a Catholic, I also think the whole practice of "sainting" people must be revisited.
Mandlenkosi Mpofu, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe