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As Vatican marks anniversary of John Paul II's death, questions about a miracle

March 29, 2010

Pope John Paul II preached the message of the Gospel "without weakness or hesitation, especially when faced with resistance, hostility, and rejection." Pope Benedict XVI paid that tribute to his predecessor during an evening Mass at the Vatican on March 29, marking the 5th anniversary of the late Pontiff's death.

Pope John Paul's life was marked by a determination to "give himself generously, without reservation, without measure, without calculation," Benedict XVI continued. He said that this characteristic was most evident in the late Pope's final days, as he "allowed himself to be consumed for Christ, for the Church for the whole world."

Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005. Because that date falls on Good Friday this year, the anniversary Mass was moved forward. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State; and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime secretary to John Paul II, concelebrated the Eucharistic liturgy.

As the Vatican remembered John Paul II, journalists asked new questions about reports that a miracle attributed to his intercession-- the remarkable recovery of a French nun-- might not be approved by a panel of doctors. Those reports, which circulated earlier this month, indicated that some doctors were unsure that Sister Marie Simon-Pierre was actually cured of Parkinson's disease, and had asked for further evidence. But the former prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said that no premature conclusions should be drawn.

In all probability, said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins (who is no longer directly involved in the beatification process), a doctor who was examining the case asked a colleague for another opinion. "And this, unfortunately, leaked out," the cardinal suggested. "It's absurd to say the doctors haven't approved the miracle," he said, advising journalists to wait for an official announcement.

Officials directly involved in the cause for the beatification of John Paul II have not commented on the published reports. The beatification process is conducted in secret until a final decision is reached.


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