Prompted by DocCathode’s questions in posts 86 and 89 of this thread, I would like to post why the canonization process for His Holiness Pope John Paul II was sped up by the Holy Father, His Holiness Benedict XVI.
This is simply an explanation: I am not interested in debating whether this is good, bad, right, or wrong.
For many Catholics, Pope John Paul the Second - called John Paul the Great by many - was not only the only Pope they knew but one who was dramatically different from Popes before him. He traveled around the world - permitting more people than ever access to their Holy Father. He also spoke soundly, solidly, and firmly in defence of traditional Catholic teachings, values, morals, and standards, in face of increasing criticism from those who disagreed - from within and without - with traditional Catholic teachings, values, morals, and standards. And yet he also made sure the reforms of the Second Vatican Council were implemented. He was also seen as a gentle, caring, loving man, who loved everyone in the world. He forgave even his would-be assassin. As such, he is seen as a model of how a Christ-like person (faithful to Catholicism) would be.
Upon his death, Catholics who loved and cherished him for the above reasons felt that there was no doubt that Pope John Paul II was saintly while alive and is a saint in Heaven now. From the perspective of faithful Catholics, the case can certainly be made that he was, undoubtedly, Venerable (that is, that he demonstrated what Catholics have classified as heroic virtues).
During the funeral of Pope John Paul II, many people were seen with signs saying, “Santo Subito” which means “Sainthood Now.” The movement for the swift canonization of Pope John Paul II is widespread amongst Catholics. I might dare say, more widespread than the sentiment that existed when Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta died. This was an expression by the people that they believed Pope John Paul II is a saint, which should be recognized and formalized as soon as possible.
Of course, the Holy Father, being the Supreme Pontiff, has the prerogative to dispense with any part of the canonization process as he sees fit. Nevertheless, he would not make any decision regarding Pope John Paul II’s canonization process lightly.
Let us examine some of what the Holy Father has said (bold-face in any of the following are added):
“After the holy death of my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, the traditional Wednesday General Audiences are resuming today” (audience on April 27, 2005, from the Holy See’s website). He has called Pope John Paul II “Venerable” even before the canonization process started. (One is a Servant of God when the process starts, Venerable when the candidate is found to have heroic virtues, Blessed when miracles are found through the candidate’s intercession, and Saint when more miracles are found through the candidate’s intercession.)
“We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father” (homily as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger at the Funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005, from the Holy See’s website). In saying this, he basically said that Pope John Paul II is in Heaven.
From these two examples (and I am sure there are others), one is able to see that the Holy Father himself believes that Pope John Paul II is in Heaven, and one can also see from the reception of his comments - always received with applause and other expressions of joy - that faithful Catholics agree with him. In response to what he believes and what the people of the Church are expressing (originally saints were declared by vox populi or the voice of the people, so the people’s voice cannot be ignored), the Holy Father decided to dispense with the five-year waiting period. (He could have dispensed with the entire process, but decided to dispense only with the waiting period. The rest, it seems, will go forward as usual.) Even though I am sure many Catholics, including the Holy Father, would like to see him canonized immediately, the Holy Father has decided to permit the process to continue as usual, unless otherwise determined at a future date.
The entire decree dispensing with the five-year waiting period is as follows (from the Holy See’s website):
Again, whether right, wrong, good, or bad, this is what a large number of Catholics believe and want, is consistent with Catholic procedures, beliefs, and theology, and within the Supreme Pontiff’s prerogatives.