A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Posts Tagged ‘“Congregation for the Causes of Saints”’

Delay for JPII?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

giansanti of JPII
The blog Clerical Whispers reports: “The beatification of Pope John Paul II may be delayed as the Vatican seeks more documentation regarding his almost 27 years as pope, Italian newspapers reported in late May.”

Shipping June 16

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

With the paperback version of My Cousin the Saint printed and being shipped to stores, I’m happy to provide this link on Amazon to where you can order your very own copy! Orders will ship in mid June. I would love to hear your thoughts on the new cover design and subtitle (posted below). Tell your friends!

Mixed message

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI says he’s praying for the beatification of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. But Monsignor Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, says the next to last step before canonization for JPII is not imminent.

Wondering: doesn’t the former have a bit influence over the latter? Full story here.

Miracles, doctors and the Consulta medica

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today: “Raymond Martin Joson, 81, of Haverford, a pioneering neurosurgeon who consulted with the Roman Catholic Church about medical miracles, died of heart failure Thursday at his Haverford home.” The full obit is here.

What, you may ask, was an esteemed Philly doctor doing getting involved in determining miracles for the Vatican? Well, it’s all part of the process, which I go into detail about in my book. Miracles, I learned, are almost always medically oriented — a healing of some sort. Before the priests in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints determine whether a venerable has been an intercessor for a healing miracle from heaven, doctors take a hard look at the medical records. In this regard, the Vatican has a consulting group of several dozen doctors who make up what’s called, in Italian, the Consulta Medica. The job of the doctors is not to declare a miracle. Rather, they study the medical history and records of a “healed” person to see if there is any medical explanation for the purported cure. If there is, the alleged miracle is tossed. But if a panel of five reviewing doctors agree by at least a 3-2 vote that the cure is “medically inexplicable,” then the case history goes to the priests to determine who was prayed to and if those prayers were answered with a miracle.

Beatification buzz

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

In the news: “According to the Italian daily La Stampa, John Paul II will be beatified on April 2, 2010 — the fifth anniversary of his death. Reporter Giacomo Galeazzi reports that thanks to an acceleration in the beatification process, documents pertaining to John Paul’s cause, called the “positio,” have already been forwarded by a commission of theologians to be examined by cardinals.“This is very good news,” says Msgr. Tadeusz Pieronek, the Polish priest who has been responsible for the diocesan phase of the beatification process in Krakow, La Stampa reported.” The whole story is here.

John Paul’s friend, and a vivid memory

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Vatican news today:”Pope Benedict XVI has agreed to speed up the beatification process of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, who was murdered by communist secret services in 1984.”

This cause holds particular interest to me. Father Popieluszko, a close friend of Pope John Paul II from Poland, was murdered while Laurelyn and I were on our honeymoon in Western Europe in the fall of Pope John Paul II1984. We followed the grim news in the International Herald Tribune. Weeks later, while in Rome and at the Vatican, we witnessed one of the most extraordinarily powerful scenes of our lives. This scene appears in my book, but I wrote about it first in a column in my newspaper the week JPII died in April 2005. The column follows:

Setting business aside to remember the pope

At some level, the talk of the Triad this week is similar to the talk around the world. The life and legacy of Pope John Paul II was so far-reaching that it had an impact on people everywhere, whether or not they are Catholic.

It’s with that in mind that I momentarily set aside Triad business to share an experience I had during the early part of the pope’s 26-year reign as the church’s 264th pontiff.

It was November 1984, and my wife and I were in Rome on our honeymoon. Bus No. 64 carried us across town, across the Tiber to Vatican City and a Wednesday morning audience with the pope.

We dashed through St. Peter’s Square, through Bernini’s colonnade and into the modern auditorium near the basilica.

After being searched for weapons by Swiss guards — the pope had been shot in the square just three years earlier — we took our seats near the front. Some 8,000 people filled the space. When Pope John Paul II made his entrance, resplendent in his white robes and cape, a kind of electricity swept through the hall.

Like teenagers at a pop concert, the scores of Spanish nuns in front of us went wild. I had never experienced someone able to exude charisma with merely a nod or wave. But you could feel it. And that was just the beginning.

A master communicator, the pope delivered his set address that morning in eight languages. He saved Polish for last. A large group of Poles were seated together several rows behind us, and the pope had spotted them.

His address had been on the sanctity of marriage, and he offered a special blessing for newlyweds like ourselves. But now the pope was departing from his text. He looked directly out at his people, the Poles, as his voice grew more intense, his gestures more animated. We had been following the news; we knew why.

Just a month earlier in Poland, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a parish priest and a dear friend of the pope’s, had been kidnapped and murdered by Polish police and dumped in a river. The priest had been silenced for his support of the outlawed union Solidarity and his opposition to Communist rule.

The pope reflected on that tragedy as he spoke — his low, steady voice charged with emotion. I knew John Paul had suffered as a young man under Nazism; what must he be thinking, I wondered. As a young, naïve American spoiled by our freedoms at home, I knew nothing about actual political oppression.

But now, in the voice and presence of this pope, I could easily imagine its suffocating nature as his uncompromising stand against such inhumanity filled the room.

My wife and I were startled witnesses to this suddenly intense moment, but the Poles in the crowd were grateful recipients. When the pope stopped speaking, dozens of them rose in unison. They unfurled a Solidarity banner, stretched it wide and held it aloft. Others held up crucifixes or simply their hands flashing a V-for-victory sign.

At that time, those simple actions would have landed them in jail, or worse, back home. Now they were defiant, emboldened. All eyes in the auditorium were transfixed on this group as they spontaneously began to sing a gorgeous, hymn-like song in Polish.

Their voices rang out, but not in celebration. Their faces were masks of solemn determination. As they sang, I turned to see John Paul drop his head into his right hand, which was propped up on the arm of his high-backed chair.

With that simple gesture, he was telling them: your pain is my pain, your struggle is my struggle. There was no mistaking that.

I looked at my wife as tears streamed down her face. She was not alone in that regard. We knew we were witnessing something extraordinary, glorious even — the will and spirit of one man giving courage to an entire people. From our place in the auditorium between the pope and the Poles, that power seemed to pass right through us like lightening.

As we were leaving, I met a young Polish man and asked him about the song. He explained that it was the equivalent of “We Shall Overcome,” a plea to God asking him to restore freedom to Poland.

In 1984, years before the end of the Soviet Union or the toppling of the Berlin Wall, such a plea could not be taken for granted. Few people would’ve dared envision Eastern Europe and much of Asia unleashed from the grip of such totalitarianism. Yet one man did.

Since his death on April 2, commentators have emphasized the political role Pope John Paul II played in contributing to the fall of communism. But what we saw that long-ago morning transcended politics and revealed perhaps the pope’s greatest influence.

What we saw was nothing less than John Paul’s spiritual force on those who would actually bring about the collapse.


Cloud 9

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

 St. Peters
The Vatican reports that nine Catholic heroes are closer to sainthood as the result of recent declarations by Pope Benedict XVI. The story is here. This is interesting insofar as Benedict was seen by many upon becoming pope in 2005 as dramatically slowing down the number of saints and blesseds named. This does not appear to be the case; at the very least, he seems to be looking favorably among those in the long pipeline filled by his predecessor (and prodigious saint maker) Pope John Paul II.

Now the big question is: when will JPII make the list? A miracle has been credited to him, which would clear the way for beatification, but it has not yet been approved. What’s the status?

Photo by Len Catanoso Jr. during the canonization of Padre Gaetano Catanoso

Who decides if it’s a miracle?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

PARIS (AP) — An international doctors’ panel appointed by the Roman Catholic Church says it’s getting out of the “miracle” business at Lourdes. The panel will no longer judge whether pilgrims to the French shrine could have benefited from “miracle” healing — a huge shift from the centuries-old way of deciding what makes the cut as a divine cure.

Full story here.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as I discuss in my book, still makes use of a panel of independent and well-regarded doctors from Rome who review the medical records of individuals purported to have been healed miraculously. These doctors do not determine whether a miracle has occurred, rather they decide (by a majority vote on a panel of five) whether a cure is “medically inexplicable.” If the doctors decide that, a panel of clergy researches who was prayed to and then make a judgment about whether a miracle had taken place.

Why saints

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

The Vatican’s leader of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Bishop Angelo Amato, shares his thoughts on the meaning and importance of saints in this letter.

An excerpt: “The Saints themselves are these ‘seeds of newness,’ people who have fully realized the greatest projects, to live the perfection of love. The Saints are, therefore, precisely the ones who can enlighten the minds of the men and women of our age, who ran reignite in them the faith, who can sustain in them the prospective of the good, who can propose to them generous impulses which can overcome the paralysis of mediocrity, who can help them renew their interpersonal relationships in truth and justice, in such a way that no-one is left marginalised or overcome by despair and distress.”

Getting ready in Hawaii

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Honolulu Star-Bulletin: “The date has not been set yet for the canonization of Father Damien DeVeuster, but Hawaii Catholics are making plans for festivities here and in Rome. Pope Benedict XVI is expected to declare the priest a saint no sooner than next fall, a date that will not be set until a February meeting of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican.” Full story here.