Cardinal Wuerl to Celebrate Beatification of the Newly Blessed John Paul II

May 13, 2011

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, was among the millions gathered at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 1, as Pope Benedict XVI presided at the Beatification ceremony of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. This weekend, Cardinal Wuerl will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving here in Washington for Blessed John Paul II.

Sunday, May 15, 2011
5:30 p.m.
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
1725 Rhode Island Avenue, NW Washington

Pope John Paul II was elected Pope on October 16, 1978. He died on April 2, 2005. The Vatican waived the normal five year waiting period after his death to start the Beatification process, and the announcement follows acceptance of a miraculous recovery of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre from Parkinson’s disease.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl has formally established a new seminary for the archdiocese, which will be named Blessed John Paul II Seminary. The seminary will be blessed on October 22, 2011, the feast day of Blessed John Paul II and the anniversary of his installation as pope in 1978. Plans for the seminary were announced in October 2010 and the permits necessary to complete the renovation of the structure that will house the seminary were recently finalized. Seminarians for the archdiocese will begin their formation through the new seminary in August 2011, and renovation of the building is scheduled to be completed in October 2011.

Cardinal Wuerl was priest secretary to Cardinal John Wright in 1978 when the College of Cardinals elected Pope John Paul II as Pontiff. In 1986, Cardinal Wuerl was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pontiff gave Cardinal Wuerl one of his own miters, or tall bishop’s hats, as a gift at the time. Cardinal Wuerl has written a new book about the vision Blessed John Paul II had for the church and for the world. In The Gift of Blessed John Paul II, Cardinal Wuerl explores the spiritual and pastoral wealth of Blessed John Paul’s writings, presenting not only his teachings, but also suggesting how we can apply them in our lives as we face the challenges of being a disciple of Christ in the world today.

With the Beatification, the man who canonized more saints than any other pope in modern history is now one step closer to sainthood himself as he now becomes “Blessed John Paul II.” In official Church procedures there are three steps to sainthood: a candidate becomes “Venerable,” then “Blessed” and then “Saint.” Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the pope as having lived heroic virtues. To be beatified and recognized as a Blessed, one miracle acquired through the candidate’s intercession is required in addition to recognition of heroic virtue or martyrdom. Canonization requires a second miracle after Beatification, though a pope may waive these requirements. Canonization is the formal process by which the Church declares a person to be a saint and worthy of veneration universally.

In reflecting on the Beatification, Cardinal Wuerl said, “As Pope Benedict declares John Paul II blessed, and we all begin to think, ‘What does that mean? What does that mean for me? What does it mean for the church?’ I think our thoughts turn to his legacy. A Pope, that in 26 years, traveled all over the world, met people, encouraged people, proclaimed, ‘Be not afraid. Put your trust in God. Open your hearts to Christ.’ And then he taught. With letters, apostolic exhortations, encyclicals, he taught. He touched on everything we are concerned about in life today. And he brought his wisdom, his spirituality, his pastoral sensitivity to the concerns all of us continue to face. This is a celebration not just of a holy man, but of a teaching legacy that continues to touch you and me today.”

Brie Hall
Office of Communications
[email protected]