Pope Beatifies John Paul

May 1, 2011
Originally published on May 1, 2011 9:13 pm
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GUY RAZ, Host:

As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports now from Rome, almost a million people from around the world came to witness that event, many of them young Catholics inspired by John Paul.

BENEDICT XVI: (Foreign language spoken)

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: When Pope Benedict pronounced John Paul II beatified, the crowd packing St. Peter's Square began waving flags. And when a massive portrait of John Paul was unveiled on the basilica's facade, the crowd erupted in applause and tears of joy.


POGGIOLI: In his homily, Benedict spoke of the pontiff he served closely for 23 years and what he called his strong and generous apostolic faith. He quoted the words, which perhaps most symbolized John Paul's papacy.

XVI: (Foreign language spoken)

POGGIOLI: Veteran Vatican analyst Marco Politi lists what he says are John Paul's three greatest achievements.

MARCO POLITI: He has transformed the papacy into the spokesman of human rights. He has opened a dialogue between Jews, Muslims and Christians. And third point, a great act of repentment of the Catholic Church for the errors and horrors committed through centuries.

POGGIOLI: Over 27 years as pope, John Paul became a religious beacon not just for Catholics. In the lead-up to the beatification, one visitor here was Christy Cook from Wyoming, a Mormon who said John Paul's message benefited all of mankind.

CHRISTY COOK: And it makes us happy that someone can speak without fear of criticism of Christianity.

POGGIOLI: But Jason Berry, author of a landmark investigation of the church sex abuse crisis, says the many unpunished clerical crimes and cover-ups that occurred on his watch were John Paul's greatest failure.

JASON BERRY: Someone who was so fearless in his confrontation with the communist empire, I for one do not understand how he could not have engaged in the same fearless introspection about the church internal.

POGGIOLI: Berry believes John Paul was unable to see just how severe the crisis was.

BERRY: Because for him, the most important thing was unity. The church had to be unified.

POGGIOLI: Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)


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