Therfore, I think that instead of opening a new thread every time there is news about him, it might be more practical to
have a single news thread about him.
Herewith my first contribution. From Avvenire (the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops' Conference), this report in
More than 6 months after his death, the homage of the faithful continues without pause to John Paul II, who was elected Pope 27 years ago on October 16, 1878
By Roma Mimma Muolo
For the past 6 months, the queue forms every day at St. Peter's Square - men and women, old people and children, and of course, many young people, Papa Wojtyla's youth.
From his office nearby, Monsignor Angelo Comastri sees them when they emerge from the Vatican grottoes (where the Pope's tombs are located) usually "with eyes red from emotion."
Doubtless, he says, "this has become an authentic pilgrimage site for a man who is already a saint as far as the public is concerned." Comastri was named in February by John Paul II himself to be a vicar at the Vatican as well as president of the Fabbrica di San Pietro.
The daily pilgrimages are impressive: "The visitors average about 18,000-20,000 a day," Comastri says. "A similar influx, as constant and as numerous, has never been seen before for any Pope."
Asked why, Comastri replies: "Because models are always fascinating. In a world scene that was dominated by shadows, the figure of Pope John Paul II stood out in all its luminosity - great humanity, profound spirituality, abosulte loyalty to the Gospel. His life continues to speak to the faithful even today."
Comastri recounts some scenes at the tomb that he was witnessed himself. First, the Vatican has made room for pilgrims who want to remain in prayer near the tomb. But many have had more specific requests.
"Three families from a village near Pavia brought with them the photograph of a boy stricken with leukemia and asked to leave the photo on the marble tomb. Of course, we allowed them to," Comastri says. "The same way that we allowed a
man who came to pray for his wife, gravely ill with a tumor,
and who wished to kneel right next to the tomb."
These are episodes which show that the shouts of "Santo subito" (Make him a saint soon) raised in St. Peter's the day of his funeral were not merely aroused by the emotions of the moment, Comastri says.
"People are convinced that John Paul II is already a saint and that therefore he can intercede for them to God," he adds.
He also cites the notes left behind by the pilgrims. "We have collected more than 10,000 so far, and we turn this over to the office in charge of his beatification. Eventually, I hope they may be published."
The daily lives of individuals emerges from reading these notes, Comastri says, and surprisingly, many of the notes pray for the grace of conversion. A mother wrote, "My sons have gone far from God. You who have brought back many youths to the faith, please see to it that my sons undergo the same conversion." Another mother wrote: "My daughter's family is breaking up. You who loved families so much, please do something to make this family whole again." A boy named Mirko wrote candidly: "Bombs are falling from the sky, and I know you can stop them."
But the endless affection for John Paul II has consequences even in trivial events. Comastri recalls, "A few days ago, two girls who had lost a cell phone asked if they could be allowed to retrace their steps inside St. Peter's after visiting hours were over. I accompanied them, but as we were passing in front of the Pope's tomb, they paused, and then in the absolute silence of the grotto, they both burst into tears, obviously overcome by great emotion. We then prayed together. It was a very beautiful, very intense moment.
Afterwards they told me - 'We did not find the telephone but we are going away with something that is so much more precious.'"
In the face of this continuing pilgrimage, Mons. Comastri speaks of "a religious and pentecostal wave which continues in the papacy of Benedict XVI, who is John Paul's first devotee."
"This month alone," he adds, we had 50,000 or more attending the general audience for two weeks in a row. This has never happened before."
He concludes: "In a certain sense, what has happened in the past several months helps us to deepen our knowledge of Pope John Paul and appreciate even more the last few months of his life. Some considered it a period of decline, whereas most of the faithful now see it as the revelation of a life totally built on the rock of faith."