Pope Benedict XVI is poised to move his predecessor John Paul II a step closer to sainthood in the coming days by declaring the late pontiff "venerable," it's being widely reported. The decision would pave the way for the late pope to be beatified at a ceremony planned for next year in Rome. And beatification would leave the late pontiff just one step from canonization, and full sainthood.
A beatification ceremony in the capital, which could attract crowds of up to 1 million people, is being planned for October 16, reports say. The date has been chosen to mark the anniversary of John Paul's election to the papacy on October 16, 1978.
The path to sainthood usually takes decades if not centuries, but Benedict launched the beatification process for John Paul just 2 months after his death in April, 2005. If John Paul is beatified in October next year, he will have gone through the process faster than Mother Teresa, the nun remembered for her work with the poor and sick who was beatified six years after her death.
Two stages must still be completed for John Paul to be beatified. First, his "heroic virtues" must be recognised, which the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints last month agreed to approve. Benedict must now agree with this, and John Paul will then be proclaimed "venerable."
The final stage for beatification is providing evidence of a miracle, usually a medical cure with no scientific explanation which is reviewed by several commissions. In John Paul's case, the miracle is said to have taken place when a French nun was cured of Parkinson's disease in 2005. Benedict will once again have to give the final approval on the miracle.
View the video below for a glimpse of just how ground-breaking the John Paul II papacy really was.