Monday, January 30, 2006

Possible Miracle Tied to Pope John Paul II

By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press Writer

ROME - A nun's apparently inexplicable recovery in France from Parkinson's disease, the same affliction suffered by John Paul II, looks very promising as the miracle needed to beatify the late pontiff, a Polish cleric said.
But Vatican officials cautioned Monday that any decision about the healing would take time.

Late last year, John Paul's longtime private secretary told reporters that officials were focusing on the case of the nun in France.

The comments Sunday by another Polish clergyman, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, about Parkinson's were the first public indication of what disease the woman had.

A miracle is required for beatification, the last formal step before a person is considered for sainthood. A second miracle is needed for someone to be declared a saint.

"I don't want to speak yet about a miracle because it is something too important," Oder, the postulator, or official champion for the cause, said on an Italian state radio program.

But the nun, Oder said, "has been cured of an illness, an illness that was so visible even in the last part of John Paul II's life."

His words were a clear reference to Parkinson's disease, a degenerative condition which plagued the Polish pontiff in his last years, making it difficult for him to walk, talk, and in the final weeks, even swallow. There is no cure.

Immediately after the 84-year-old pontiff's death on April 2, faithful started clamoring for quick sainthood for John Paul.

Vatican officials at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declined to comment on the nun's case, but indicated that any ruling on its merits for possible beatification was not imminent because the documentation had not been formally forwarded to them yet by local church officials.

One of the biggest backers of sainthood has been Krakow Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served for decades as John Paul's private secretary at the Vatican and in Poland.

In late November, he told reporters there were multiple candidates for miracles but that church officials had decided to focus on the case in France.

His office in Poland said he had no comment on Oder's remarks.

In another indication that no decision about a miracle was imminent, other Vatican officials who have been closely following the cause for beatification said the dossier on the nun had not yet been examined by the Holy See's official panel of doctors.

The experts must rule out any natural explanation for the recovery before a miracle can be certified.

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