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Pope Benedict: Sainthood for John Paul II

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Pope Benedict XVI said Friday that he’s put the wheels in motion for the recently deceased Pope John Paul II to be anointed a saint, overriding the usual five-year waiting period following the death of a possible candidate.

The pontiff made the announcement in Latin during a meeting at the Basilica of St John Lateran with the Roman clergy, who greeted the Pope’s suggestion with a standing ovation, according to reports from the Vatican. “And now I have a very joyous piece of news for you,” Benedict said in Italian before delivering the announcement.

Ironically, the request came on the anniversary of a 1981 assassination attempt against John Paul, who was targeted by a Turkish gunman in St Peter’s Square. Pope John Paul II died April 2, and it was Pope Benedict himself who made the request, according to a letter he read to the Vatican official in charge of sainthood, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins.

Even with the path paved for sainthood, however, Vatican experts are saying that an intense investigation into John Paul’s life now needs to be launched, to confirm that a miracle could be attributed to him before he is canonized.