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JOHNPAUL-MIRACLE Jan-31-2006 (600 words) xxxi

Postulator says French nun's cure could be miracle for Pope John Paul

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- The Polish priest charged with shepherding Pope John Paul II's sainthood cause said he believes the healing of a French nun suffering from Parkinson's disease could be the miracle needed for the pope's beatification.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of the cause, announced on Italian radio in late January that he had chosen the case of the French nun from among the many apparently miraculous healings people from around the world had reported to him.

He told Catholic News Service Jan. 31 that the case involved a French religious who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's when she was "very young; it was a precocious onset."

Pope John Paul had suffered from Parkinson's, a progressive disease that attacks the nervous system.

Msgr. Oder had refused to talk about the French nun's case in late November when Pope John Paul's former personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, told reporters her healing would be submitted to Vatican investigators.

Newspapers had reported at the time that the French nun was suffering from cancer, but Msgr. Oder said it was Parkinson's.

The postulator told CNS he had felt it was important not to talk about the case until several doctors had reviewed the nun's case history and confirmed that there likely was no natural or medical explanation for her healing.

While Pope Benedict XVI set aside the normal five-year waiting period before Pope John Paul's cause could be opened, Msgr. Oder said there is still much work to do. People who knew the pope are being interviewed, a thorough biography is being prepared and all his writings are being collected for study by a panel of theologians.

Before Pope Benedict can proclaim that Pope John Paul heroically lived a life of Christian virtue, Msgr. Oder must compile all the information collected in a "positio," a document of multiple volumes explaining who the candidate was and how he or she lived and acted.

A separate report is prepared on the miracle, Msgr. Oder said.

"The procedure for the verification of the miracle is a process that can parallel the verification of heroic virtues," he said, so the miracle can be submitted even before the "positio" is.

Nevertheless, he said, he does not expect the process to be completed soon.

While a Vatican panel of historians and theologians will review the "positio," another panel of Vatican theologians and a panel of Vatican-appointed physicians will review the nun's medical records.

In Poland, the head of a Polish tribunal gathering evidence for the cause criticized media speculation about witnesses after press reports that the country's former communist strongman, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, had been asked to give evidence.

"It's natural and right that people should be interested in our work," said Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, head of the Krakow Theological Academy as well as the tribunal. "But the witnesses are covered by secrecy rules -- those called should be discreet about the questions they're asked and how they answered."

The bishop said witnesses were summoned according to their knowledge of "important moments" in Pope John Paul's life.

"The tribunal can't be expected to consider how a particular summons will be publicly interpreted, nor does it see such invitations in terms of rewards and punishments," he said.

Jaruzelski, who was educated at a Marian order school and was raised a Catholic, became notorious for supervising the arrest and internment of around 10,000 opponents of communist rule after crushing the Solidarity labor movement with martial law in December 1981.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Jonathan Luxmoore in Warsaw, Poland.


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