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JPII-LEGACY Nov-5-2009 (680 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope John Paul's legacy continues to touch people, cardinal says

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, speaks during the presentation of a new book on Pope John Paul II at St. Stanislaus Church in Rome Nov. 4. At left is Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator for Pope John Paul's sainthood cause. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II lives on "because he has remained in people's hearts," said Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

"The light of his teaching and example was not extinguished with his death," the cardinal said during a conference to present a new book on the late pope's legacy.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of Pope John Paul's sainthood cause, also spoke at the conference Nov. 4 at the parish of Rome's Polish community.

Asked about a date for the beatification of the pope, who died in 2005, Msgr. Oder said the Congregation for Saints' Causes is studying the case and he could not guess when they will finish.

"I can tell you that we are following all of the procedures foreseen for these cases. Everything is moving at a natural rhythm. I understand many people want this to happen sooner, but as Pope Benedict told us: 'Do it quickly, but do it well.' And this is what we are doing," Msgr. Oder said.

Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno, told reporters in late October that he expects the beatification to take place in Rome in 2010, and he said the city government would work with the Vatican to facilitate the visit of a massive group of people expected to come for the ceremony.

Asked if Alemanno knew something concrete, Msgr. Oder said, "I think he was expressing the desire we all have in our hearts."

"It's difficult to make any prediction at this point, but one can always express a desire. Obviously the desire is that the beatification would take place soon. If this desire is accompanied by prayer, perhaps it will be fulfilled," Msgr. Oder said.

The conference marked the launch of a new book about Pope John Paul's lasting impact on the church and the world. Written by Gian Franco Svidercoschi, the book is titled "Un Papa che non Muore: L'Eredita di Giovanni Paolo II" (literally, "A Pope who Does Not Die: The Legacy of John Paul II") and is available in Italian and in Polish.

Cardinal Re, who served Pope John Paul in the Vatican Secretariat of State and then at the Congregation for Bishops, called the late pope "a great man, a great pope and a great saint."

He said the two hallmarks of the late pope's ministry were "faithfulness to the Gospel and faithfulness to the Second Vatican Council."

While Pope John Paul "influenced the course of historic events," he did so not as a politician or a diplomat, but as a man of faith and deep prayer who worked tirelessly to "let God into this world."

For example, he said, the Polish-born pope's opposition to communism was not based on politics, but on the fact that the ideology denied people's religious freedom and even resorted to violence to keep any mention of God out of public life.

"He is a pope who does not die because his faith, his prayer life and his courage in the face of suffering continue to speak to the heart of every man and woman," Cardinal Re said.

Msgr. Oder said Pope John Paul was a living example of the Second Vatican Council's teaching that God calls everyone to holiness.

"His whole life was lived as an act of gratitude to Christ, from whom he received everything," the monsignor said.

Part of Msgr. Oder's work for Pope John Paul's sainthood cause involved interviewing hundreds of people who had known him.

"There was one statement repeated almost as if it were a refrain: 'He looked at me in a special way,'" the monsignor said.

The witnesses repeatedly said the way the pope looked at them made them feel loved and appreciated, but also made them feel like they could be better and they could do more, he said.

"He was a mystic who was able to live in the presence of God and to perceive God's presence in the world and in the people he met," Msgr. Oder said.


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