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The Beautification of John Paul II

Aired May 1, 2011 - 04:00   ET


JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: John Paul II was a pilgrim Pope, visiting more than 100 countries; a political Pope, standing firm against communism; a personal Pope, who touched millions with his magnetism.

And now the church declares him a blessed Pope, one step from sainthood.

Live from the Vatican and CNN Center, the Beatification of John Paul II.

John Paul II was one of the extraordinary men of our era, a commanding voice for Catholicism, a voice of conscious and a magnetic figure who drew millions every time he traveled.

He has drawn millions to Rome today to see him move one step closer to sainthood.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Jonathan Mann. The crowds in Rome and the Catholic faithful around the world are marking this day. In the minutes ahead, the beatification mass of Carawatiwa (ph) of John Paul II.

He reigned as Pope from 1978 until his death at age 84 in 2005. In the years since, he has been declared a servant of God by the church, and then proclaimed venerable. He is soon to be beatified and recognized as blessed in a mass led by a man who knew him well and succeeded him as Pope, Benedict XVI.

The next step, already being spoken of and studied, would be sainthood.

Does that mean that he withstands all criticism, that his guidance of the church was without fault? Officially, the Vatican insists that beatifying and then canonizing a Pope are not the same thing as endorsing every decision of his pontificate.

Instead it means that, everything. despite whatever else that can be said about him and his leadership of the church, Pope John Paul II was nevertheless a holy man.

Today, he will be officially recognized as blessed. We are watching live pictures from the Vatican.

Joining us CNN international correspondent Jim Bittermann and Vatican Analyst -- our senior Vatican analyst John Allen. Gentlemen, good to have you with us. A remarkable day. Jim Bittermann, what are we going to see?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we're going to see a lengthy mass, quite an exciting mass for the people that are here. We're yet to have a really good pick on the size of this crowd, something over a million, certainly more than they expected.

Part of that might be due to the good weather. Part of it might be to the fact that this Pope that's being beatified is , an extremely popular as far as the church is concerned.

Right now, we're just looking up to the beginning of the mass. There is going to be a small musical interlude here at the beginning with a couple of prayers. But then they're going to go straight into the rite of beatification.

I think that's the moment, of course, that most people will be waiting for. And that takes place before the actual real working part of the mass begins. So we'll see that I would say within the next 15 to 20 minutes.

If I could just toss it over to John Allen here. John, you know, we talked about this earlier. What do you think breaks people out for an event like this? Why do you think so many people have turned out today?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, I think part of it is the Office of Papacy. The Pope, whoever it is, is a big deal to the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world.

Making saints is always a big deal. The devotion to saints is a huge tradition in Catholicism.

On top of all that, obviously, is the old John Paul magic. We're talking about a figure who had a special ability to connect with people. You remember those more than 100 trips he took around the world. And you would get millions and millions who would turn out to see him.

Certainly his big public event here in Rome were always magnets for humanity. And I think that special, unique, personal sort of charisma, that status he had as a rock star in the popular imagination -- that's on display here again today.

BITTERMANN: Do you get the feeling that Catholics perhaps have been longing for a little of that return, in the sense that Benedict XVI doesn't really command the kind of media presence that John Pope did.

ALLEN: Yes, that's right. Benedict XVI is more of a kind of cerebral figure, who -- you people loved his text, but he's not quite the road warrior that John Paul was.

And on top of that, Jim, we're obviously also talking about a church that has been badly demoralized during recent years because of the sexual abuse crisis and other difficulties. I think this is an opportunity for Catholics to feel good about themselves.

BITTERMANN: Take a look here at some of the pictures of Benedict XVI going through the crowd.

ALLEN: That's right. This is the opening procession of mass. And what will happen is that as he makes his way through the crowd --

MANN: You're watching live coverage from the Vatican as the beatification mass of Pope John Paul II gets under way with the procession of the College of Cardinals and, of course, there Pope Benedict XVI.

The mass celebrates his predecessor, John Paul II, but draws our attention inevitably to this Pope, as well. He is 84 years old, six years into his Pontificate.

I think it's fair to say that in his six years on the throne of St. Peter, he has never seen a crowd like this, a crowd that has come to show its devotion to John Paul II.

For his part, Benedict XVI is a very different kind of figure. And that has been obvious really over the last six years. He was a theological, a professor, white hair, soft spoken, a very, very different leader for the church.

As we watch this, it will be interesting to watch him. His own private secretary calls him, interestingly enough, a Pope of the Word. John Paul II was the Pope of great images. That's the contrast drawn by Benedict's own personal secretary.

Benedict XVI is "the Pope of the word of the force of words, a theologian more than a man of gestures."

But today, an enormous gesture on behalf of his predecessor, the man who brought him to Rome to serve there, the man who inducted him into the College of Cardinals, the man who paved the way for his election of Pope, Benedict XVI.

-- our senior Vatican analyst John Allen are with us today. John, we are going to see an extraordinary thing, but the pictures already speak volumes. The volume speaks volumes. This is an enormous celebration of John Paul's memory, isn't it?

BITTERMANN: Yes, that's right, John. I mean, this is -- on one level, this is a holy rite. It's the declaration of a new blessed, a new saint for the Catholic church.

But at another level, you can think of this almost like a high school pep rally on steroids. This is a massive celebration of a figure who, of course, in addition to being the Pope of the Catholic church, was also a beloved holy man all around the world. And what you've been seeing today is one of those massive rivers of humanity that John Paul always used to generate. We're expecting more than a million people. In addition, there are something like five or six royal families represented here today, 16 heads of state, official delegations.

This is -- John, this is going to be a remarkable day in a city, of course, that has seen quite a few remarkable days over the years.

MANN: John, I want you to help us with something very basic. Millions of people are watching this around the world. Of course, many of them are Catholics, but many of them are not.

So what is Pope Benedict XVI about to proclaim about John Paul II. Are Catholics now to pray to John Paul II? Does he become a figure of worship?

ALLEN: Well, according to official Catholic theology, Catholics don't worship saints. They venerate them. Worship is for God alone. The idea is that saints are like friends in heaven. They are people who are in heaven with God.

And under the idea of the communion of saints, they're people you can talk to in prayer, and take your worries, your problems to them, and ask them to intercede on your behalf with God.

So, in effect, what Pope Benedict XVI is saying to the Catholic world today is you've got a new friend in heaven.

Now, of course, John Paul II isn't exactly a new friend for most Catholics. He's more like an old friend that they loved over the years. And this is an opportunity to get together and connect him one more time.

MANN: As we watch this, we watch, as well, in a sense, the next step in a remarkable relationship, a remarkable friendship between these two men. Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope in memory to beatify his immediate predecessor. In fact, many of the most senior clerics who were involved in this process knew John Paul II personally.

And I'm wondering, Jim Bittermann, as you watch all of this unfold, how personal is this?

BITTERMANN: Well, the two men worked together for something like 27 years in the Vatican. And Pope John Paul personally called Cardinal Ratzinger to the Vatican to head up one of the more important congregations in the Vatican. And then later promoted him to another.

So the fact is that the two of them worked together quite closely. And maybe if John could comment on this a little more exactly, but there were many things that John Paul II did in the final days of his Papacy, final years of his Papacy to establish sort of a smooth transition to Cardinal Ratzinger.

He made him the spokesman, for example, during the funeral. And that did held Cardinal Ratzinger achieve what he has achieved, becoming the Pope, the next Pope. ALLEN: Sure. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the dean of the College of Cardinals, which means -- the College of Cardinals is, if you like, the electoral college of the Catholic church, that picks the next Pope, which meant that when the cardinals gathered for those meetings in Rome leading up to the conclave, he was the one providing.

It also meant that when John Paul's funeral mass was celebrated -- you, of course, remember that massive public event here in Rome. Some estimates more than five million people were on hand. It was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who led that mass, who delivered the homely in honor of the late Pope.

And there is no doubt that his performance during that period, which was widely acclaimed by a lot of people, generated momentum. But when the conclave opened on April 19th, it seemed to a lot of cardinals they had a clear front-runner in Joseph Ratzinger.

BITTERMANN: Would you say, do you think, that John Paul wanted Ratzinger to be his successor? Was that something that you think -- he probably never expressed himself that way. I'm sure that the cardinals don't even express their feelings going into the conclave. So I'm sure he didn't. But was there a sense that perhaps by giving Cardinal Ratzinger these important posts that that was the way John Paul wanted the church to go?

ALLEN: You know, Jim, the election of a Pope isn't the Iowa caucuses. So there aren't declared candidates and so on. I think John Paul II was a deep man of faith. I think he believed that the holy spirit would make sure that the church would end up with the right guy.

But if you're asking was he disappointed that Joseph Ratzinger would be elected? Obviously the answer to that is no. Joseph Ratzinger, as you just said accurately, was in many ways the intellectual architect of John Paul's Papacy, one of his closest collaborators for more than two decades.

There is no doubt that John Paul II would have seen Benedict XVI as a logical figure to carry forward his legacy for the church.

BITTERMANN: I just wonder, John, if you have seen in the six years since in the Papacy of Benedict XVI -- have you been surprised at all? Or do you think, given what we knew at the funeral mass about Ratzinger and his character, about the new Pope, Benedict XVI -- has this pretty much unfolded the way you predicted or have there been surprises along the way?

ALLEN: Well, I think for the most part, it's been what one might have expected. I mean, in the sense that we knew this was a quieter figure, a more cerebral figure, a sort of cooler figure in some ways. That's been the style of his Papacy.

I think the major surprise, though, is a lot of people -- you will remember when Ratzinger was elected -- talked about him as God's Rottweiler, as the German shepherd who was going to bring a massive global hammer dawn. We really have not seen much of that. There's been an effort to project a more positive image of the Papacy, a more positive message to the world.

That probably has been the main take away in terms of surprise.

MANN: If you're just joining us, you are watching an extraordinary event unfold in Rome, a crowd estimated at perhaps a million people, though I suspect even more, has gathered for the Beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II.

John Paul, who served as Pope for nearly 27 years, has been declared venerable and then a servant of the church. And on this day, he will be proclaimed blessed by his successor, Benedict XVI, and at that point will be just one step away from sainthood.

Just within the hours after his death, within the first minutes, in fact, a crowd that gathered there in St. Peter's Square proclaimed -- they screamed out "Santo Subitos (ph)," sainthood now, sainthood immediately.

And that groundswell of devotion to the memory of John Paul II six years ago brings us to where we are today. You're watching now as Benedict XVI makes his way to the beatification mass, which will start in just a few moments.

Remarkably, we will also see the coffin of John Paul II, which has been taken from the underground grotto beneath St. Peter's Basilica. And the faithful will have a chance to approach it in the hours and days to come.

We will also see -- and this is an extraordinary thing if you're not within the Catholic tradition. We will see vials of the late Pope's blood, blood that was taken from him during his lifetime for use in transfusions which were ultimately not performed.

That blood now a holy relic which will also be presented on this day of devotion to the memory of John Paul II.


MANN: (INAUDIBLE) There are many heads of state, many national delegations, royal families represented and, of course, an enormous contingent from Poland. You can see their red and white banners identifying their home cities and home towns.

Of course, John Paul II the first Polish Pope, the first non- Italian Pope in nearly five centuries, embraced by the people of Italy, embraced by the people of Rome, embraced by Catholics around the world.

In many senses -- of course, the church controls the process of beatification, but it responds to the faithful. And the faithful have embraced Pope John Paul II in a very, very profound way.

Our senior Vatican analyst John Allen is watching along with Jim Bittermann. John, there are extraordinary procedures for all of this and it would seem that leading up to today, the Vatican has tried to push, bend, work through just about every one of them to try and do this quickly and to make it possible for Catholics around the world to respond to John Paul in a way other beatified Catholics have not.

ALLEN: But in this case, only a little over six years passed from the death of John Paul II to his beatification. Now, of course, as you yourself said a moment ago, in one way, the Vatican's argument would be this was a response to popular demand, those chants of sainthood now during John Paul's funeral mass.

But the cardinals, before they elected the next, actually signed a petition asking the next Pope to speed this one. In fact, there's one Italian commentator this week who said this isn't just Santo Subito. It's Santo Sobito, which is a pun in Italian meaning this is not only a fast sainthood. It's an imposed sainthood.

This is one that came from the grassroots, rather than from the top down.

BITTERMANN: I think, John, also it's fair to point out that one of the things that they say -- this idea of being proclaimed from the grassroots -- it takes a lot less time these days for these things to happen, because absolutely everybody recognize the Pope during his Papacy. He was exposed in such a way that he was one of the most recognizable figures on the planet.

As such, the idea of getting acclaimed by rank and file Catholics, it is the procedure these days because of the media, because of Internet, because of all those communication tools that we have that takes it a lot less time than it may have done 50, 100 years ago.

ALLEN: Sure. The whole world moves faster in the 21st century. You know, sainthood is supposed to begin with what's called a fame of sanctity. That is someone is known for having lived a holy life.

Now, if you're an obscure doorman in a country off the beaten track, it may take centuries actually for the wider Catholic world to wake up to the fact that this was an extraordinary life. But, as you say, John Paul was the towering media icon of his age. I'm not sure you had to wait a century for his personal fame of holiness to register on the public radar.

BITTERMANN: And this is what Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Pope's spokesman for most of his Papacy said just last night, which was look, if you see the saintly qualities, why wait?

ALLEN: Yes. And obviously the turnout of more than a million people today is an indication that if your standard is a grassroots conviction that somebody is a saint, at least in the case of John Paul, there's pretty clear evidence just over our shoulders that that's the case.



MANN: An enormous crowd gathers in St. Peter's Square, a million Catholic pilgrims in Rome on this day watching as Pope Benedict XVI leads them in prayer and begins the beatification mass for John Paul II.


MANN: Much of what we will see in the minutes and hours to come will resemble a mass.

But now, the beginning of the beatification rite.


MANN: This is, I take it, the formal request that the beatification of John Paul II will proceed.

John Allen and Jim Bitterman are watching along with us. So I have that right, this is the start of the process on this day?

BITTERMANN: That's right, John. The Vicar of Rome is speaking now. Why does the Vicar of Rome have such an important role in this?

ALLEN: Well, remember that a blessed, as opposed to a saint, is technically being beatified for a local church, in this case the local churches of Poland also Rome, because John Paul, in addition to being Pope, was the Bishop of Rome for almost 27 years.

So it is the head of the Church of Rome, in this case Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who is formally presenting the request for John Paul to be beatified.

BITTERMANN: A request which I'm sure is going to be --

ALLEN: We're operating on the assumption that the Benedict is going to say yes, that's right.


MANN: This is a very special moment, of course. This is a very special day. But special doesn't do it justice.

This is a day when Pope Benedict XVI, on behalf of the church, the church as a whole, recognizes a miracle, a miraculous event, the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II to save a woman from an incurable disease. That was a crucial element advancing John Paul II to this stage of the process.

As we watch this and as I'm sure this will come up in the biographical notes that are being read about him -- John Allen, can you tell us what the miracle attributed to John Paul II was?

ALLEN: Sure, John. It's the healing of the 49-year-old French nun by the name of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, who in 2001 was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Parkinson's disease, which the poetic arch is it's the same disease that John Paul II himself suffered from.

In 2005, after the Pope died, for Marie and her community, prayed to the late Pope for help. She reports that on the night of June 2nd, 2005, she went to bed believing that she was going to spend the rest of her life confined to a wheelchair, unable to work, prayed to the Pope.

On the morning of June 3rd, she reported waking up and being symptom free. She then went into the chapel to pray in gratitude, then, of course, had an appointment with her neurologist who confirmed that she was free of the symptoms of Parkinson's, and has remained so ever since.

The Vatican standard for healing that counts as miraculous are that it has to be instantaneous. It has to be complete. It has to be prominent. And it has to be scientifically inexplicable.

They have a bank of medical doctors, some 66 doctors in the congregation of saints of the Vatican that looks into these things. Then they have a panel of theologians. They all sign off on it.

A footnote to that, John, is that the French sister is here in Rome for this beatification. She spoke at a massive vigil ceremony in Rome's Circus Maximus last night, attended by more than 200,000 people. And she is here at the beatification mass.

MANN: And, in fact, she's evidence of something -- you know, many people have said -- in fact, the clerics at the Vatican have said to be beatified, even to be sainted, is to be essentially a role model for people, for Catholics around the world.

It is something more than that. At least one miracle has to be attributed to anyone if they want to be beatified. And now a second miracle will be required after this beatification ceremony in order to suggest to the Vatican that God has approved of the beatification.

That second miracle after beatification is one of the necessary steps towards sainthood.

But as we watch this, Jim Bitterman, is there any question in anyone's mind that mind that John Paul II will before long be recognized as a saint?

BITTERMANN: I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind. It's really a question of how long it's going to take. Having said that, one of the things we saw with Mother Teresa was that she has got to the point of being blessed under, in fact, John Paul II's Papacy. And that second miracle has not yet appeared. It has to meet the standards as John outlined.

And as a consequence, it's not just anybody walking in and saying, look, I've been miraculously healed. I mean, one of the things that -- the whole sort of background to the idea of making saints is that you have someone sitting at the hand of God who can intercede with God on your behalf.

So the proof of that, of course, is someone that's miraculously cured. Obviously they pray to the saint. The saint then intervenes and you're cured. So you have a second proof of that.

Then we really know that the person, the saint, is actually up there right at the hand of God. Am I explaining that right?

ALLEN: Jim, you're right on the money. The only footnote is these miracles do not have to be healings. In theory, it could be any divine intervention. In fact, when John Paul beatified a Croatian nun in 2002, her miracle was that a Peruvian Naval lieutenant had prayed to her as his sub was sinking and was granted superhuman strength.

He was able to turn a hatch against thousands of pounds of water pressure and save 22 crewmen. So it could be anything. But in the vast majority of cases, they are healings.

BITTERMANN: The standard for a saint that is a martyr is somewhat less, yes?

ALLEN: Well, that's right. A martyr, who is killed in what the church calls odio fadi (ph), that is in hatred of the faith, does not need a miracle. So it's sort of like, don't pass go, don't collect 200 dollars. You move straight into beatification and then canonization.

But for any other kind of saint known as a confessor, you need miracles.


MANN: Once again, if you're just joining us, a remarkable day in Rome, a remarkable day at the Vatican. More than a million people have arrived as pilgrims to witness and be part of the history of their church.

John Paul II is to be beatified. You're watching the beatification mass live, as the story of his life is read out. In principle, this is now a request to Pope Benedict XVI to proceed with the beatification. Obviously, the Pope has been involved very closely for ,such of this process, a process that has moved with just about remarkable speed, as just about every commentator has noted.

John Paul II died just six years ago. And a process that can take centuries and frequently does has been speeded up, the fastest beatification in modern history, the first time a Pope is taking the extraordinary step of beatifying his predecessor, a man he knew very well from their long years together at the Vatican.

You can see the flags there from Poland. There are, of course, countless Poles there. John Paul II the first Polish Pope. But there are people from every nation. There are heads of state. There are heads of government. There are members of the royal families of the world.

It is the biggest crowd we have seen at the Vatican since the funeral of John Paul II six years ago. He is being recognized as a blessed figure within the church, the third of four steps towards Sainthood, a process that began with a close study of his life, his proclamation as a servant of God, then as a venerable man, and now as a blessed one.

Certainly there's no doubt in the minds of millions of his followers and the million or so people who have come to Rome today.


MANN: As we watch the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome read those biographical notes to Benedict XVI, we can refer back to one of the people who knew John Paul II best and who spoke to CNN. Joaquin Navarro-Callswas the latest Pontiff's spokesman and he talked about the speed which John Paul has traveled the path of sainthood.


JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS, JOHN PAUL II'S SPOKESMAN: Some people asked me a question from a historical point of view -- well, this is not a historical judgment.

Once the virtues are clear, why wait? The historical judgment is different. It might take centuries. But they -- they -- to be aware, to know well the Christians virtues in his life, which is what beatification is all about, is now clear.


MANN: Now, there has been some strange choreography in the days leading up to this. The coffin of Pope John Paul II was removed from its marble tomb in the underground crypt beneath St Peter's Basilica and transferred to the Basilica itself.

It's been placed in front of the main altar in the Basilica -- or it will be shortly -- so that thousands of pilgrims who travel to Vatican City, a million people, will be able to see it.

That is not, though, it's final resting place. The remains of 15th Century Pope Innocent were removed from the chapel of St. Sebastian, which is at the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica, to make way for John Paul II. Never before has the body of one Pope been removed to make way for another.

Meanwhile, the large tombstone which covered the late Pope's grave for the past six years is to be taken to Krakow, in Poland, where it will be placed in a new church dedicated to the Blessed, as he will be known, John Paul II.

We're watching live now the beatification ceremony underway in Rome. Jim Bitterman and John Allen are watching along with us. And once again, one is struck by the devotion. You know, church fathers have said, this is not about John Paul the Pope --

BITTERMANN: I didn't hear the question. Would you repeat that?

MANN: Let me repeat it, simply this: church fathers say this isn't about John Paul, the Pope. This is about John Paul the man. What kind of man was he?

BITTERMANN: Do you want to tackle that one, John?

ALLEN: Well, John -- Jim, of course, obviously, John Paul was Pope for almost 27 years. He dealt with a wide variety of complex issues. There's a healthy debate about whether he resolved all of those issues correctly or not.

Beneath that, though, I think there was a near universal conviction that this was a mix, a real authentic human being, who had a fantastic sense of humor, who had a great love of life, a great capacity for friendship. You will remember almost every day, anybody who was in Rome who had anything interesting to see would be at the Pope's lunch table.

At night, he would have these rolling graduate seminars talking about the issues in the world. When he was on the road -- I think his idea of original sin was to walk into a room and not greet every person in that room. You know?

This was just a guy who had a kind of magic that people responded to, whether they agreed with him or not.

BITTERMANN: You know, the thing that impressed me, John and John, the fact is that on those trips -- and I wrote about this on my blog on CNN, the fact is that he traveled an enormous distance. This is a man who grew up under Nazis, under communism, in short, not under freedom at all. And his ability to reach out, to learn things, to be educated on stuff, to go a seminary, even -- it had to be an underground seminary -- his ability to -- just to sort of improve himself was something that is incredible when you see the difference that he has gone from his poor town of Wadowice, a poor polluted town, I should, say Wadowice in Poland.

That's the way it was in the 30s -- to the point where he could become the head of a church of one billion people. It's a pretty extraordinary journey. And I think that says a lot about the man, too.

BITTERMANN: Yes, Jim. That's absolutely right. I mean, one biography of John Paul II referred to him as the man of the century. Not in the sense that he was necessarily the best human being of that century, but rather that his biography cut across every significant moment of 20th century history, from the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire -- his father was a lieutenant in the Hapsburg Army -- to the First World War, to the rise of Nazism, the rise of communism.

Flash forward to 9/11 and the response of the Vatican to the terrorist attacks of that day, the rise of China as a global super power. There isn't a single issue with which John Paul wasn't somehow intrinsically connected. That's what makes him such a fascinating and compelling figure.

MANN: As we remember him on this day, watching this beatification mass, in everyone's memory, Catholic or not, was the image of John Paul II and his decline in old age. He was a man who suffered enormously. He suffered from Parkinson's Disease.

He was shot by a would-be assassin and he suffered terribly as a result of that. And his suffering is very much remembered by the Catholic faithful. It's been one of the themes I think leading up to his beatification, hasn't it, John?

ALLEN: Absolutely. And I think people have commented about that in the last few days. And I think we're right at the point in the beatification rite where we're going to have the actual beatification itself.


MANN: The beatification of John Paul II is complete. And now we see the nun, cured of Parkinson's disease, it is said, by the intercession of the late John Paul II carrying a relic, a vial of John Paul II's blood taken for a transfusion that was ultimately never performed, but blood that has been saved, at least in part, with the vision of a day like this, to be venerated by the very many pilgrims, a million who are crowding into Rome on this day.

Jim Bitterman is watching along with us. Jim, we are going to see now a more conventional Sunday mass. But what we have seen and what we are seeing now is clearly a celebration for Catholics, faithful around the world, of something miraculous.

BITTERMANN: Right. Exactly John. We'll go right into the liturgy of the word. Basically through order of mass, as it happens every Sunday in most every Catholic church around the world.

Of course, this is a Papal mass, so in fact it normally would go about two hours. I have a feeling it's probably going to go about 2.5 hours or more because of what we've just seen, the beatification.

I should just point out one thing you mentioned about the veneration of the relic of the vial of blood, of John Paul's blood. There's also going to be -- once this choreography has taken place you talked about earlier, there's going to a veneration of John Paul himself. The casket has been moved up to a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica, much more accessible to the well wishers, the faithful, the people that would like to see John Paul II's casket.

It will be on display from here on, basically, in St. Peter. Is that correct?

ALLEN: Yes, that's absolutely right. I mean, relics of saints are extraordinarily important in Catholic tradition. In the Middle Ages, villages would actually go to war over who got to control the bones of the saints and so.

Catholics like to have a tactile relationship with their saints. So the accessibility of John Paul's body, being able to see it, to pray in front of it, to connect with him physically is very important.

The same thing, of course, explains the devotion attached to those vials of blood. Four vials of blood actually were extracted from John Paul in case he needed a transfusion. One of those will be in the reliquary here in St. Peter's Basilica eventually.

Another will end up at a shrine in Poland dedicated to Krakow- Lagiewniki, John Paul's favorite saint. And a couple them will actually continue to be held by a group of sisters who cared for the Pope in his last days.

So there will continue to be this physical connection with John Paul. One thing about the mass we're going to see today, we should note, is that when we get to the point in the mass in which Benedict XVI delivers his homily, which is his reflection on the Bible readings, we also expect him to talk at some length about the life and legacy of John Paul, and also perhaps even his personal memories of this man who he served for so long in the Vatican.

BITTERMANN: It should be a homily that's quite exceptional in nature, I think, because of the exceptional nature of today's mass.

MANN: And once again, just to make this point for viewers who may just be joining us, you are watching a ceremony live from the Vatican, the beatification of John Paul II who on this day is considered blessed by the Roman Catholic Church.

A moment ago, we were staring at the vial of his blood which has been brought out for veneration We're calling on a tradition which goes back to the very earliest days of the church, the veneration of relics of the holy.

john Paul II's blood has now been brought out so that the crowd can be physically close to it. And John Paul's remains will be also available to pilgrims inside St. Peter's Basilica who may approach it in the hours to come.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is kindly asked that we maintain a climate of silence and of prayer in order to participate more fruitfully in this Eucharistic celebration. From this moment, therefore, it is kindly asked that we refrain from applause and from waving banners.


MANN: Now we're seeing from a moment ago the unveiling of a portrait of John Paul II. This tapestry was based on a photograph taken in 1995 when you can see the Pope was still in full health. He was robust. He was relatively young.

Our image of the late John Paul II is so colored by his later years, by his long years of suffering from Parkinson's Disease. But on this day, we're reminded of his youth and, of course, of his death six years ago and the enormous -- enormous power that he continues to hold over the faith and imaginations of so many Catholics around the world.

We're going to go back now to the live picture. His remains have been exhumed from beneath St. Peter's Basilica. And they lie now in the Basilica itself, near the main altar, where so many of the faithful will be invited to come approach his coffin. And it will lie there, the Vatican says, until the very last of the faithful has had a chance. Jim Bittermann, senior Vatican analyst John Allen are watching with us. And it almost seems difficult to pierce this moment, this mass. It's an extraordinary day in the Vatican. But for so many Catholics, something remarkable about Pope John Paul II has been recognized and he is now one step closer to sainthood.

Your thoughts?

BITTERMANN: You know, John, one of the things that John said to me just as we were watching what happened here, it really was the Benedict XVI's touch. And I don't think we would have seen it under John Paul II. Basically, there was an announcement made the platform in multiple languages that people should stop sort of celebrating, stop applauding, be quiet, go back to the calm, more dignified order of the mass.

I know under John Paul II -- and I think we saw it in some of his travels -- there were some moments when there were masses with dancing, with all sorts of native music and things like that, which some people thought went too far. And certainly Benedict XVI probably would have said it went too far. I think what we saw today was a Benedict XVI moment, as you said.

ALLEN: Well, you know, purists in the Catholic world often kind of felt ambivalent about many of John Paul's public masses, because they were kind of a cross between, you know, an act of devotion and a pep rally, and sometimes a Broadway musical like "Cats" or something.

Part of that was just the emotions John Paul generated with the people. Some of this wasn't scripted. A lot of times this kind of cheering and applauding and chanting -- you remember those famous chants, chobani (ph)


ALLEN: Right, reminiscent of the Super Bowl or something like that. And that welled spontaneously from the kind of emotional reaction that John Paul elicited.

Now Benedict XVI is, of course, a bit more of a traditionalist. Part of that is his humility. He wants the focus here to be on God and on the mass, not on his own person. In any event, it is clearly a different, more reverential, more sober, if you like, kind of sign.

BITTERMANN: So we'll watch the traditional mass here now as that unfolds.

MANN: John Allen, Jim Bittermann, as we watch this live from St. Peter's square, I would remind people something that you remember very well, both of you. It took a miracle to bring John Paul II to this stage, to this beatification. And it's particularly resonant because he believed that his own life had been saved in St. Peter's Square by a miracle, by the interception of a saint.

And it was that day back in 1981 when he was nearly killed by an assassin. And he really believed that on that day there was a miracle to save his life. Can you tell us about that?

ALLEN: Yes, that's absolutely right, John. May 13th, 1981, as you say, is the day when a Turkish gunman shot at John Paul II, nearly killed him in the square. As it happens, May 13th is also the day of Our Lady of Fatima, (INAUDIBLE)

-- John Paul was a great devotee of our lady of Fatima. He believed on that day the Virgin Mary, in effect, altered the flight path of the bullet in order to save his life and preserve him in office.

Parts of -- the events of his life were not just part of human history, but they were also part of divine history. It's also worth adding, John, that two years later in December 1983, John Paul II went to Rebebia (ph) prison here in Rome, where Mehmet Ali Agca was serving his Italian sentence, and embraced him and offered him his forgiveness.

And I think that is one of those iconic moments that made John Paul a point of reference not just for the Catholic church but for the entire world. They saw this utterly, if you like, spontaneous act of forgiveness and reconciliation offered by a Pope to the man who had tried to kill him. I think that is one of those moments that really cemented John Paul as an icon of his times.

MANN: It's worth noting, just for people who are wondering, whatever happened to his would be assassin, he served his time in an Italian prison. He was freed. He returned to Turkey where he was jailed as well in connection with another crime. But he was subsequently freed there as well.

So as we watch this ceremony unfold in Rome, he may be watching along with us a free man, a man remembered, of course, as the would be assassin, the man forgiven by John Paul II, now free.


MANN: If you're just joining us, you're now watching the celebration of mass in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, with an enormous crowd, maybe a million people, maybe more, who gathered for an extraordinary event that we saw just a short time ago, the beatification of John Paul II.

The late Pope has moved one step closer to sainthood, just one step away on the basis of so much faith, so much devotion, so much support from within the church, but also the attribution of a miracle.

I think you think you'll see in a moment in the videotape that we were showing a moment ago -- the nun who believes -- that is her in the white. That is sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, who believes that the interception of John Paul II saved her life, cured her of incurable Parkinson's Disease.

She not only testified to that fact, she has not only proclaimed her conviction that she believes she was saved by a miracle, but she was seen again on this day part of that small procession, presenting a relic, a vile of John Paul II's blood to Pope Benedict XVI after Pope Benedict proclaimed the beatification.

An extraordinary thing, an extraordinary thing.

I am still struck by that. For so many people watching that, Jim Bittermann and John Allen, that blood is part of what makes this, I think, to many people outside the Catholic church such a unique, I daresay exotic process.

The element of the magical, the mystical, the veneration of the relic of the late Pope's blood, the veneration of his body which has also been exhumed and the coffin put on display.

BITTERMANN: Well, I should say, John, that, in fact, it's pretty common throughout the Catholic church. Just down the street from my home in Paris, we're very close to the Church of the Miraculous Medal. And there are two nuns' bodies that -- the relics of two nuns that are venerated there.

And I think you see it in Catholic churches around the world. It's a part of making the church tangible, yes?

ALLEN: Sure, Jim. And of course, this thing, the Catholic church, we actually have a classification system. There are relics of the first class, which are pieces of a saint's body or the clothing that the saints wore.

Relics of the second class would be other items habitually used by these saint. And relics of the third class would be anything that has physically touched relics of the first or second class.

Obviously, the blood we are seeing this morning is a prime example of a relics of the first class, something that came from within John Paul's own bloodstream.

But you're right. At bottom, what all this is about is that Catholicism is a sacramental tradition, which means visible, tangible things of this world are symbols of the supernatural. They point you beyond this world.

And many writers talked about the Catholic sacramental imagination. We can't just have abstract concepts. We need to see real stuff as reminders of what our faith is all about.

BITTERMANN: That blood, by the way, John -- I don't know if you mentioned before, but that blood was actually drawn from John Paul's body shortly before his death, was on standby for use as a transfusion and never was used.

MANN: Tell us more about what is going to happen to his remains, because they have also been moved.

BITTERMANN: As we understand it, the remains will be -- the casket itself will be in the St. Sebastian chapel in St. Peter's, which is just off to the right side. It's close to the Michelangelo (INAUDIBLE). It will be there -- and there's a question we're still debating here, whether or not you're actually going to be seeing John Paul's body. The fact is that John XXIII's body is on display. You can see it in the Vatican. And there is I think every likelihood that you'll be able to see John Paul's body if you come and visit the Vatican and go to the chapel.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And obviously, that is going to become a massive pilgrimage destination. Already when John Paul's body was in the crypt, that is below the main floor of St. Peter's Basilica, you know, you had very long lines every day, people from all over the world waiting for -- to spend a few moments of prayer and thanksgiving there.

We now presume that it's even more accessible on the main floor of the Basilica. Probably you're going to have two very long lines here every day, one just to get into the Basilica and then the other to pass by the final resting place of John Paul II.

It's also worth noting that in addition to his body being placed there, the reliquary, which is a container for relics, which has been built specifically to hold that vial of John Paul's blood. It's in the shape of an olive branch, symbolizing John Paul as a man of peace. That will be placed next to the casket. So that will also be on display, also something for people to come and see and touch and sense..


JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: As you were talking, of course, in the days after his death, the remains of John Paul II were in St. Peter's Basilica and liens of the faithful made their way patiently, waiting for hours to get closed to it,

I was in one of those crowds and I can remember seeing the people in front of me pausing not just to reflect, not just to contemplate John Paul, but they pulled out their cell phones, flipped them open and took photographs of his remains. It was a slightly discordant juxtaposition of a timeless ritual and a modern day one, I suppose.

But people really did try and still do try and bring John Paul II into their lives.

If you are just joining us, we have been watching over the last hour live from St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, the ceremony beatifying John Paul II, moving him one step close to sainthood.

With his beatification, which was proclaimed just a short time ago by Pope Benedict XVI, we saw the unveiling of his portrait, which is now hanging from St. Peter. It's a portrait of John Paul II.

Once, again -- I say this before, but I am struck. They chose a portrait from 1995. They based it on a photograph. It is a tapestry, but it really shows him in his vigor, in the years of his strength, before so much of his health was taken from him by Parkinson's, by hip and knee ailments, before age really robbed him of much of his physical vigor.

His remains are seen there in St. Peter's Basilica, where as John Allen and Jim Bittermann were mentioning, they will lie so that the million or so people who have gathered in Rome and more people who may want to can approach and pray with the late John Paul II.


MANN: The process that leads to sainthood, the process that has brought John Paul II to beatification starts with the people of the church, the faithful of the church. Catholics and their devotion are supposed to be pushing the church to recognize John Paul as beatified.

So many people around the world felt that devotion to John Paul. But one man who knew John Paul personally very well was his former spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He spoke to CNN earlier in Rome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Paul II, why is he a saint?

JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS, SPOKESMAN FOR JOHN PAUL II: One of the things that I quite often remember of him is the good humor, the good humor. And because at 17 years -- when you are 17 years old, to have with humor, it's some obligation. It's biology.

At 40, with some problems at home, with wife, children or the place you work, it's more difficult to be. At 80, when you are 80, full of responsibilities, full of innocence, keep the good humor is sanctity to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great saints, there's usually a simple idea. St. Francis, lover of the Earth and all its creatures. Mother Teresa, servant of the poor. John Viani (ph), patron of priests.

What's the simple idea that will pass into history about John Paul II?

NAVARRO-WALLS: For me? This is something that he told me quite informally at dinner one day. Holy father, what is the key point of your pontificate. And he said it was straight like that, to keep the (INAUDIBLE) openness of the human being that today can be very easily considered as a thing, as something, not as a human person. That as a key point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To keep the holy alive?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you give us your favorite personal memory of John Paul II?

NAVARRO-WALLS: It's very difficult for me after more than 20 years with him just to pick up something. But you can imagine -- my father died. He was rather old. Some days before, the Holy Father knew that and said, well, go and stay with him the last days. He died. And the moment I took my mother back home after the cleaning -- my father had died. Some minutes later the telephone rang. I pick it up and it was the Pope on the phone.

And also the nice thing, the first question he put in that moment, very sensible question in that moment is how is your mother? Not how are you? But how is your mother doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that this has been too fast?

NAVARRO-WALLS: No. Some of the people asked me a question from the historical point of view. Well, this is not a historical judgment. Once the virtues are clear, why wait?

The historical judgment is different. It might take centuries. But to be aware, to well the Christian virtues in his life, which is what beatification is all about, is now clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you worked with him, did you know that you were in the presence of a saint?

NAVARRO-WALLS: Yes, Yes, absolutely. Even in some occasions, I had to tell myself, Navarro, please, you are talking with the Pope. Because it was so informal in the way in which you can work and interact with him.

But just seeing him, the way he prayed was very clear in your mind that you were talking to a saint. Nothing extraordinary, but fully believing that this man was speaking to the God, talking to God, having a nice conversation with God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he going to be John Paul the Great?

NAVARRO-WALLS: Is he John Paul the Great? I agree with that from an historical point of view. And I think I've been privileged enough to have been with him. For instance, the ten years between '79 and '89, the ten years that changed the life of hundreds of millions of people in Central and Eastern Europe, or the big changes in Latin America.

He went to Chile and sometime after that, Pinochet was out. He was through (INAUDIBLE) the whole change, the whole thing changed. He was in Congo for the change, et cetera.

So big changes from the historic point of view. That is why, I think, that it's quite appropriate to call him John Paul the Great, no doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last one. We're beatifying a Pope, not a Papacy?

NAVARRO-WALLS: That's a tricky question. This is a tricky question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish the question. What I wanted to ask is we all know John Paul's great successes. From your point of view, what has unfinished business? What were his disappointments, his failures?

NAVARRO-WALLS: Disappointments? He loved the dear of embrace (INAUDIBLE) in Moscow and he couldn't do that. I was sent when he was very old, a year before he died, with an icon of our lady just to be presented to the patriarch, the patriarch in Moscow. He couldn't go there.

He wanted a lot. He wanted the possibility of being with some Catholics in China. He couldn't do that. So many things remain. But I also say that he did everything that God had entrusted him to do. That is my opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to ask you, there has been --


MANN: This is a man who was talking to God, "having a good conversation," a lovely colloquial way to remember John Paul II by his spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who was talking to us about this day.

If you're just joining us, we're looking at live pictures from St. Peter's Square in Rome where an enormous crowd is stretching out basically as far as the e can see, spilling out of the square for the mass beatifying John Paul II, declaring him as a blessed servant of God.

We've been watching the live pictures, extraordinary things for so many Catholics around the world who truly venerate this man.

Jim Bittermann is watching along with us. Jim, listening to Joaquin Navarro-Valls, we heard a point that you and I and John Allen have not made a lot, but that bears repeating.

For many people and especially for the Catholic faithful, John Paul II was more than a Pope and more than a religious figure. He was a pivot of world history, wasn't he?

BITTERMANN: Absolutely. I mean, I think one of the things that spokesman Navarro-Valls and we all went through were the trips to Poland in the early days, when Poland was still communist, the trip to Cuba, the preaching about freedom and liberty in both those places and many other places.

He was a massive geopolitical figure. It bears remembering that his strength and stature relate to the idea that he was able to use what they called the megaphone of the Papacy to -- they always say where is the Pope's armies? Well, the Pope doesn't have any armies.

But he certainly got this massive megaphone that he used. Some people would say that he wasn't so good at using it when the sex scandals hit the church. But on many geopolitical issues, he was right there and talking about his opposition to war, for example. He was opposed to the Iraq war and he told people that. Told Tony Blair that when he came to visit him at the Vatican. So, you know, just any number of issues and he spoke out very clearly. And I think that is one of the reasons that he should be remembered, John. Political -- the case of the rise of Solidarity in Poland and the fall of the Iron Curtain -- the fact is, he directly supported the rise of Solidarity with printing presses, with paper, with his trips to Poland in a way that inspired people to rise up against the communist dictatorship there.

And, in fact, they eventually did and eventually won. John.

MANN: CNN's Diana Magnay is in Poland, in Krakow, a city which has very, very strong, I guess, indelible memories of John Paul II. Diana, they're watching this unfold, I'm sure.

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. There are thousands of people who have came out, who have braved the rains, to celebrate their Polish Pope, who was so dearly loved here, lived here in Krakow obviously for four decades of his life.

In the end as archbishop, starting as a student, going through his seminary studies here. And there are public viewing events across this country to celebrate the Pope, who many people here really felt was a saint, even throughout most of his Papacy, that his Papacy was a blessing for Poland.

And as Jim was just saying, of course, if you look back at what he did politically for this country in 1979, just as he had been elevated to the Papacy. He came back to Poland for nine days. And around a third of the Polish population came to see him then.

And he really gave them a sense of the fact that the world is looking at Poland, that they should have courage and confidence for being Polish. Freedom through their faith was really a message he preached.

And if you talk to some of the freedom fighters at the time, like Lech Walesa, they will say that he really did give the Polish people the courage to stand up for their freedom, that the revolution that ensued was bloodless probably largely as a result of John Paul II.

MANN: Even before he was Pope, in fact, even as a young seminarian studying for the priesthood in an underground seminary, as a young priest, facing up to the Nazi occupation of his country, as a bishop responding to the communist domination of his country, before he was Pope.

The people of Poland can remember John Paul, then Carol Wojtyla, as a man who stood up to tyranny.

MAGNAY: Absolutely, a man who had seen Nazism and communism, totalitarianism in all its most appalling forms, and who stood there saying to the people that faith could set you free.

So he really did appear as an example to a country that had been so long, for so many decades, oppressed by totalitarianism, that Poland itself stood for something. It didn't have to be a country occupied first by Germany and second by the Soviets, that it was a country in its own right, with people with a right to their own freedom.

MANN: And even after Poland became a democracy and really made its overtures, made its introduction to the western capitalist democracies, he was stirring in some ways, reminding Poles not to abandon their Catholic heritage, reminding them I think as -- I don't know. Well, obviously as a strong and courageous moral voice not to embrace the evils of capitalism, as he saw it.

MAGNAY: Absolutely. And in a way after his death. And now that is a problem that Catholic Poland faces. I think that during his Papacy, the fact of a Polish Pope was galvanizing to the Catholic faith here in this country.

But Capitalism has meant that a lot of people are turning away from the Catholic faith here in Poland, as they have done in many other countries around the world where suddenly wealth amounts to something. Whereas in the past, faith was all you had to hold on to.

So that could in a sense be a sign that he may be looking down with a sense of regret at the fact that Catholicism is losing its hold in this country, and partly possibly because of the fact that the Polish Pope is no longer the head of the Catholic church. .

MANN: We're talking about him in upper case nouns, which is appropriate. I was struck by you reporting the other day visiting a souvenir shop with t-shirts of the Pope, and just a simple, approachable kind of affection for the memory of the man.

MAGNAY: Absolutely. And people really here feel that he is a part of them. They feel incredible affection to him. When you talk to people, you found out what it was that they felt when they saw him. It was not just that he had this amazing human touch, this real humility, and this sense that even if you saw him from afar, you felt something strong from him, but that he had also a sort of spiritual energy, a divine energy, which is why so many people feel that he was a holy man from his time as archbishop here in Krakow, his time as head of the Catholic church, and why so many of them wanted to see him a saint as soon as he died, why this is a day of such celebration here in this country, John.

MANN: Diana Magnay in Krakow, in Poland, thanks very much.

Well, if John Paul is to become a saint, he'll need another miracle. So the search is on. The Vatican has already received thousands of stories of miraculous healing attributed to the late Pontiff, like this next one.

CNN's Elizabeth Jamarick (ph) meets a woman in Chicago who says her prayers to John Paul II saved her son from partial blindness.


JOANNA LUKASIK, ATTRIBUTES MIRACLE TO JOHN PAUL II : I was driving to hospital. I begging him and cry and begging him to save his vision. And that is what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joanna Lukasik believes divine intervention from the late Pope John Paul II healed her son, Christopher. In 2007, he suffered a serious eye injury after a freak accident building shelves.

LUKASIK: Three days, he was bleeding from the eye so bad. And only specialist cannot tell what happened. They say they cannot see it, if he lost vision or not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Kirk Packo examined Christopher at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He says, quote, "Christopher was a hair close to being blind in that eye. The boy was hit hard enough to damage his optic fibers, but not hard enough to go blind. He got really lucky."

Joanna grew up near John Paul's home town in Poland and said it's her cultural connection to the Pontiff that gives her faith in his healing powers.

LUKASIK: I know that John Paul II did it for him. And that's why I always -- in a difficult time I'm always going to pray to him because he is the one. He give me miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She says the making of this miracle was three years before her son's accident. Christopher met Pope John Paul II during a youth trip to Rome in 2004.

CHRISTOPHER LUKASIK, BELIEVS JOHN PAUL II HEALED HIS EYES: When I touched his hand, I did feel something I never felt around any other human being, which in all honesty was probably my first actual spiritual experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christopher says that experience made him realize Pope John Paul II was in the realm of a higher power. : He believes this encounter could be the blessing that helped him overcome his injury.

C. LUKASIK: If one person suffers trauma, another person suffers trauma. One heals better than the other. It might be a physical thing or it might be something spiritual. Going into and actually believing the church, I'm sure it helped get me mind off the issues, helped my body heal more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Years after his recover, Christopher reflects on the profound impact the Pope made on his life.

C. LUKASIK: I'm very proud that he's going to be beatified. It couldn't happen to a better person. I really hope of the fact of it being such a quicker time around, by the time he's actually turned into a saint strikes some people.

Maybe they'll gain some many as to what he actually did when he was alive and the good that he did for the world.


MANN: We're going to return now to live coverage of the beatification mass under way in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. This is Benedict XVI proclaiming the homily. CNN's Jim Bittermann joins us now. A personal homily, appropriate on this day.

Tell us about what the Pope is saying.

BITTERMANN: Personal -- I think it's probably going to get more personal as we go along here. Basically, he has so far reminded people about the last time they gathered in these kind of numbers which was, of course, for Pope John Paul's funeral six years ago.

He's asked the question that we've been debating over the last couple of days and that's the speed with which this has taken place. Benedict XVI said I wanted this cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste, as he put it.

And now they have came quickly because this was what was pleasing to the board, John Paul the II is blessed. When he said that, once again the crowd broke out into a cheer. He's now into the homily, talking a bit about greeting those who have come for the Papal mass and this mass of beatification.

MANN: As we watch this, I'm reminded of the day six years ago when we first saw Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had just been elected Pope. He came out to address the crowd in St. Peter's Square.

He said then some very stirring things about John Paul. The very first moments that he was greeting the world as Pope, he said "I seem to feel his strong hand clasping mine, I seem to see his smiling eyes and hear his words at the moment addressed specifically to me. Do not be afraid."

This man had a very intense relationship. They couldn't have been more different. One of them, John Paul II, a man of the people. Joseph Ratzinger a man of text, of words, of theology. A scholarly figure compared to John Paul II's athletic and magnetic presence.

But even now in this homily, he's making reference to that. And we see these enormous, enormous crowds. The crowd bigger than any that Cardinal Ratzinger I believe has ever drawn to the Vatican.

do I have that right, Jim Bittermann? This is not the kind of crowd we see.

BITTERMANN: This is the kind of contrast between the inside man and the outside. You see this not only in the Vatican. You see it everywhere in the world, in all kinds of institutions.

But Cardinal Ratzinger very much the inside man who came up from within the church. Whereas John Paul was very much the pastoral cardinal, then the pastoral Pope who went around the world spreading the message of the church in a very different way than Benedict XVI feels he should.

I think there's a big contrast in their two styles. And what you're talking about, in a way, Benedict XVI has lived from the beginning in the shadow of John Paul II.

We were talking when -- during the election, before he was even pronounced Pope, we were talking about the idea that in our interviews with the various cardinals, that we thought we would see yet another pastoral Pope. The cardinals were telling us this is what they wanted to see.

But, in fact, we have a Pope who, of course, is pastoral in nature, but not quite in the same degree that John Paul II is -- was during his Papacy. I think that is an idea, too, that this is a contrast in styles. And we've seen it on a day like today when you see this is the first time in six years when we've seen these kind of crowds come out.

Once again, it's the same person bringing them out, John Paul II.

MANN: Do we have any sense from within the Vatican walls of what these two men were like together? It's hard to see them as jovial friends slapping them on the back. I somehow doubt we know that kind of detail. But do we know about their relationship?

BITTERMANN: Well, the thing you could easily forget about John Paul II is that he had a very deeply spiritual and intellectual side. While yes, he was, as John Allen called him earlier, the fact is, too, that he was deeply thoughtful and intellectual in nature.

And I think that Cardinal Ratzinger appealed to that to a large extent, because he, too, was a real intellectual and today is a real intellectual. And I think to the two men sort of admired what they stood for, what each of them stood for.

So I don't think there was any backslapping going on. I don't think it was anything like that. I think it was a kind of mutual admiration that revolved around sort of the thought process and intellectual process on spiritual matters that both men shared, I think.

MANN: If you're joining us, we are watching live from St. Peter's Square the beatification mass honoring -- proclaiming John Paul II as a blessed servant of God. It was six years ago that John Paul passed away and his successor Benedict XVI took the altar. And in that time, the process -- the path to sainthood has been opened as quickly as the Vatican can do it.

He is not the most rapidly beatified figure. He would not be the most rapidly sainted figure. But you can argue about the details. This is happening about as quickly as it ever has.

John Paul 11 who still draws enormous reverence and love and devotion. You're looking there at pictures from a short time ago as the nun who credits him with curing her Parkinson's Disease bore a relic, blood that was drawn from John Paul II during his lifetime for medical purposes, but never used, as that blood was presented to Benedict XVI. It

's a rite -- it's a ritual that dates back to the earliest days of the church, venerating the relics of saints and holy people. On the right of your screen, you can see that as it unfolded just a short time ago.

On the upper left of your screen, you can see John Paul II's coffin, which was removed from its underground grotto at St. Peter's Basilica. It is now in front of the main altar. And pilgrims will be invited in in the hours and days to come, to approach it and be close to it.

One more physical, tangible sign of the millions of people who wanted and who still want to be close to this man.

BENEDICT XVI, THE POPE: e was fully aware that the Council's decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life.

A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John was taken up in the Episcopal and later the Papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyla: a golden cross with the letter "M" on the lower right and the motto "Totus tuus", drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyla found a guiding light for his life:

"Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria - I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart"

In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: "When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, said to me: 'The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium'". And the Pope added: "I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church -- and especially with the whole episcopate -- I feel indebted.

I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate".

And what is this "cause"? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter's Square in the unforgettable words: "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!"

What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan, a strength which came to him from God, a tide which appeared irreversible.

Now Pope Benedict speaks in the Polish language.

By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty.

To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man.

MANN: The homily of Benedict XVI at the beatification mass of John Paul II, six years after his death. The late Carol Wojtyla, John Paul II, is proclaimed blessed by the Pope and by the church, one step closer to sainthood.

You're watching live pictures now from Rome, a crowd of more than a million people crowding and spilling out of St. Peter's square. So many people, the biggest crowd we have seen there since John Paul II's death.

For Catholics around the world, for people who have been so fired up by this man and by this memory, a vindication, I suppose you could say, but certainly an important day. A day we have seen tears in their eyes, a day we have seen so pilgrims from Europe, from Poland, from around the world, a day we have seen so many people celebrating the memory of this man.

As we watch this, we are joined now by Thomas Groome, a theologian at Boston College. What are your thoughts as you see this?

THOMAS GROOME, BOSTON COLLEGE: Well, it's obviously a day of great celebration. It's a wonderful event. Many Catholics throughout the world rejoicing in this moment, and indeed many people outside the Catholic church rejoicing, as well.

Clearly John Paul with great charisma was much loved by Catholics. And, of course, for many people the only Pope they have known. He was Pope for 27 years. So he leaves a rich legacy and this is a day to celebrate his life.

MANN: There are people who say that as remarkable as he was, he -- well he might not really be best remembered this way, that this is too soon, that there's so much still uncertain about how he led the church and how he treated, frankly, some of its overlooked members, the victims of sexual abuse, the women who feel he was never entirely fair to them, many other Catholics who were never entirely comfortable with the doctrine that he proclaimed.

GROOME: Well, yes. He's not beyond ambiguity and somewhat of a symbol of contradiction for many Catholics, especially. In some way, he was a better Pope for the world than he was for the church, because he certainly made a great contribution to the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and so on.

But many of the controversies that beset the Catholic church at this time, there were lots of good responsible Catholic people who would said he did not give us the kind of leadership that we needed at the time, especially, as you mentioned, in addressing the sex abuse scandal.

I think it's a common perception that he was not as aggressive in addressing that issue, in encouraging bishops throughout the world to address that issue. And not simply to respond to it, but actually to ask the questions why was it happening and why was it allowed to continue happening at such a rate that indeed it's so often the morning paper story about another sex abuse scandal.

And they never quite got the seriousness of that.

There are responsible people that would say he never quite embraced the spirit of renewal and reform that was launched by the second Vatican council, that, in some ways, he launched a reform of the reforms and led us backwards rather than forward.

So he's not without controversy. And in that sense, the church is taking a risk, perhaps, in moving so quickly to beatify him. The church is 2,000 years old and has learned lots of wisdom from its experience over those years.

One of the wisdom was to let history settle a while and let history be a judge. So before we raise up somebody to the altar for veneration and admiration and imitation -- the good John Paul undoubtedly has gone home to God. He's among the communions of saints.

But should we raise him up with this type of beatification then quickly, probably soon thereafter, canonization? That's a much more complex question. I think there would have been a wisdom in waiting and allowing history to have its say and to let the dust settle a bit.

But Pope Benedict XVI decided to move it forward very quickly. And this indeed is what's happening.

MANN: It's intriguing because Pope Benedict XVI is regarded as a conservative among the fathers of the church. But the most traditional Catholics have, as well, had some pause about this process for John Paul II.

GROOME: I think the traditionalists were more upset with him because of the kind of inter-religious dialogue that he opened up. I would not at all share that sentiment. I think they're a very small minority voice.

But it's not a question, Jonathan, of being liberal or conservative or traditional. It's a question about being cautious, being wise about this. I mean, somebody like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, they moved forward her beatification equally -- on the fast track as well.

But she will never be a controversial. Whereas John Paul, there will be more questions I think as time progress. He was a wonderful Pope in many ways, and certain, as I said, has gone home to God. So there's nobody doubting that.

It's just that until we know more about the era and the kind of causes he embraced and so on -- anyhow, it's -- there are people, responsible people who wonder about the wisdom of moving so quickly with this beatification.

MANN: Thomas Groome of Boston College, I'm going to ask you to stay with us. We're going to bring in our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, who has been watching all of this unfold.

John, let me ask you in particular about the sexual abuse crisis within the church. Our guest, Thomas Groome, has said the church has never been under more public scrutiny and more public critique than it was during his Papacy. How much can you say in a moment or two about how much John Paul was to blame?

ALLEN: Well, John, I think that continues to be a debated question. I think critics of John Paul II would say that he has to bear a fair share of the responsibility, that this is a crisis, probably the most serious crisis to rock the Catholic church maybe since the Protestant reformation five centuries ago, and that it metastasized on his watch.

What his admirers and the people who worked most closely with him would say is that this is a man who deeply believed in the Catholic priesthood, who re-energized catholic priesthood, who raised a generation of priests of integrity, and that, you know, unfortunately, the sexual abuse crisis really exploded in full public form only towards the end of his Papacy, when he had incomplete information and, of course, was already in the grip of his disease.

They would go on to say, however, that he did kick start a process of reform in 2001 that has come to full flower under his successor and former right hand man, Benedict XVI. So in a nutshell, John, I think this is a debate about John Paul's record on the sex abuse crisis that is not going to be resolved today.

MANN: One thing that's also being said -- and I'm curious to hear from both of you about this, which is the church is saying that it's the man, not the Pope who's being beatified.

John Allen, can you draw the line that way?

ALLEN: Well, it's a very tricky distinction, isn't it? I mean, on the one hand, the Vatican always says that when a Pope is beatified or canonized, it's not the same thing as ratifying every policy choice of his Papacy. Back in 2000, when they beatified Pope Pius IX, they made it very clear that this was not an endorsement of Pius' Jewish policy, which very famously included heading the Jew of Rome back into their ghetto and refusing to return a Jewish child to his parents after he had been secretly baptized.

On the other hand, in the official decree for John Paul's beatification, they actually cited several episodes from his Pontificate as proof of his pontificate. So I think the standard, John, not so much did a Pope get everything right. I think the question is whether he zigged or zagged, whether his prudential judgment was correct or not.

Was there a palpable integrity and holiness of life underlying all of that. It is clearly saying that the answer with John Paul II is yes.

MANN: Thomas Groome, please go ahead.

GROOME: Pardon?

MANN: Does the distinction make sense?

GROOME: Clearly, he was a very wonderful man, a good man, a holy man and has gone home to God. Indeed, John Allen is right with what he says there.

But he is being canonized as Pope. If he was my father or your father, he would not be being canonized today. He's being canonized because of his visibility as Pope, because of the things he did while he was Pope.

Now, even if he made some mistakes, even if he -- I mean, you get canonized not because you were perfect. You get canonized because you were a human being who lived a fine life. So in that sense, John Paul gives hope to everybody because, in a sense, you can make mistakes and still be indeed venerated as a saint and go home to God, and we can all be assured of that.

But I mean, his legacy is as Pope. He has to be evacuated that way. And I don't know how else to talk about it, other than to say that yes, he is being -- of course, the person is being venerated and canonized -- beatified. But it's clearly because of his good connections in Rome that this is happening today.

MANN: Let me ask you on that very subject, in fact, how many Popes do end up ending -- after their lives end up at saints? Not to be glib about it, but is this, frankly, a final promotion that every Pope could expect and that Benedict XVI might on this day expect?

GROOME: Well, the pattern hasn't been to canonize every Pope. In fact, one of the Popes that has been leapfrogged over by beatifying John Paul so quickly is Pope John XXIII, who'd be a much less controversial figure at this point in time.

But there have been lots of Popes that have not been canonized. It shouldn't simply be a pattern that if you're a Pope, you are automatically going to be a saint. Indeed, the history of the Papacy indicates that lots of the Popes were far from sainthood and never would deserve that honor.

In a sense, doing this so quickly is an endorsement of his Papacy. And of course, Pope Benedict is leading the charge in that regard.

MANN: Very much so. Thomas Groome of Boston College, thanks so much for being with us.

GROOME: You're welcome.

MANN: We're going to ask you to stay with us as we continue our extensive coverage of the beatification mass of John Paul II, an extraordinary day in Rome. We'll be back after this.



MANN: John Paul II is beatified by Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic Church. Our extensive coverage continues live from Rome. You're looking at images just a moment ago, as a tapestry bearing his likeness made from a photograph taken in 1995, was unveiled.

And in front of the main altar, St. Peter's Basilica, his remains brought up from the underground grotto beneath the Basilica and ready now for the pilgrims who will be invited to approach and pray in its presence's.

More than a million people, it would seem, from our best estimate, are crowded into Rome on this day, an enormous crowd in and spilling out of St. Peter's Square. There, a remarkable moment in while, the nun from France who says that prayer to John Paul II cured her of incurable Parkinson's that had left her basically unable to do most anything.

Well, one day she picked up a pen and at the urging of her mother superior, simply wrote John Paul II's name of a piece of paper. She could barely write at that point. The next day, she was cured. And on this day, she bears a vile of his blood taken during his lifetime for use in a transfusion that was ultimately never performed, blood that has been saved perhaps with a day like this in mind.

That is in that remarkable vile with the olive branch fashioned around it. That relic presented on this day, as well, for that enormous crowds. Look at all those flags, Polish flags, but flags from communities around the world, people touched by John Paul basically everywhere on the planet.

So many people -- so Many Catholics have prayed for his intercession. We hear their testimony all the time. In fact, that nun's testimony was evidence to the church's eyes of a miracle. With one more miracle, John Paul II can be proclaimed a saint. You're looking at live pictures once again. Our attention, of course, on this day is in Rome, but that Pope was a son of Poland, the first Polish Pontiff.

Diana Magnay is in Krakow. And I can't imagine what it would be like to be there today, but do tell us.

MAGNAY: People are very, very excited about this day, despite the pouring rain. They're still out by the thousands. And we were earlier down at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow where there are around 50,000 people listening to the mass right now.

And that is where on June the 11th, two vial of that blood that you spoke of will be brought as relics to a newly built John Paul II center there and will be interred there as relics for people to come and worship.

So a huge crowd there. Huge public viewings across Polish cities for this Pope, who people here described as our Pope.

And especially for people in the city of Krakow, where Pope John Paul II spent four decades of his life, they experienced him when he baptized hi, when he gave them communion. So many of them really knew him extremely well.

For them, obviously, this is a very personal day. But I think the point is for Poles, this is a personal moment. They felt that he was their Pope, our Polish Pope, the only Pope not an Italian since St. Peter, a Pope whose election really meant that Polish people for the first time felt they could, in a way, shrug off the occupation of first the Germans and the occupation of the Soviets, that they had a right to be recognized by the outside world as Polish.

And when he came to this country, really gave them a sense of their confidence back. And that all plays into the deep feeling and emotions that people are feeling today.

MANN: Diana Magnay in Krakow. We're going to go back live to the Vatican. Once again, the mass continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- who was responsible, as the postulator for this cause, to gather and collect all of the information. It was presented to the congregation for the causes for the saints.

The documentation is contained in what's called a prusitzio (ph). And John Paul's prusitzio takes up four huge volumes, including testimony from bishops, priests, religious laymen and women, even heads of state and political leaders.

In December 2009, Pope Benedict XVI honored John Paul with the title venerable. When all the --

MANN: Thomas Groome, theologian, joining us once again from Boston.

Within the church now, what does the blessed John Paul II represent? For Catholics,, what role will he play now in the lives of the living?

GROOME: Well, for people who want to pray to him, I mean, they can officially do so. Of course, in Catholic theology, we don't actually pray to the saints. We ask the saints to pray for us, because only God can answer our prayers.

In the church, when we see the litany of the saints, it's always St. Joseph or St. Catherine, pray for us, pray for us. Even when we pray to Mary, we see Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us.

So we ask the saints to intercede for us. I just as I could ask my mother, when she was living -- mom, say a prayer for me today. I've got an exam or a worry or a care. I can say to her this morning, mom, say a prayer for me. And I know she's in the presence of God and can pray with me and take my prayer to God.

So we think that the saint's prayers are effective on our behalf. In a sense, he now joins the great communion of saints and is recognized. And people can officially pray to him.

Beatification traditionally has meant that the devotion is more localized to a particular diocese, say to the diocese of Krakow. And then when you're sainted, it becomes a universal feast throughout the whole world.

But those distinctions with the kind of communication media we have now and so on are basically broken down. So, in a sense, to be beatified, to be canonized are pretty much the same thing, except for one miracle in between.

MANN: And I think a great many Catholics around the world think that is frankly inevitable and still to come. Thomas Groome of Boston College, thank you so much for joining us.

GROOME: Thank you.

MANN: Let's bring you live pictures once again of the ceremony under way, john Paul II, 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, is beatified, proclaimed as a blessed servant of God.

Just a short moment ago, his portrait, a tapestry, unveiled in St. Peter's Square before the enormous crowd gathered there. Benedict XVI, his successor, having read the proclamation of his beatification.

And there, once again, an image that will stay with us, a relic, a vial of his blood presented to Benedict XVI by the nun who said his intercession cured her of incurable Parkinson's Disease, a miracle that was required to be attested so that on this day John Paul II could be beatified.

A blessed Pope, John Paul II, remembered, honored, revered and venerated in Rome.