Youngstown bishop reacts to news of canonizations

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II

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One of the most beloved leaders of the Roman Catholic faith in recent times is about to be made a saint, it was announced by the Vatican on Friday morning.

Youngstown Diocese Bishop George Murry has some strong ties to Pope John Paul II, who appointed Murry a bishop in 1999. Murry said he met the former pope on a number of occasions, including a one-on-one session in 2004, not long before the late Pontiff passed away in April of 2005.

Pope Francis has decided to canonize both Pope John Paul II, as well as Pope John XXIII, who died in 1963 and who convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.

Murry said a key in determining one’s eligibility for sainthood is whether the candidate has lived with what he called “heroic virtue,” and the bishop believes John Paul’s life story of standing up to the Nazi’s as well as his defense of the unborn are examples of that.

“Even in his death, as he struggled, was clearly dying, and he was struggling on because he felt that he had to do this as he said, until the end. There was great heroic virtue, and I think that’s what’s being celebrated,” Murry said.

The Bishop said one of John Paul’s greatest attributes was what he called his “strength of character” and his ability to communicate his ideas with others.

Bishop Murry said in most instances, to become eligible for sainthood, a candidate must have performed at least two miracles and advocates for the candidate must be able to prove their case.

“There’s a commission of cardinals that look at all the evidence and they make a recommendation to the pope that this is in fact a miracle. So it’s not easy, never has been,” he said.

While Pope Francis gave his approval to the second of John Paul’s two miracles on Friday, authorities in the Vatican said the Pope used his own discretion in canonizing John XXIII on his own merits without having to prove a second miracle.

And although some have criticized John Paul’s handling of child sex abuse within the priesthood, Murry credits the Pope with pushing to approve the Vatican’s “Charter for the Protection of Children,” which has led to the removal of a number of clerics from religious life.

“There are always going to be people who are gonna say he didn’t take enough decisive steps or go far enough, but he went further than any other pope up to that point,” Murry said.

No date for the canonization ceremony has been picked yet, but it’s expected to happen before the end of the year.

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