Poles Joyful Over Beatification of John Paul II

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Polish pilgrims are flocking to Rome to witness the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

They are already calling him John Paul the Great.

The ceremony will take place on Sunday, but the Roman Catholic faithful are already gathering in St. Peter's Square, where giant television screens have been mounted.

Workers have finished putting up the scaffolding to hold television crews from all over the world.

Beatification is the last formal step before possible sainthood for John Paul. But the mayor of the Polish town where the late pope was born says the people there already consider him to be a saint.

"For us, in fact, the Holy Father was already a saint during his lifetime, and after his death even more," said Ewa Filipiak, the mayor of Wadowice, the small town in southern Poland where Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, was born.

Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz this week called the beatification a historic moment and predicted that the late pontiff will go down in history as "Pope John Paul II the Great."

Many Poles credit John Paul for his role in inspiring Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement, a catalyst in the toppling of communism in Poland.

However, some of John Paul's countrymen also criticize what they consider an unthinking adoration of a man who has come under scrutiny elsewhere for the crimes and cover-ups of the clerical sex abuse scandal that occurred during his 27-year papacy.

Carl A. Anderson, the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, recently spoke to CBN News about the beatification of John Paul II and what it means to the world's Roman Catholics.


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