Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the process of beatifying John Paul II, is about to begin. Speaking to a group of priests meeting in the Basilica of St John Lateran, he said in Italian: "And now I have a very joyous piece of news for you. " He then said in Latin: "The cause for the beatification of John Paul II is open." The Pope then read out a letter from Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, in which it said that Benedict XVI himself had authorised the start of the beatification process. The news was met with a standing ovation. It comes on the anniversary of the assassination attempt on John Paul II in 1981, when he was shot in St Peter's Square by a Turkish gunman. The Pope has waived the usual rules which require a five-year wait before starting the beatification process. Pope John Paul also dispensed with this rule in 2003 when he beatified Mother Teresa. A commission of historians is now being appointed to gather all documents together relating to Pope John Paul II's life, for examination by panels of theologians, and cardinals and bishops. The Church will also be hoping for a miraculous healing that has taken place through the intercession of the late Pope before beatification can take place.
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