The beatification of Pope John Paul II explains more about us than it does about him. The chants of “Santo subito!” at his funeral came from people who loved him deeply. They may or may not have agreed with any particular decision of his as Pope. They may have supported or opposed the general thrust of his pontificate, reaching out to the world at the same time as he demanded greater conformity within the Church. Still, the shouts came: “Santo subito!” Pope John Paul II was loved, even by those who were ambivalent about his pontificate.
The other day, a young woman with whom I work spoke of being moved to tears when she first saw Pope John Paul II in person. It was his personal magnetism and human approachability that so moved her. “For me, there was something so human about him,” she told me. She disavowed any sense of hero-worship and knew the late Pontiff did not work on water. But, she loved him. This love for Pope John Paul II certainly justifies his being raised to the honor of the altars as far as I am concerned but, then, I am nearly a Universalist who believes we must hold on to the hope that we all will get to heaven.