Following the penitential act of the Mass of Beatification, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of the Pontiff for the Diocese of Rome, joined Benedict XVI, along with the postulator for the cause of beatification, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, and asked that the beatification of the Servant of God, John Paul II, might proceed:
Vicarius Generalis Sanctitatis Vestrae
pro Romana Dioecesi,
humillime a Sanctitate Vestra petit
ut Venerabilem Servum Dei
Ioannem Paulum II, papam,
numero Beatorum adscribere
[Most blessed Father, Your Holiness' Vicar General for the Diocese for Rome humbly asks your Holiness to beneficently deign to inscribe the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II in the number of the Blessed.]
(He then read a brief biography of the Polish Pontiff)
Karol Józef Wojtyla was born in the Polish town of Wadowice on 18 May 1920 to Karol and Emilia Kaczorowska. He was baptized on 20 June of that year in Wadowice's parish church.
The second of two children, the joy and serenity of his childhood was shaken by the premature death of his mother when Karol was nine (1929). Three years later, in 1932, his older brother Edmund also died and then in 1941, when he was 21, he also lost his father.
Brought up in a solid patriotic and religious tradition, he learned from his father, a deeply Christian man, piety and love for one's neighbor, which he nourished with constant prayer and participation in the sacraments.
The characteristics of his spirituality, to which he remained faithful until his death, were a sincere devotion to the Holy Spirit and love for the Madonna. His relationship with the Mother of God was particularly deep and vibrant, lived with the tenderness of a child who abandons himself to his mother's embrace and with the vigor of a gallant, always ready for his lady's command: "Do what my Son asks!" His complete trust in Mary, which as a bishop he expressed with the motto Totus tuus, also reveals his secret of looking at the world with the eyes of the Mother of God.
Young Karol's rich personality matured with the interweaving of his intellectual, moral, and spiritual gifts with the events of his day, which marked the history of his country and of Europe.
During the years of his secondary education, a passion for theatre and poetry grew in him, which he cultivated in the theatrical group of the Faculty of Philology at Krakow's Jagiellonian University where he was enrolled during the 1938 academic year.
During the period of Nazi occupation of Poland, together with his studies that he carried on in secret, he spent four years (October 1940 to August 1944) working in the Solvay chemical factory, directly encountering the social problems of the working world and gathering the precious wealth of experience that he was able to draw upon in his future social teachings, first as Archbishop of Krakow and subsequently as Supreme Pontiff.
Throughout these years his inclination towards the priesthood developed, a path he furthered by attending clandestine courses in theology at the Seminary of Krakow from October of 1942. He was assisted greatly in recognizing his priestly vocation by a lay man, Jan Tyranowski, a true apostle of youth. From then on the young Karol had a clear understanding of the universal call to holiness of all Christians, and the fundamental role of the laity in the mission of the Church.
He received priestly ordination on 1 November 1946 and the day after, in the evocative atmosphere of the crypt of St. Leonard in the cathedral of Wawel, he celebrated his first Mass.
He was sent to Rome to complete his theological formation at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), where he was immersed in the source of sound doctrine, having his first encounter with the vibrancy and richness of the Universal Church from the privileged position of life on the other side of the 'Iron Curtain'. At around this time he met with Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
After graduating with highest honors in June of 1948, he returned to Krakow to begin his pastoral duties as a parish vicar. He undertook his ministry with enthusiasm and generosity. After obtaining his university teaching qualification, he began teaching in the Faculty of Theology at the Jagiellonian University then, when that faculty was closed, in the diocesan Seminary of Krakow and the Catholic University of Lublin.
The years he spent in the company of young students enabled him to gain a profound understanding of the restlessness of their hearts and the young priest was a not only a teacher for them, but also a spiritual guide and friend.
At the age of 38 he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Krakow. On 28 September 1958, he was ordained a bishop by Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak, whom he succeeded as archbishop of Krakow in 1964. He was created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI on 26 June 1967.
As bishop of the Diocese of Krakow, he was immediately appreciated as a man of robust and courageous faith, close to the people and aware of the real problems they faced.
He was an interlocutor capable of listening and of dialogue without ever conceding to compromise. He affirmed to all the primacy of God and of Christ as the foundation for a true humanism and the source of inalienable human rights. Beloved by his priests and esteemed by his brother bishops, he was also feared by those who regarded him as an adversary.
On 16 October 1978 he was elected Bishop and Pontiff of Rome and took the name of John Paul II. His shepherd's heart, entirely given over to the cause of the Kingdom of God, was opened to the entire world. "Christ's love" led him to visit the parishes of Rome and to announce the Gospel in all places. It was the driving force for his innumerable apostolic visits to various continents, undertaken to confirm his Christian brothers and sisters in the faith, to comfort the afflicted and the discouraged, to bring the message of reconciliation between Christian faiths, and to build bridges of friendship between believers in the one God and all of good will.
His illustrious teachings focused on nothing other than proclaiming Christ, the sole Savior of humanity, always and everywhere.
In his extraordinary missionary zeal, he had a particular love for the young. He envisioned the World Youth Day gatherings with the objective of announcing Jesus Christ and his Gospel to the new generations in order to enable them to actively shape their future and to co-operate in building a better world.
His solicitude as universal Shepherd was demonstrated in the convocation of numerous assemblies of the Synods of Bishops, the erection of dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions, in the promulgation of the Codes of Canon Law for the Latin and Eastern Churches and the catechism of the Catholic Church, and in the publication of encyclical letters and apostolic exhortations. In order to promote occasions for a more intense spiritual life for the People of God, he proclaimed the extraordinary Jubilee of Redemption, the Marian Year, the Year of the Eucharist, and the Great Jubilee of 2000.
John Paul II had lived through the tragic experience of two dictatorships, survived an assassination attempt on 13 May 1981 and, in his later years, suffered grave physical hardship due to the progression of his illness. However, his overwhelming optimism, based on his trust in divine Providence, drove him to constantly look to horizons of hope, inviting people to break down the walls between them, to brush aside passivity in order to attain the goals of spiritual, moral and material renewal.
He concluded his long and fruitful earthly existence in the Vatican Apostolic Palace on Saturday, 2 April 2005, the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter (Dominica in Albis), which he entitled the Sunday of Divine Mercy. The funeral was held in St. Peter's Square on 8 April 2005.
A touching testimony of the good he brought about during his life was seen by the participation of delegations from all over the world and of millions of men and women, believers and non-believers alike, who recognized in him a clear sign of God's love for humanity.
Cardinal Vallini concluded by thanking the Pope with the following words:
Vicarius Sanctitatis Vestrae
pro Romana Dioecesi,
gratias ex animo Sanctitati Vestrae agit
quod titulum Beati
Venerabili Servo Dei
Ioanni Paulo II, papae
Conferre dignatus es.
(Most Blessed Father, the Vicar General of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome gives heartfelt thanks to Your Holiness for conferring the title of Blessed to the venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II.)