John Paul sainthood 'only matter of time'

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The late Pope John Paul II is certain to be beatified and then canonized a saint, said a visiting cardinal who has a hand in the decision.

"It's only a matter of time," said Cardinal Francis Arinze, speaking Wednesday night at a benefit dinner on Mount Washington for the Apostolate for Family Consecration. The cardinal, 73, a top-ranking Vatican official, spends summer vacation at the group's headquarters in Bloomingdale, Ohio, making video and audio teaching tapes on Catholic doctrine.

At the dinner he spoke about the "five pillars of the family" -- understanding God's call, family prayer time, Mass as the center of life, genuine love and parental responsibility for teaching the children. He also fielded questions from the 125 guests, including an inquiry about Pope John Paul's cause for sainthood.

Although he runs the Vatican's office on liturgy, he has a vote in the Congregation for Saints and is privy to the process. He said he could not discuss details, but added that he has already been interviewed about his own perceptions of a pope with whom he worked closely. The inquiry into whether the late pope lived a life of "heroic virtue" will take time simply because all of his voluminous writings must be reviewed, Cardinal Arinze said.

One miracle -- after invoking the late pope's prayers for a hopeless medical condition -- is required for beatification. A second will be required for canonization.

He reminded his audience that canonization is simply a formal declaration by the church that someone is in heaven.

"We [at the Vatican] do not decide who goes to heaven, but we decide who is canonized down here," said Cardinal Arinze, a native of Nigeria.

The dinner also honored John Donahue, founder of Federated Investors, and his wife Rhodora, parents of 13, grandparents of 81 and great-grandparents of 15. They are devout Catholics whose family has produced a young crop of priests and sisters.

Their son Christopher, president and CEO of Federated, drew many laughs as he explained how his parents succeeded at passing on the Catholic faith.

His father's high standards were tempered by love and experience, he said, noting that he had to abide by many rules.

"I was the first son. By the time the last son rolled around, there were no rules. He was not really the last son. He was the first grandson," he said.

But he explained the enduring marriages of his nine sisters by Grandy's Rule: Never go on a second date with a man unless convinced he would be a good husband and father.


Ann Rodgers can be reached at arodgers@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416.


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