London, May 23: Pope John Paul II could ascent to sainthood by next spring, possibly in time for the fourth anniversary of his death, a cardinal at the Vatican predicts. Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Polish priest who is in charge of arguing John Paul's case for sainthood, made the prediction. While on a visit to the island of Ischia, Mgr Oder said that he hoped the beatification would happen "by the spring of 2009, having already consigned the positio". The "positio" is a 2,000-page folder containing all the documents testifying to John Paul's holiness. At the time of his death, many of his admirers called for John Paul to be "santo subito", immediately sainted.
If he is made "blessed" next year, it will be the fastest beatification ever. The process to elevate Mother Teresa took five years. There has been speculation that the late pope could be beatified on April 2, the anniversary of his death. He was made a "Servant of God", the first of the three steps on the path of sainthood, on April 2, 2007.
However, the Vatican was quick to play down Mgr Oder's claim.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said the rigorous steps towards becoming a saint meant it was not possible to make such a prediction.
"Everything depends on the way in which the developments of his case proceed," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"After we have the positio, there is a survey by historians, by theologians, by doctors and then the exam by the cardinals.
"We could have it done by that time, perhaps before, perhaps after," he added.