Pope Benedict leads memorial mass for John Paul
Vatican City, Apr 4: Pope Benedict yesterday said a mass of remembrance for Pope John Paul II and thanked his predecessor for possessing the towering strength and uncompromising faith that helped the Church in troubled times.
The mass to pray for the late Pope was held a day after pilgrims from around the world held a candlelight vigil to mark the moment when John Paul died on the evening of April 2, 2005.
John Paul, Benedict said in his sermon, had a ''faith that was convinced, strong and authentic, free of fear and compromises, that was contagious for the hearts of so many people.'' The late Pope, who served for nearly 27 years, was a ''rock in the faith'' despite having gone through a ''crucible'' because of his responsibilities and later, his illnesses, Benedict said.
Among the cardinals who attended the mass was Stanislaw Dziwisz, the man who was John Paul's private secretary for decades and is now the archbishop of Krakow, Poland.
Many of the pilgrims who came to Rome for the three days of anniversary commemorations said they would be praying that the late Pope could be made a saint soon.
Several in the crowd at last night's vigil held up a banner reading ''Santo Subito'' (''Make him a saint now''), a repeat of banners held aloft at his funeral almost a year ago.
Last May, Pope Benedict put his predecessor on the fast track to sainthood by dispensing with Church rules that normally impose a five-year waiting period after a candidate's death before the procedure that leads to sainthood can even start.
Church officials are investigating the healing of a French nun whose symptoms of Parkinson's disease disappeared after she and fellow nuns prayed to the Pope.
This may be the miracle the Church would need to beatify the Pope, the last step before sainthood.