John Paul II a step closer to sainthood

Pope John Paul II waves to the crowd during a joint May Day and Workers' Jubilee celebrations on the Tor Vergata University grounds in the outskirts of Rome, Monday, May 1, 2000. AP Photo

VATICAN CITYPope John Paul II has moved a step closer to sainthood.

A Vatican official says a commission of theologians approved a miracle attributed to his intercession, clearing a key hurdle. The case now goes to a commission of cardinals and then Pope Francis.

John Paul's canonization is possible in autumn to coincide with the 35th anniversary of his election, though the official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to reveal details about the case that it may be too soon.

The Polish-born pope has been on the fast track for sainthood ever since retired Pope Benedict XVI waived the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the investigation into his life and virtues to begin just weeks after his 2005 death. Benedict was responding to chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Immediately" which erupted during John Paul's funeral. John Paul was beatified in 2011.

Vatican officials have insisted that the saint-making process isn't a judgment of how John Paul administered the church but rather whether he lived a life of Christian virtue.

Vatican officials said at the time of his beatification that reports of inexplicable cures were pouring into the Vatican, suggesting that it's only a matter of time before John Paul is declared a saint or even a doctor of the church, an even greater honor.

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