John Paul II a Step Closer to Sainthood

Pope John Paul II leans on his pastoral staff during his visit to the San Mattia parish church in the outskirts of Rome in this March 14, 1999 file photo.The process to beatify Pope John Paul II _ the first step toward possible sainthood _ has officially begun Monday, May 30, 2005
AP (file)
Pope Benedict XVI has moved Pope John Paul II one step closer to possible beatification, the milestone before sainthood.

Benedict on Saturday approved a decree attesting to John Paul's heroic virtues.

Benedict still must sign off on a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession before the late pope can be beatified.

Benedict put the Polish pontiff on the fast track for sainthood just weeks after his April 2, 2005 death, waiving the customary five-year waiting period and allowing the investigation into John Paul's virtues to begin immediately.

Benedict also approved a decree on the heroic virtues of Pope Pius XII, despite opposition from Jews who say the World War II-era pope didn't do enough to stop the Holocaust.