Sainthood Judge Vows Objectivity

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)
The so-called "devil's advocate" in Pope John Paul II's beatification process, who must investigate any possible doubts about the late pontiff's saintliness, pledged Monday to remain objective but hinted that he supported the cause.

The Rev. Giuseppe D'Alonzo, the promoter of justice in the Diocese of Rome, said he was neither for nor against beatification for the late pope, whom many considered a saint even before he died April 2.

"It's not for me to decide," D'Alonzo said in an interview with The Associated Press in his office, which had a photo of the late pope on the wall. "I must verify the truth."

But when asked his personal opinion about John Paul's merits, he conceded: "It's the opinion that ordinary people have, simple people who we all saw in St. Peter's Square when there was the funeral Mass."

D'Alonzo was apparently referring to the chants of "Santo subito!" or "Sainthood immediately!" that erupted from the crowd during John Paul's April 8 funeral — calls that prompted new Pope Benedict XVI to waive the traditional five-year waiting period and allow John Paul's saint-making process to begin right away.

The cause officially opens Tuesday, when D'Alonzo and all the other officials involved take an oath to keep their proceedings secret and not accept "any type of gift" that might corrupt the process.

John Paul himself dispensed with the title of the "devil's advocate" in 1983. The move raised some questions about whether he was merely removing any potential obstacles to his desire to give the faithful as many role models as possible.

John Paul beatified and canonized more people than all his predecessors in the last 500 years combined.