ROME – Pope John Paul II’s closest aide said Saturday that he hoped the late pontiff would be made a saint during World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany next month.
“Everything is possible, but I don’t know if it would be opportune,” Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz told the Associated Press in an interview. But he said the Cologne setting would be perfect because “no one loved young people like the pope and they loved him.”
“It would be wonderful for a German pope to canonize a Polish pope in Cologne,” he said.
Dziwisz also said Pope Benedict XVI will visit Poland next spring. “He has promised it,” he said.
So far, Benedict has only one confirmed foreign trip on his calendar, the Aug. 18-21 visit to Cologne.
Speculation has been swirling about whether he might beatify John Paul during the World Youth Day celebrations – placing the late pope on an even faster track to possible sainthood. Already, Benedict waived the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to officially begin just three months after John Paul died April 2.
Dziwisz, John Paul’s trusted private secretary, specified that he wanted John Paul canonized – not just beatified – during the Cologne visit.
Asked if Benedict might declare John Paul a martyr – which would spare the Vatican from having to find and confirm a miracle attributed to John Paul – Dziwisz responded: “In any case, people want him to be a saint.”
What is important, he said, is a candidate’s “moral rectitude.”
Dziwisz, who has recently been named archbishop of Krakow by Benedict, also confirmed that he disregarded the late pope’s instructions in his will to burn all his personal papers.
Dziwisz said the material was “too important historically,” to destroy and that he intended to make it public bit by bit. He has previously indicated the papers may be useful in the sainthood process.