John Paul II's case is an exceptional one, of course. He was a media Pope, a "superstar" to some, globally known and loved, and his popularity has not ebbed since his death two years ago. Left to the people, he would have been canonized when chants of "Santo Subito" or "Sainthood Now" erupted during his funeral. Canon law normally only allows a beatification process to begin five years after a candidate's death, but this was waived by Pope Benedict XVI in John Paul II's favour. Public devotion to the former pontiff has put pressure on the Vatican to start the canonization process, and I wonder if this is reflective of the trend in our society for instant gratification.
There's no doubt that John Paul II has received popular acclaim. Even Pope Benedict XVI has referred to him as "the Great." And in the early Church, saints were canonized by popular acclaim. There is much to be gained by waiting, though, and for the sake of those who are less enthusiastic about speeding up the process, I am glad to see the Church is going to respect Canon Law and slow the process to abide by her usual procedures.
"The modern church has always been very prudent in beatifying popes," said Vaticanologist and author Giancarlo Zizola. "The papacy doesn't want to put its credibility at risk with halos handed out today and criticised tomorrow."
It is important for many reasons not to rush things. After all, what's the hurry?