Joaquin Navarro-Valls has said Pope Benedict XVI could announce the beatification of Pope John Paul II as early as this year.
In an interview today with the Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, John Paul II’s former press spokesman added to recent comments from Vatican officials who have said recent events won’t prevent the cause from going forward.
Navarro-Valls said two key “technical” steps — the decree on heroic virtues given by the cardinals and bishops of the congregation and the publication of the decree on a miracle (not attributed to natural causes) — are currently missing, but “may come this year.”
“At that point,” he added, “the Pope can decide the date of the proclamation of beatification, but he can do so at any time.”
He was speaking after the Italian press reported that over 55 years worth of correspondence between John Paul and a psychiatrist friend, Wanda Poltawska, had come to light and could delay the process. All the documentation is likely to be examined by the Vatican.
“To me, the process won’t be lengthened,” Navarro-Valls said. “Certainly, for the sake of integrity, the documents will be included in the work, but the process goes on; it won’t stop.”
He added that he ‘‘did not see this great friendship,’’ which Poltawska claims to have shared with the late Pope.’ ‘I exclude, 1,000%, that [Poltawska] could have influenced the Pope’s decisions,’’ Navarro-Valls said.
However, what could still delay the process is the refusal of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s secretary of State under John Paul, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Cardinal Sodano’s deputy at the time, to give testimony to the cause. They are said to be uneasy at the speed of the beatification process, according to reports.