Pope Benedict XVI moved his beloved predecessor one step closer to sainthood on Friday, confirming a miracle by John Paul II and setting May 1, the first Sunday after Easter, as the date of his beatification.
The designation means he is considered “blessed” and can be publicly venerated. Sainthood would follow after the confirmation of one more miracle.
Thousands are expected to attend the beatification ceremony. Benedict is expected to celebrate the Mass himself, a much-needed bright spot in his papacy, which in recent months has been weathering a sexual abuse scandal in Europe and violence against Christians in the Middle East.