Rome Diocese One Step Closer to Sainthood for John Paul II

The Rome diocese has wrapped up its examination of Pope John Paul II's virtues and life, an important step in the Catholic Church's process that could lead to sainthood for the late pontiff.

Rome Cardinal Camillo Ruini said Saturday he had been informed that completion of work by the diocese on the cause for beatification and sainthood will be marked with a ceremony in St. John's Lateran Basilica on April 2 in the capital. The date is the second anniversary of John Paul's death.

All pontiffs serve as bishop of Rome, and so the diocese examined "the life, virtues and reputation for holiness" of the late pope.

Now the Vatican must take up its own examination of the same characteristics, a process which can take years.

Shortly after John Paul's death, with faithful clamoring for quick canonization, Pope Benedict XVI, the pontiff's successor, waived the customary five-year waiting period to open the case for possible sainthood.

Beatification is the last formal step in the process before possible sainthood, and as part of the process, church officials must certify that a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession has occurred. After beatification, another miracle is required for sainthood.

Diocesan level work was also being conducted in Krakow, Poland, where John Paul served as cardinal before becoming pope in 1978.

During the diocesan inquiry, church officials interviewed those who knew the pope and examined documentation.

Benedict will preside at a Mass in memory of John Paul in the late afternoon of April 2 in St. Peter's Basilica.