Pope Benedict Beatifies Pope John Paul II at Vatican Ceremony


"In more than 25 years as the most powerful religious figure on the planet, John Paul II did almost nothing to safeguard kids,'' she said, adding that "most'' abuses happened during his long pontificate.

During his 27-year reign, John Paul II was considered by many to be the "rock star" pope. He was an avid skier and mountain climber, a poet and playwright while at the same time being unashamedly spiritual. His charm and boundless energy inspired the Catholic youth, and a new generation of faithful. At his funeral in 2005, the crowd of millions chanted "Santo Subito" -- "Sainthood Now."

Ahead of the ceremonies, the pope's coffin was carried from its resting place in the Vatican crypt beneath St. Peter's and placed before St. Peter's tomb where pilgrims filed past to pay their respects. A vial of John Paul's blood, taken during the last days before his death, was also put on display.

The beatification Mass was preceded on Saturday by a vigil at the Circus Maximus. Attendees included two of the pontiff's closest confidants, his former Private Secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz, and his press officer for many years, Joaquin Navarro Valls.

Pilgrims gathered in St. Peters Square all weekend, singing religious hymns, praying, and remembering the former pope.

The Vatican said at least 21 heads of state and 87 official delegations from around the world attended the ceremony, including presidents Giorgio Napolitano of Italy, Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland and Felipe Calderon of Mexico.

Catholic Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, who has been widely condemned for human rights abuses for decades, also attended under a special exemption from a European Union travel ban, allowing him to fly into Rome.

John Paul II will not officially be declared a saint until he is canonized, which requires a second miracle after beatification, though a pope may waive these requirements.

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