Pope Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, before a crowd of one million Sunday morning, as the sun shined brightly on St. Peter's Square. The beatification was the fastest in modern times and brought the late pontiff closer to possible sainthood. Pope Benedict XVI hailed Pope John Paul II for having helped turn the "irreversible" tide against Marxism with his courage and faith which in turn "helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian." The crowd roared as a picture of John Paul was unveiled over the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, crying and cheering as a choir began singing a hymn associated with the Polish-born pope. "He went all over the world," said an emotional bishop from Mali who visited Rome for the occasion. "Today, we're coming to him." The beatification was a bright moment for Italy's Catholic Church, which has been marred by sex-abuse charges, including some from during John Paul II's 27-year reign.
BLESSED AP Photo