VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI says that all those who knew or admired John Paul II share his joy about the late pontiff's upcoming beatification.
Benedict announced last week that he will beatify his predecessor on May 1 in St. Peter's Square in Rome. Beatification is the last major step before a Catholic can be considered for possible sainthood.
The ceremony, a week after Easter, is expected to draw as many as 2 million people.
Many pilgrims are expected from John Paul's homeland of Poland. Benedict told faithful in the square Sunday that Poles are especially eager for the beatification because John Paul helped guide them toward freedom. The papacy of the first Polish-born pope is credited with helping to end decades of Soviet-bloc communism.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.