I would like to know if it is permissible to have as a signature on my outgoing email the following prayer: “John Paul II the Great, pray for us.” At first I thought it would be okay as a means of vox populi in proclaiming him to be great as well as asking his intercession, but then had second thoughts. Since it is going out in my email, it was really becoming a public prayer and may not be permitted. Could you clarify? Also, if it is not permissible, how can I proclaim him to be great without asking for his prayerful intercession?
The term public prayer refers to the corporate prayers of the Church. Thus, unless and until he is beatified, John Paul II will not be included in the liturgical prayers of the Mass and should not be included as an intercessor in parish-sponsored private devotions (e.g., the parish rosary). At this point, such public prayers should only pray for the repose of his soul; they should not presume to pray to him as Catholics do to the canonized saints and blesseds.
However, in private prayers, a person could certainly pray for the intercession of a deceased loved one that he reasonably assumes died in God’s friendship. After all, the miracles that are investigated in the canonization process are the results of such private prayers for intercession. In such private prayers and devotions, it is certainly fine to include titles that seem fitting, presuming that one remains open to correction by the Church later should such correction be forthcoming.
In short, there is nothing wrong with including the line “John Paul the Great, pray for us!” in your email signature.