May we call him "St. John Paul II"?


Would it be improper to refer to our recently departed pope as “St. John Paul II”?

It is my understanding that some saints such as St. Francis of Assisi were called saints even when they were alive.


Until a person is canonized by the Church, a Catholic should be careful not to presume to informally “canonize” anyone, even someone whom we have reason to hope may well be in heaven. As for calling people saints during their lives, it was understood in two ways. One, the New Testament writers often refer to Christians as “saints” in hopeful anticipation of their eternal destiny. And two, even today there is the informal usage of calling a particularly holy person a “living saint” (as both Mother Teresa and John Paul II were called during their lifetimes). Such a usage is understood to be conditional in that the person in question appears to be living a holy life but his eternal destiny is not set until his death.

In short, no, it would not be proper to call John Paul II “St. John Paul II” until the Church officially determines it possible to do so. On the positive side though, our new Holy Father Benedict XVI announced today (May 13) that he is waiving the five-year waiting period before John Paul’s canonization process may begin. God willing, we may soon be able to call John Paul “St. John Paul II” in union with the Church.

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