Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, beatified Pope John Paul II on Sunday at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, calling him Blessed, before throngs of faithful, putting the pope who died in 2005 one step from sainthood within the Church.

And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed! Pope Benedict said during his homily.

He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope to be lived in history in an Advent spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace, Pope Benedict said.

The Vatican has identified the cure of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, as having been cured by a miracle from Parkinson's disease after praying to the pope months after his death from complications linked to the disease.

A second miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II is needed before he can be declared a saint.

John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith, Pope Benedict said.

During his homily, Pope Benedict cited some biblical instances where the word blessed is mentioned in the context of St. Peter and the Virgin Mary.

In the first instance, Jesus tells St. Peter he is blessed because God revealed to him that Jesus was the Christ.

Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven, Benedict read, quoting from the book of Matthew.

In the second instance, Benedict referred to a biblical passage involving the Virgin Mary, who had conceived Jesus. In the passage, St. Elizabeth, cousin of Mary, calls her blessed.

Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment fo what was spoken to her by the Lord, Benedict read from a passage in the book of Luke.

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