1 May 2011

Churches mark beatification of Pope John Paul

3:08 pm on 1 May 2011

The Catholic church in New Zealand has marked the beatification of Pope John Paul II at ceremonies around the country.

The beatification - the third of four steps in the process of becoming a saint - was being announced on Sunday by Pope Benedict in Rome.

Members of the Wellington's Polish community attended a mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral to represent Pope John Paul's homeland.

Some wearing traditional outfits, they carried the Polish flag in a procession, before a reading by Polish Ambassador Beata Stoczynska.

Celebrating the mass was Archbishop John Dew, who says Pope John Paul II became a hero of Poland after he helped to bring about the fall of communism in 1989.

Archbishop Dew says Pope John Paul is remembered for his tenderness, compassion.

"He used to say the future of the church is by way of its humanity - when people are living as really good human beings they can attract others to the life of the gospel."

In Auckland, the Pope's representative in New Zealand, Archbishop Charles Balvo, blessed a statue of Pope John Paul at Saint Patrick's Cathedral.