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“These crude attacks on the Libya people, which have a neo-fascist character, are fanning a flame that can burn everyone.”

POLAND

Poles joyful over John Paul’s beatification

WARSAW | Poles already are calling him John Paul the Great.

Across the heavily Roman Catholic country, the faithful are voicing joy and pride as Sunday’s beatification of Polish-born Pope John Paul II draws closer.

Many pilgrims are boarding buses and trains for the roughly 30-hour journey to Rome for the ceremony, while many more are expected to fill squares in Warsaw, Krakow and his hometown of Wadowice to follow it on large video screens.

The atmosphere of celebration contrasts sharply with the deep sense of mourning after John Paul died in 2005. At the time, black ribbons of mourning fluttered everywhere and full churches expressed the widespread grief felt at the country’s loss of its most respected moral authority and a figure credited with helping end communism.

Now many here repeat a common refrain: that the beatification is largely a formality because they already consider their native son the holiest of men.

Beatification is the last formal step before possible sainthood, and many in Poland hope that the fast beatification will be followed by a speedy canonization as well.

From wire dispatches and staff reports