Chicagoans Make Holy Pilgrimage To Rome

ROME (CBS) — There are hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Rome to attend this weekend’s beatification ceremonies for Pope John Paul II.

Among them are Chicago pilgrims who are part of a group organized by their city’s Archdiocese.

They talked with CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine about honoring the late pontiff -– who had a special relationship with Chicago –- and also the controversy that dogs Cardinal Francis George, thousands of miles away.

One Chicagoan believes his recovery from a debilitating back injury could be one of Pope John Paul II’s required miracles for sainthood.

“When I had the audience with him, I truly felt that I was in the presence of a saint, a living saint,” Anthony Zawila said.

Cardinal George was expected to arrive Saturday. Back home, he suspended Father Michael Pfleger after the St. Sabina pastor threatened to leave the Catholic Church if he was “removed” from his longtime assignment as leader of the black congregation.

Chicagoans on the pilgrimage in Rome hope the focus stays on John Paul II, not Pfleger, as Illinois reporters cover the Cardinal’s activities.

“Cardinal George has the authority to do what he deems necessary and right for the Archdiocese, and I respect his opinion totally,” Trish Kallembach of Park Ridge said.

Pope John Paul, who was Polish, visited Chicago in 1979 and was a source of pride to the city’s considerable Polish American population. He died in 2005 at age 84.

Leaving evening mass at one of Rome’s four major basilicas – St. Paul Outside the Walls — it was impossible to miss one group of pilgrims. Each wore a red bandana with the inscription “Beatification, John Paul 2, May 1” in Polish.

The group wasn’t from Poland – but from Chicago’s North Side.

“I listen to him all my life. I have to be here, I have to be here,” one group member told Levine.

  • Walthers

    Everyone is goins.. so we too will go. We want to see the beatification of Pope John Paul II . He was lsuch a wonderful person and he is the one who healed tha woman with Parkisson desease and now she is well enouhg to continue with her relilgious activities. God is the one who heals through us who are holy and righteous. I wish we all could go… but the tickets to Rome are so high and everything is so expensive.. If I had a car that lruns on water or an airplane that flies with solar panel instead of using gas… then the prices will be so low that everyone will go no matter what.

  • Carmann

    You can go anytime. We do not have any money and will not be getting fat pensions to spend lavishly somewhere like Rome. Of course we want to see the pope beatified but we do not have any money to spend. Gas is very high and we do not ride our truck for 2 weeks already, we are taking the train. We hope solar panneled cars will be build in Chicago so we can drive those without paying so much for gas.

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