Pope John Paul II is popularly regarded as John Paul the Great and as a saint. The Vatican has not officially declared either yet. He is, however, well on his way to being declared a saint. The beatification is the third step in a four step process toward sainthood. The ceremony will take place on May 1, 2011, the Feast for Divine Mercy--a devotion he popularized.
This particular saint is one I am very happy to see attaining the final reward. The 20th Century was steeped in the soul and bloodshed of atheistic regimes and the Sexual Revolution, and he fought well against them. While I shudder to think what this current century will bring, I know this story ends well eventually, and I have hope in more remarkable people answering God's call to sainthood.
On Saints and Sinners:
The Church derives it's authority to declare a person a saint from Christ Himself (Mathew 18:18). For more information on the process and the authority of the Church, click here. For my part, I take vast comfort from the fact that the Church is willing to say, "Yes, this obviously special person is in Heaven" but never, "This obviously evil one is in Hell." The Church is not willing to use it's authority to damn anyone and wisely leaves that decision to God. I like to think that perhaps God, in His love for each of us, has such a tender and incredible mercy that He offers us the opportunity to change our minds and choose Him even at the moment of our death. Since I am also a latecomer to the vineyard, I am more than happy that all those who work are paid in full, even if they come in one bright and final instant (Matthew 20).
Links to Articles on John Paul II's Beatification
The Full Text of the Decree of the Miracle Attributed to John Paul II's Intercession