Tens of thousands of people, especially from Poland, returned to St. Peter's Square April 28 for the official Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. John Paul. Cardinal Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, presided at the Mass, and Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, St. John Paul's longtime secretary, concelebrated.
In his homily, Cardinal Comastri picked up on Pope Francis' statement at the April 27 canonization that St. John Paul was the "pope of the family."
"We are here today to give thanks, but especially to accept the heritage and the example of his courageous faith," the cardinal said.
"John Paul II had the courage to defend the family, which is a project of God written in clear words in the book of life," the cardinal said. "He defended the family at a time when confusion and public aggression against the family were spreading in an insane attempt to write an anti-Genesis," an account of the meaning of the family opposed to God's plan for creation described in the first book of the Bible.
In his 1981 apostolic exhortation on the family, "Familaris Consortio," the cardinal said, Pope John Paul denounced how the family already was becoming the target of "numerous forces trying to destroy or at least deform it" to the detriment of society and the good of the human person.
St. John Paul "felt his most urgent mission was to proclaim to all God's plan for marriage and the family," he said, adding his hope that Catholics would look to St. John Paul to rediscover God's plan for the family, "which is the only path that will give dignity to the family and truth to the love and future of spouses and their children."
After breaking his leg in a fall and undergoing hip replacement surgery in 1994, which was the U.N.-proclaimed International Year of the Family, Pope John Paul spoke at a Sunday Angelus address about his suffering, Cardinal Comastri recalled. Pope John Paul had said he thought God asked him to suffer "because the family is threatened, the family is being attacked" and only through suffering could he teach people the beauty of the Gospel and fidelity to it.
The cardinal also described St. John Paul as courageous in defending human life, "all human life, at a time when the 'culture of the disposable,' as Pope Francis calls it, was spreading."
People today "are starving for love," Cardinal Comastri said, but "the weakest are being tossed aside because the selfish see them as a burden. It's a terrible fact, a sign of a decline in civility."