Last week Polish Press Agency (PAP) informed that Robert Kubica, the 22-year-old Formula 1 driver from Poland, emerged unhurt from a high-speed crash during the Canadian Grand Prix on June 10 ? those who idolize John Paul II said it was because Kubica had etched the late pope?s name on his safety helmet.
The Vatican views Kubica?s survival as a miracle at a time when it is building a case for sainthood for John Paul II, although it denies it will use the survival in its sainthood proceedings. One of the prerequisites for sainthood is that the candidate must have performed miracles.
Pope Benedict XVI opened a case for beatification of John Paul II a few weeks after his death on May 13, 2005. That is a step toward sainthood.
In the Roman Catholic Church, beatification involves a pope declaring that a deceased person lived a holy life and is worthy of public veneration.
Polish news organizations were quick to make the link between Kubica?s survival and John Paul II.
Kubica, who in 2006 became the first Polish driver in Formula 1 history, slammed into the wall at Montreal in his BMW Sauber after colliding with Jarno Trulli?s Toyota. The impact destroyed Kubica?s car but he suffered only a slight concussion and a sprained ankle.
Few spectators thought he was alive because the way his car crumpled after it hit the wall at 230 kilometers per hour.
PAP said the Vatican was going to feature Kubica?s ?miraculous survival? in a story that its monthly magazine, ?Totus Tuus,? was devoting to John Paul II?s beatification.
However, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is heading the beatification effort, denied that Kubica?s case will be part of the beatification proceedings. The period during which people could testify in the proceedings is already over, he told Krakow-based RMF FM Radio.
Monsignor Oder said he hopes Kubica gives an account of the accident and his attitude toward John Paul II to ?Totus Tuus? magazine. The next edition will be devoted to well-known athletes whom the Holy Father influenced through face-to-face meetings or through his instructions. The athletes will be asked how John Paul II affected their lives.
?It?s a certainty that Mr. Kubica was one of those people to whom the Polish pope was not indifferent,? the monsignor said.
When journalists ask Kubica about the ?miracle in Montreal? or his feelings about John Paul II, he replies that it?s a private matter, ?it?s personal, not related to races. I don?t think you should worry about it.?
Those who know Kubica are not surprised that he does not want to talk about it. He has always taken pains to keep his professional and private lives separate, his friends say.
The Vatican has not put pressure on him to tell his story, either. Although Monsignor Oder would be happy to have Kubica give an account for ?Totus Tuus? magazine, he never contacted the driver directly. Kubica learned about Monsignor?s desire from news reports.
Late last week, Kubica passed a medical which allowed him to participate in the Grand Prix in France, where he came in fourth. He is sixth on the Formula 1 circuit overall.