Pope Pushes John Paul II Sainthood Candidacy

Pope Benedict XVI has accelerated John Paul II's candidacy for sainthood by waving a five year waiting period. He also named San Francisco's Archbishop as doctrine protector, becoming the highest ranking American ever in the Roman Catholic Church.

There is usually a five-year waiting period before someone can be considered as a candidate for sainthood. Mother Theresa was the only other exeption. The announcement came on Friday during a meeting with the Roman clergy at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, according to the Associated Press.

Vatican officials say that a lengthy investigation must be made into the former Pope's life before he could be named a saint, a process which could take years.

In a separate announcement, the pope chose longtime friend Archbishop William Levada, 68, as prefect for the Congregation on Doctrine and Faith, one of the most powerful positions within the church. The current pope had held the position since 1981, according to AP.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that Levada would be the highest-ranking American ever at the Vatican, according to AP.

Some important doctrinal views held by the Vatican are opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, homosexuality and the celibacy of the priesthood.

Levada has said he is opposed to same-sex marriages, and also instructed that priests should asks bishops whether or not to give communion to a Catholic politician if the politician approves of abortion.

Levada's appointment as head of doctrine guardianship makes him the highest ranking American ever within the Catholic church, as reported by the Associated Press.