“Santo Subito” (Sainthood Now) is not just a slogan that some young Romans happened to come up with that afternoon of April 8th 2005. It is a popular slogan that dates back to the first centuries of the Church’s history: it came into being along with a similar cry which was “Vox Populi, vox Dei” meaning: “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. During the persecution of the Early Christians, all martyrs to the faith were proclaimed “Santo Subito”.
— Santo Subito Online
In Italian, santo subito means "Saint Immediately!" or "Sainthood Now!" This is what the 300,000-strong crowd attending Pope John Paul II's funeral mass chanted at various points, expressing their desire for their favourite pope to be placed on the fast-track to canonization by the Vatican.
It's not the intention of this writeup to answer the question of why John Paul II was so beloved. A straightforward possible explanation is simply that he was Pope for so long - 27 years is an extremely long term as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, due to the fact that it is rare for a man as young as Karol Wojtyla to reach this august position. An entire generation of people grew up knowing no other man as the physical representation of their faith on Earth, and so his death must have been a traumatic event for them. To others, John Paul II represented a return of a more traditional, conservative attitude to a Church that had been shaken by the modernizing efforts of the second Vatican Council. To others still, John Paul II was a bridge-builder, the most-travelled religious leader in the world, whose visits to other countries were marked by his famous, self-humbling gesture of kissing the ground upon disembarking the plane.
So why "Sainthood Now"? When one thinks of a saint, one thinks of people whose holiness and self-abnegation leads them to live a life of austere service. Mother Teresa is one such example, although there are those who dispute how saintly a figure she really was. Although John Paul II was an unusually young and energetic pontiff, it was rare to hear anyone use the word "saintly" in relation to him until very late in his life, when his illnesses (Parkinson's Disease, for one thing) made him increasingly immobile and caused him great suffering, and yet he insisted on performing his popely duties to the extent of his ability. He said that as the family, as the church, and as Christ was made to suffer, so would he suffer, in public, for the redemption of the sins of the world. Some people saw this as a kind of Christ complex, and saw the figure of the doddering, drooling pope as a grotesquerie representative of the out-of-touch state of the Roman Catholic Church itself. Others saw this as an act of supreme holiness, and calls for his sainthood began eve before he died, as they did for Mother Teresa.
The process of canonization is in place - "santo subito" may yet happen for John Paul II, but there are significant dissenting voices. Those who oppose the Church's view on the use of contraception, for example, feel that far from being a saint, John Paul II was one of the greatest mass murderers in history, damned forever by his stance on denying contraception to millions of his followers around the world, and indirectly responsible for an uncountable number of AIDS deaths and unwanted pregnancies. Seen in this light, the Church's canonization of John Paul II would be an unforgivable statement of support of someone whose inflexibility caused suffering and misery to millions of people worldwide. Others feel John Paul II also blotted his copybook irreparably through his reaction to the global pedophilia controversy that sprang up around Catholic priests: a reaction that revolved around concealment, denial, and counter-accusation.
For canonization, you need miracles. People have to have something miraculous happen to them after praying to John Paul II, and that miracle needs to be verified by the Vatican. Apparently there are "dozens" of such miracles now reported and verified; never mind how exactly one verifies a miracle. The Vatican conducts such affairs behind closed doors, for good reason. Still, the "santo" has not been as "subito" as all those chanters at the Pope's funeral wanted. Many thought that one of Pope Benedict XVI's first acts would be the canonization of his predecessor, but so far he has been gently steering around this particular iceberg.
If you support the cause and want John Paul II to be canonized subito then www.santosubitoonline.com is what you are looking for. Here you can vote in a poll in which you state whether or not you want John Paul II proclaimed a saint immediately; the second choice in the poll is exactly what you want him proclaimed "Patron and Protector" of: the young? Families? Peace workers? Europe? Poland? The choice is yours. There is no "None of the above" option. Apparently most (61%) of respondents feel that the right answer is "the young", perhaps because John Paul II was personally responsible for so many of them coming into being.