The mayor of Rome, who would play a pivotal role in organizing the event, said the beatification of John Paul is expected to take place "at the latest" by 2010.
Speaking on a visit to Krakow, in the former Pope's native Poland, Gianni Alemmano said: "These are internal decisions (for the Vatican) but it is expected to take place at the latest by next year."
Vatican observers say the most likely date for the beatification would be April next year, on the fifth anniversary of the popular Pontiff's death.
Beatification precedes canonisation and involves a complicated process including the verification of miracles attributed to the person being considered.
A miracle normally takes the form of the curing of a disease or affliction which has no scientific explanation. A second miracle is then required for sainthood.
In John Paul's case, the miracle under consideration is said to have taken place when a French nun was cured of Parkinson's disease.
The process leading to sainthood usually takes decades, but Pope Benedict XVI launched the beatification process for John Paul just two months after his predecessor's death on April 5, 2005.
During the summer, the former Pope's spokesman said the beatification process would not be delayed by the publication in Poland of correspondence between John Paul and a female compatriot.
Wanda Poltawska, who was one of a handful of people by the Pope's bedside when he died, published a book with extracts of letters that she exchanged with John Paul, whom she met in 1962 while he was in Krakow. It is due to be published in Italy in February.
There is no suggestion that they had a romantic relationship, but some Roman Catholic Church officials were reportedly annoyed that she had "exaggerated" her friendship with the late pontiff and that the relationship would have to be scrutinised as part of the beatification process.Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who ran the Vatican press office for 22 years, said there was no special connection between Mrs Poltawska, 88, and the former Pope.
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