The Bishop of Meath, Michael Smith, said that John Paul II could be named a Doctor of the Church, such was his influence during his lifetime.

In an interview with the Irish Times, Bishop Smith said a Doctor of the Church is someone who has been “been identified as having made an extraordinary contribution to the teaching of the church and to the interpretation of the words of Christ, and to elaboration of the whole understanding of the church.”

Smith went on to add that the dignity, importance and  that Pope John Paul II placed in each human being was a strong reason why he would be considered for such an honor.

A Doctor of the Church is an honor that can only be given to Saints and the first four Saints to receive this accolade were Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and Pope Gregory I. 

The last Saint to be named a Doctor of the Church was St. Thérèse de Lisieux in 1997.

The Bishop of Meath also added that the current Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, also had the potential to one day become a Doctor of the Church.

The Rev. Smith was, in 1979, secretary to the committee of Irish bishops and had a key role in organizing the 1979 Papal visit.  While he said the visit of Pope John Paul II went well, he also added that he was glad "to see him on the plane at Shannon."

Smith also told The Irish Times that Pope John Paul II had wanted to visit the North but was convinced not to by Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, who was afraid of what night happen to the throngs what would flock to see him.

Though at 82 Pope Benedict XVI might not get around to coming to Ireland, were he to do so, Smith feels that  the North would have to be a focal point of that visit.