VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II has moved a step closer to sainthood.

A Vatican official says a commission of theologians approved a miracle attributed to his intercession, clearing a key hurdle. The case now goes to a commission of cardinals and then Pope Francis. John Paul's canonization is possible in autumn to coincide with the 35th anniversary of his election, though the official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to reveal details about the case that it may be too soon.

The Polish-born pope has been on the fast track for sainthood ever since retired Pope Benedict XVI waived the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the investigation into his life and virtues to begin just weeks after his 2005 death. John Paul was beatified in 2011.

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  • FILE - In a Sept. 15, 1987 file photo, Pope John Paul II walks among young people at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, Calif. The pontiff addressed the group along with satellite viewers in Portland, Denver and St. Louis. When Pope John Paul II is brought a step away from sainthood on Sunday, May 1, the event will be celebrated in cathedrals, high schools and homes by American Catholics who revere the Polish pontiff like no other head of the Roman Catholic church before him. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 22, 1978 file photo, Pope John Paul II places his hands on the shoulders of West German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising, during the solemn inauguration of his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church in Vatican City. Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 that he will resign on Feb. 28. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals. (AP Photo)

  • The giant banner bearing John Paul's por

    The giant banner bearing John Paul's portrait is unveiled over the facade of St Peter's basilica during the ceremony of beatification for late pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011 at St Peter's square at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI declared John Paul II 'blessed' at a mass in Saint Peter's Square in front of more than a million people on Sunday, putting his late predecessor on the path to sainthood. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A view of the newly unveiled Pope John Paul II statue, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The city of Rome has inaugurated a revamped statue of Pope John Paul II after the first one was pilloried by the public and the Vatican. Artist Oliviero Rainaldi says he's pleased with the final product, saying it matches his original vision. He blamed foundry workers for a botched assemblage the first time around. When the statue was first unveiled in front of Rome's main train station in May 2011, it was widely criticized by passers-by as looking more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini than the beloved Polish pope. Even the Vatican's own art critic wrote that it looked like a "bomb" had landed. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Shenouda III, Pope John Paul II

    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 200 file photo, Pope John Paul II sits with Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, during a meeting at Shenouda's residence in Cairo, Egypt. John Paul became the first Roman Catholic pope to visit predominantly Islamic Egypt. Egypt's state news agency says Pope Shenouda III, head of Coptic Christian church, has died.(AP Photo/Paul Hanna/pool, File)

  • Pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 12-13, 1997.

  • In this March 1, 2012 photo, an image of the late Pope John Paul II hangs from a wall in the museum of the Cristo Rey, or Christ King monument, which stands at the top of the Cerro del Cubilete hill, considered the geographic center of the country, in Silao, Mexico. The visit of Pope Benedict XVI, his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America, begins on March 23 in Mexico's central state of Guanajuato, where he will spend three days and give an outdoor Mass before heading to Cuba on March 26. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger

    FILE - In this file photo taken Sept. 11, 2002, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, left, now Pope Benedict XVI, is seen with late Pope John Paul II during mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Devotion still runs high for the pope's predecessor, who honored Mexico by making it his first trip outside the Vatican and coming back four more times. For many Catholics, the March 23-26 papal visit to Mexico is long overdue, given that in seven years as pontiff, Benedict has never visited Mexico where there are more Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. The German pontiff known as a staid academic is uncomfortable with Latin America's mix of Catholicism and popular mysticism and its legions of unsanctioned saints. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File)

  • Marcial Maciel, Pope John Paul II

    FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2004 file photo, Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to late Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of Legionaries of Christ during a special audience the pontiff granted to about four thousand participants of the Regnum Christi movement, at the Vatican. A Hartford, Conn., Superior Court ruling released Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2011, allows a lawsuit by Jose Raul Gonzalez of Mexico, claiming the late Rev. Maciel molested him for years, to go forward. Gonzalez also claims that Maciel was his father. The Legionaries of Christ has its U.S. headquarters in Connecticut.

  • FILE - In this Friday April 7, 2005 file photo, a mariachi band performs in front of a giant image of Pope John Paul II during a last farewell to the Polish pope at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico. Devotion still runs high for the pope's predecessor, who honored Mexico by making it his first trip outside the Vatican and coming back four more times. For many Catholics, the March 23-26 papal visit to Mexico is long overdue, given that in seven years as pontiff, Benedict has never visited Mexico where there are more Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. The German pontiff known as a staid academic is uncomfortable with Latin America's mix of Catholicism and popular mysticism and its legions of unsanctioned saints. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)

  • FILE - In this 1979 file photo, Pope John Paul II, left, poses with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, who was named on Nov. 25, 1981, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, the former Holy Office. Ratzinger was elected Pope, April 19, 2005 and chose Benedict XVI as his papal name. Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, he would resign Feb. 28 because he is simply too old to carry on. (AP Photo/File)

  • A worker decorates a space in downtown Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday, April 2, 2012, in preparation for hours of prayers and vigil that will mark the seventh anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Observances are held in many Polish cities in memory of the much-loved pope who was born in Wadowice, in southern Poland and was announced blessed in 2011. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

  • John Paul II, Jerzy Kluger

    FILE - In this Thursday, March 23, 2000 file photo, Pope John Paul II greets World War II death camp survivor, and boyhood friend, Jerzy Kluger, during a visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem. Jerzy Kluger, a Polish-born Jew who was a lifetime friend and childhood playmate of the late Pope John Paul II, has died in a clinic near Rome. Kluger's wife, Irene, told The Associated Press that her husband, who was 90, had died on Dec. 31 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for three years and was buried Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Isaac Harari/GPO/ File)

  • In this Feb. 29, 2012 photo, a man makes the sign of the cross in front of a statue of the late Pope John Paul II outside of the cathedral in Leon, Mexico. The visit of Pope Benedict XVI, his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America, begins on March 23 in Mexico's central state of Guanajuato, where he will spend three days and give an outdoor Mass before heading to Cuba on March 26. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger

    FILE - In this file photo taken Dec. 22, 2003 provided by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano daily, late Pope John Paul II, right, greets then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, during the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings at the Vatican. Devotion still runs high for the pope's predecessor, who honored Mexico by making it his first trip outside the Vatican and coming back four more times. For many Catholics, the March 23-26 papal visit to Mexico is long overdue, given that in seven years as pontiff, Benedict has never visited Mexico where there are more Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. The German pontiff known as a staid academic is uncomfortable with Latin America's mix of Catholicism and popular mysticism and its legions of unsanctioned saints. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File)

  • Workers paste an image of the late Pope John Paul II to a giant billboard in Silao, Mexico, Thursday March 22, 2012. It's been a decade since the former pope visited Mexico; his fifth and final trip to the country. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, arrives Friday, to a very different country and welcomed by a church that has suffered debilitating setbacks amidst sex abuse scandals and a lower percentage of Mexicans who call themselves Catholic today compared to a decade ago. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • Pope John Paul II Wax Figure Transported To Poland

    BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 17: A wax figure of Pope John Paul II stands in a parking garage prior to being loaded into a car to be driven to Wadowice, Poland from the Madame Tussauds museum on May 17, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. The figure will be on display for one day in the former Pope's birthplace for celebrations of the 92nd anniversary of his birth. Pope John Paul II, baptized as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, was born in the Polish town on May 18, 1920. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2003 file photo, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, Archbishop of Quebec, wearing the three-cornered biretta hat, kisses the hand of Pope John Paul II, during the consistory in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Cardinal Marc Ouellet once said that being pope "would be a nightmare." He would know, having enjoyed the confidence of two popes as a top-ranked Vatican insider. His high-profile position as head of the Vatican's office for bishops, his conservative leanings, his years in Latin America and his work in Rome as president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America make him a favorite to become the first pontiff from the Americas following Pope Benedict XVI’s stunning resignation earlier this month. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti)

  • The Vatican Prepares For The Retirement Of Pope Benedict XVI's Retirement

    ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24: A commemorative plate featuring Pope John Paul II sits in a shop window on February 24, 2013 in Rome, Italy. The Pontiff will hold his last weekly public audience on February 27, 2013 before he retires the following day. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire since 1415. He cites ailing health as his reason for retirement and will spend the rest of his life in solitude away from public engagements. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2001 file photo released by the Vatican, Pope John Paul II shakes hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during a private audience at the Vatican City Friday. Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 that Chavez has died. Chavez, 58, was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2011. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari, Vatican, File)

  • A poster of Pope John Paul II that reads in Spanish "Mexico always faithful" hangs on display outside a small store that sells religious items at the back of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Cardinals from around the globe locked themselves inside the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City on Tuesday to choose a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • Pope John Paul II, Mehmet Ali Agca

    FILE - This Dec. 27, 1983 file photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, shows Pope John Paul II, left, talking with his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca, of Turkey, in Agca's prison cell in Rome. The Turkish gunman who shot Pope John Paul II has changed his story once again, saying in a new autobiography that Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini personally told him to kill the pope. Mehmet Ali Agca writes in "They Promised Me Paradise,'' released Thursday Feb. 1, 2013 in Italy, that he was trained in Iran by Khomeini's forces after escaping from a Turkish prison, and that the Iranian leader himself told him to kill John Paul in the name of God. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari, L'Osservatore Romano)

  • People gather at the Basilica of Guadalupe for Mass where a statue of Pope John Paul II stands on display in Mexico City, Sunday, March 17, 2013. Catholics around the world attended the first Sunday Mass after the election of Pope Francis, Argentine's former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

  • A 13.8 m tall sculpture of late Pope John Paul II is seen behind a wooden fence during the unveiling ceremony in Czestochowa, southern Poland, on April 13, 2013. The world's tallest statue of late pope John Paul II was unveiled Saturday in the Polish city of Czestochowa, already home to a Catholic icon believed to work miracles. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FILE - Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, left, speaks with Pope John Paul II during a private audience at the Vatican in Rome, In this Dec. 18, 1999 file photo. Havel is on an official visit to Italy and the Vatican. The pontiff is holding a gift he received from Havel. Havel, the dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War, died Sunday Dec. 18, 2011 in Prague. He was 75. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti, File)

  • A giant bronze sculpture portraying Pope John Paul II issplayed outside Rome's Termini train Station on November 19, 2012. The city of Rome has inaugurated the revamped version of the statue after the first one, unveiled in May 2011 was widely criticized. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • John Paul II Beatification Mass And Ceremony

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MAY 01: Pilgrims hold an image featuring Pope John Paul II as they attend the ceremony for the beatification of Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Square on May 1, 2011 in Vatican City, Vatican. The ceremony marking the beatification and the last stages of the process to elevate Pope John Paul II to sainthood was led by his successor Pope Benedict XI and attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims alongside heads of state and dignitaries. (Photo by Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)

  • Pope John Paul II

    FILE - In this Aug. 15, 1993 file photo Pope John Paul II greets a young man during a mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Co. When Pope John Paul II is brought a step away from sainthood on Sunday, May 1, the event will be celebrated in cathedrals, high schools and homes by American Catholics who revere the Polish pontiff like no other head of the Roman Catholic church before him. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)