September 30, 2013

Vatican to declare Pope John Paul II, John XXIII as ‘Saints’ to unify Catholics?

In an official announcement on Monday, Pope Francis declared sainthood dates for two Popes, late Pope John Paul II(1978 to 2005) and John XXIII (1958-1963).

In a bid to unite Catholic conservatives and liberals both the Popes will be declared saints on April 27, 2014. Also it will be the first time that two popes will be canonized at the same time.

The historic announcement was made by Pope Francis after attending a meeting of cardinals known as a consistory.

The popular Polish pope John Paul and his Italian predecessor known as "Good Pope John", are two of modern-day Catholicism's most influential figures.

The double sainthood is seen by Vatican watchers as an attempt to breach a traditional left-right divide in the Church.

Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century's most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn't need one.

However, analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church since each has his own admirers and critics.

Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

The canonisation of the two popes is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome.

John Paul II is a favourite of conservative Catholics, while John XXIII is widely admired by the Church's progressive wing, BBC reported.

Late Pope John Paul

Late Pope John Paul was a fierce critic of communism and will always be remembered for his media-friendly, globetrotting style. He was credited also for helping to inspire the opposition to communist rule in eastern Europe, as per BBC.

Late Pope John XXIII

John XXIII is remembered for introducing the vernacular to replace Latin in church masses and for creating warmer ties between the Catholic Church and the Jewish faith.

He has a big following in Italy, where he is known as Il Papa Buono, the good pope.

Why the Popes will get sainthood?

Sainthood normally requires two "confirmed" miracles, though Francis has approved the canonisation of John XXIII (1958-1963) -- with whom he shares a common touch and reformist views -- based on just one.

John Paul II, who served as pontiff from 1978 to 2005, was credited with his first miracle just six months after his death, when a French nun said she had been cured, through prayer, of Parkinson’s -- a disease he had also suffered from.

His second miracle was reportedly carried out on a woman in Costa Rica, who said she was healed from a serious brain condition by praying for John Paul's intercession on the same day he was beatified in 2011.

The Polish pope was popular throughout his 27-year papacy and helped topple Communism -- although he alienated many with his conservative views and was blamed for hushing up paedophile priest scandals.

At his funeral in 2005, crowds of mourners cried "Santo Subito!" -- "Sainthood Now!" -- prompting the Vatican to speed up the path to sainthood, which normally begins five years after death.

John XXIII made his name by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) which overhauled the Church's rituals and doctrines and reached out to other faiths.

Many compare the Italian pope, who died in 1963, with the current head of the Roman Catholic Church for their similar pastoral attitudes, humble, open manner and sense of humour.

The reportedly miraculous healing of an Italian nun who had severe internal hemorrhages was attributed to John XXIII when he was beatified in 2000.

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