Pope Francis canonises Sts John XXIII and John Paul II

Pope Francis has praised Sts John XXIII and John Paul II as men who modernised the Catholic Church in fidelity to its ancient traditions.

The Pope said this during his homily at a canonisation Mass at St Peter’s Square on April 27 before an estimated 500,000 people.

A few minutes earlier, he had formally declared both popes to be saints of the Catholic Church.

“John XXIII and John Paul cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her original features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries,” Pope Francis said.

He called them men of courage and mercy.

Pope Francis said he liked to think of St John as “the pope of openness to the Spirit”.

And the current Pontiff characterised St John Paul II as the “pope of the family”.

Pope Francis said he was sure St John Paul was guiding the Church on its path to two upcoming synods of bishops on the family, to be held at the Vatican this October and in October, 2015.

Mercy was a major theme in Pope Francis’s homily, which was delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday.

He has often pointed to the need for mercy in Church teaching on marriage and the family.

Among the concelebrants as the canonisation Mass were Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 150 cardinals and 700 bishops.

Commentators have said that in canonising both popes together, Pope Francis is urging Catholics to look beyond liberal and conservative divisions to join together in following the Gospel.

Jesuit commentator Fr Thomas Reese wrote that making a former pope a saint is a way of strengthening his legacy.

This makes it more difficult for future popes to change policies the saint put in place.

“By canonising them together, Pope Francis is saying that all Catholics should be able to come together to celebrate the lives of these holy men,” Fr Reese wrote.

Since these two are so different, it does not canonise so-called liberal or conservative models of being pope, the Jesuit wrote.

“So it leaves Pope Francis free to follow his own path.”


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