It will be a date millions of Roman Catholics around the world will be looking forward to. On Sept 30, Pope Francis will host a meeting of cardinals to formally approve the canonisation of former popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes said that the date for the canonisation will be announced at that time.
Cardinal Amato indicated that the canonisation was likely to take place in 2014, however refrained from giving an exact date, telling Vatican Radio that only Pope Francis knows for sure the date he will proclaim the two former popes as saints.
While returning from Brazil last month, Pope Francis had told reporters that one possible date for the canonisation is April 27, the Sunday after Easter. The date has significance as it is also Divine Mercy Sunday, a celebration instituted worldwide by John Paul II.
Describing the two popes, Pope Francis has said that Blessed John was "a bit of the 'country priest who was holy, patient, with a good sense of humour and also a man of courage who let himself be guided by the Lord.
Blessed John Paul, Pope Francis said: "I think of him as 'the great missionary of the church'," because he was "a man who proclaimed the Gospel everywhere."
Pope Francis signed a decree recognising the miracle needed for Blessed John Paul's canonisation on July 5; the same day, the Vatican announced that the Pope had agreed with the cardinal members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes that the canonisation of Blessed John should go forward even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession.
Most Apologetic Pope
Acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century, Pope John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 to his death in 2005 during which period he visited 129 countries. He is credited with aiding the end of Communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.
Though criticised for upholding some of the Church's orthodox beliefs, John Paul II was also one of the most apologetic Popes in history apologising for things that he and many others believed the church has done wrong for instance, he apologized to Jewish leaders about the role the church played in Europe during World War II.
With such overture he succeeded in significantly improving the Catholic Church's relations with other religions. Interesting, during his tenure, he beatified 1,340 people and canonised 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries.
He was beatified on May 1, 2011 after one miracle, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson's disease, was attributed to him. A second miracle, attributed to the late pope, was approved on July 2, 2013.
"Good Pope" Pope John
Pope John XXIII, was head of the Catholic Church from 1958 to his death in 1963. He was the first pope to take the name "John" upon his election in more than 500 years. His choice settled the complicated question of official numbering attached to this papal name.
For those who were expecting him to be a mere caretaker pope, he surprised them by courageously calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). He however did not live to see its completion as he dies of stomach cancer in 1963. Affectionately known as the "Good Pope", he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Sept 2000.
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