nb_cid nb_clickOther -tt-nb this.style.behavior='url(#default#homepage)';this.setHomePage('http://www.aol.com/?mtmhp=acmpolicybanner081514 network-banner-promo mtmhpBanner
14
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
Video
Video
AOL Favorites
Favorites
Menu

Francis presides over historic day of four Popes

Pope Francis Canonizes John XXIII and John Paul II
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Two 20th-century popes who changed the course of the Catholic Church became saints Sunday as Pope Francis honored John XXIII and John Paul II in a delicate balancing act aimed at bringing together the conservative and progressive wings of the church.

As if to drive the message of unity home, Francis invited retired Pope Benedict XVI to join him on the altar of St. Peter's Square, the first time a reigning and retired pope have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church.

An estimated 800,000 people - many of them from John Paul's native Poland - filled St. Peter's, the streets around it and bridges over the Tiber River, a huge turnout but only half the size of the crowd that came out for John Paul's 2011 beatification.

John reigned from 1958-1963 and is a hero to liberal Catholics for having convened the Second Vatican Council. The meetings brought the church into the modern era by allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages rather than Latin and encouraged greater dialogue with people of other faiths, particularly Jews.

During his globe-trotting, quarter-century papacy, John Paul II helped topple communism and invigorated a new generation of Catholics, while his defense of core church teaching on abortion, marriage and other hot-button issues heartened conservatives after the turbulent 1960s.

Benedict was one of John Paul's closest confidantes and went on to preside over a deeply tradition-minded eight-year papacy. His successor Francis seems a pope much more inspired by the pastoral, simple style of the "good pope" John.

Yet Francis offered each new saint heartfelt praise in his homily, saying John had allowed himself to be led by God to call the council, and hailing John Paul's focus on the family. It's an issue that Francis has asked the church as a whole to take up for discussion with a two-year debate starting this fall.

"They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century," Francis said. "They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them."

Benedict put John Paul on the fast-track for possible sainthood just weeks after his 2005 death, responding to the chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Now!" that erupted during his funeral Mass. John Paul's canonization is now the fastest in modern times.

John's sainthood run, on the other hand, languished after his 2000 beatification. Rather than let John Paul have the limelight with a canonization on his own - emboldening many in the conservative wing of the church - Francis decided to pair him up with John. To do so, Francis tweaked the Vatican's own saint-making rules, deciding that John could be made a saint alongside John Paul without the necessary second miracle usually required.

Francis sounded a note of continuity in his homily, praising John for having called the council and John Paul for helping implement it.

"John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries," Francis said.

During the ceremony, Francis took a deep breath and paused for a moment before reciting the saint-making formula in Latin, as if moved by the history he was about to make in canonizing two popes at once.

As soon as he did so, applause broke out from a crowd in St. Peter's and beyond.

"This is such a historic moment," marveled the Rev. Victor Perez, who brought a group of students from the John Paul High School in Houston, Texas and waited for nearly 12 hours to get near St. Peter's. "John Paul was so impactful on the church. He completed the work of Vatican II. Today honors the last 50 years of what God has done in the church."

In John Paul's native Poland, bells rang out as soon as Francis pronounced the two men saints.

"He changed Poland and he changed us with his teaching and with his visits here," an emotional Maria Jurek said as she watched the proceedings on giant TV screens at a sanctuary dedicated to John Paul in Krakow.

In the Philippines, where John Paul in 1995 drew the largest ever crowd for a papal Mass at 4 million, Filipinos watched the canonization on TV and joined local celebrations, including a suburban Manila parade of children dressed like the pope.

Yet the atmosphere in St. Peter's seemed somber and subdued - perhaps because of the chilly gray skies and cumulative lack of sleep of many of the pilgrims who camped out on streets near the Vatican. It was a far different scene from the rollicking party atmosphere of John Paul's May 2011 beatification, when bands of young people sang, danced and cheered before, during and after the Mass.

Spirits though did pick up after the service when Francis drove through the square and all the way down to the Tiber River in his open-topped car, giving many people their first - and only - close-up glimpse of him.

The Vatican estimated that 800,000 people watched the Mass in Rome, with about 500,000 in the square and nearby streets and the rest watching on TV screens that had been set up in piazzas around town.

Polish pilgrims carrying the red and white flags of John Paul's beloved homeland had been among the first to push into the square well before sunrise, as the human chains of neon-vested civil protection workers trying to maintain order finally gave up and let them in.

And while it was supposed to be a canonization for two men, it was clear that the vast majority of people who turned out were there for John Paul.

"John Paul was our pope," said Therese Andjoua, a 49-year-old nurse who traveled from Libreville, Gabon, with some 300 other pilgrims to attend. She sported a traditional African dress bearing the images of both new saints.

"In 1982, he came to Gabon and when he arrived he kissed the ground and told us to 'Get up, go forward and be not afraid,'" she recalled as she rested against a pallet of water bottles. "When we heard he was going to be canonized, we got up."

Kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers from more than 90 countries attended. About 20 Jewish leaders from the U.S., Israel, Italy, Francis' native Argentina and Poland also took part, in a clear sign of their appreciation for the great strides made in Catholic-Jewish relations under John, John Paul and their successors celebrating their sainthood.

Benedict's presence on the altar with them was as remarkable as the historic canonization itself.

Benedict had promised to remain "hidden from the world" after resigning last year, but Francis has coaxed him out of retirement and urged him to take part in the public life of the church.

During the Mass, Benedict sat off to the side of the altar with other cardinals, though he was clearly in a place of honor. He received the Italian president and a steady stream of cardinals. Francis himself embraced Benedict at the beginning and end of the service.

Benedict had arrived in the square on his own to cheers and applause, wearing the same white vestments and white bishops' miter as other cardinals. The only difference was he had a white skullcap on rather than red.

___

Monika Scislowska contributed from Krakow, Poland and Jim Gomez and Rene Casibang contributed from Manila, Philippines.

___

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
joey April 27 2014 at 4:14 PM

Have Your Say...anti catholic seems to be the theme here

Flag Reply +5 rate up
mbrheljr April 27 2014 at 4:57 PM

John XXIII and John Paul II were their papal monikers.

Did anyone find what names they will be known by now that they've been dubbed saints by Pope Francis?

For an article that seemed to go on forever, it sure didn't say much...

Flag Reply +2 rate up
kitsober April 27 2014 at 5:14 PM

So glad they lived. With all they had, they made the world a nicer place.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
Sheila kitsober April 27 2014 at 5:17 PM

They made the world better for themselves. With all of the poverty in the world, they live better than anyone!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Flipper April 27 2014 at 8:10 PM

Mother Theresa should have been in line way before these two...

Flag Reply +2 rate up
jazznoyd1 April 27 2014 at 4:16 PM

jcbstz

Someone should tell the pope that there are no special honors given to so called special people. Did you know that the bible calls everyone who names the name of Jesus a saint.

This post is to Jcbstz: Can you direct me to what scripture in the Bible that you can use as a reference that supports the thought that "the bible calls everyone who names the name of Jesus a saint?"

Kind of curious as to where it says that. Thanks

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
jcbstz jazznoyd1 April 27 2014 at 4:25 PM

2 Cor 1:1, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:.... Psalm 34 and many other passages that refer to those who have named the name of Jesus as saints---> SAINT actually means SET APART FOR GOD

Flag Reply +5 rate up
V.A.A.B. April 27 2014 at 5:05 PM

BLESSED BE THEM FOREVER! THANK YOU FOR OOSTING THE ARTICLE.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
trigarn2 V.A.A.B. April 27 2014 at 5:21 PM

The Nazis Today

As the Nazi order ("Knights of the Reich") were formed by a formal Papal act and Deed in the form of the Reich Concordat 1933, the continued existence of the Nazi Order is conditional upon this legal document remaining enacted. Given the German Government and Holy See (Vatican) continue to honor this Concordat to this day, the Nazi order remains legally and technical still enacted, now bestowed unto a new organization.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
lilacs622y April 27 2014 at 5:08 PM

Not all priests are child molesters,many are holy priests ,why blame evry one for what some do ,that would be the same as calling everyone rapist,murders. all teachers or people in other walks of life molesters. Calling all married people adulterers for the few that break their vows and so on. You are the one that is stupid bseven 2. How would you like to be accused for someone elses crime?

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
ibabini lilacs622y April 27 2014 at 6:01 PM

The controversy on the Catholic Church started centures ago--it is not something new--If you can read the HISTORY of Catholicism from books that are NOT PRINTED BY THEM, YOU WILL REALIZE THE DARK SHADOW FOLLOWING IT----CATHOLICISM WAS NOT CREATED BY GOD--THE DIVINITY ALWAYS EXISTED BEFORE HUMAN BEINGS CREATED IT-- THE WEAKNESS IN THEIR TEACHING ARE THA CAUSE WHY PRIESTS HAVE CREATED SUCH HORRIBLE ACTS AGAINST CHILDREN--AND YES CATHOLICISM SHARE A GOOD PORTION OF THE GUILT OF THESE DEGENERATED MAN OF THE CLOTE. AND THEY TEACHINGS ARE AGAINST THE LAWS OF THE ALMIGHT. THEY WERE CREATED BY MAN OF THE CLOTE DURING THE 22 COUNCILS OF NICEA. CATHOLICISM CONTRIBUITED FOR THE SPREAD O AIDS IN AFRICA PROHIBITING THE USE OF CONDOMS TO THE MEMBERS OF THEY CHURCH.
NEED MORE ??? READ MORE.
AS FAR BREAKING THE VOWS ON MARRIAGE--SUCH VOWLS WERE CREATED BY RELIGION--WHAT IS “”REALLY STUPID” IS LIVING TOGETHER IN A MARRIAGE THAT DID NOT WORK, CREATING A LIFE OF MISERIES, AND DIVORCE IS PREFERABLE TO IT-----

Flag Reply 0 rate up
gfrandsen April 28 2014 at 3:01 AM

I'm not Catholic and I greatly admire this new pope. It seems to me, as an outsider, that he is doing a lot to bring people together, to be inclusive and less judgmental . I worry for his life, because change goes against the tradition of the Catholic Church. It certianly appears that way to me. I think it was a wonderful thing that the Francis included Benedict in the service. What a great man Francis is. I admire and respect him for being a peace maker.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
cliffandmaryo gfrandsen April 28 2014 at 3:45 AM

you need not worry for his life because "changes go against the traditions of the Catholic Church". I think you are mistaken about Pope Francis being "less judgmental". Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis all incorporate the message that God's mercy is an ocean, Be Not Afraid! None of them were judgmental. Go to Confession. All is forgiven.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
sindfetish April 27 2014 at 4:13 PM

As a non catholic, non religious , very believing in God type of guy...I like this pope a lot, as do many. Why do SO MANY hard core Catholics do not?

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
bigred8690 April 27 2014 at 7:02 PM

Flashback: John Paul II personally met with and forgave the man who shot him. That is character!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
jano bigred8690 April 27 2014 at 7:59 PM

all of us should forgive, but it's
God's area to punish and judge.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
James bigred8690 April 28 2014 at 3:24 AM

And did that make all the thousands of molested children feel better?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aol~~ 1209600

Voting...

More From Our Partners