What It Means for the Vatican to Canonize Popes John XXIII and John Paul II

What It Means for the Vatican to Canonize Popes John XXIII and John Paul II

John L. Allen Jr. writing at the Boston Globe:

This will be the first time two popes have been declared saints in the same ceremony, and although projections vary, well over a million people could turn out in Rome to watch history being made, with millions more following the event on TV or over the Internet.

In the Catholic street, John XXIII is an icon of the left, remembered as the pope who launched the reforming Second Vatican Council and opened the Church to the modern world. John Paul II is a hero to the right, the pope who brought down Communism, who fought what he called a “culture of death” behind liberalizing currents on abortion and other life issues, and who insisted on strong Catholic identity vis-à-vis secular pressures to water down the faith.

Inevitably, those stereotypes don’t do justice to complex figures. John XXIII was actually a man of deeply traditional Italian Catholic piety, and John Paul II was hardly a neo-con. Recall, for instance, his opposition to both the death penalty and the US-led war in Iraq in 2003.

Nonetheless, the politically savvy Francis is aware of how these popes are seen, so the dual halos represent an invitation to left and right to come together. Had either pontiff been canonized individually, it might have come off as a victory lap for one side or the other.

Read the rest of the article here.

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