John Paul II and John XXIII Are Saints: Page 2


John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Bergamo, on Nov. 25, 1881, the third of 13 children. He was elected pope on Oct. 28, 1958, at the age of 76.

His papacy lasted less than 5 years -- he died of stomach cancer June 3, 1963 -- but left an indelible mark by putting aside doctrinal issues and focusing on the modern world’s trends.

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John put aside the Church’s rigid and often obscure language and reached people’s hearts with a simple, spontaneous and paternal approach. This attitude earned him the name “the Good Pope.”

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“He was for the church a pastor, a servant-leader. He was the pope of openness to the spirit,” Pope Francis said.

Indeed, the Council that John XXIII called produced modernizing reforms which included the use of local language rather than Latin for Mass, ecumenical efforts toward dialogue with other religions, and a new, more communicative approach to the world.

Francis described John Paul II as “the pope of the family.”

Born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, a town near Krakow, John Paul II has also been a pope of firsts. He was the first pope of the third millennium, and the third-longest serving Pope, having led the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years.

He was the first non-Italian Pope since Adrian VI in 1522, the most traveled pope in history, and the most hospitalized pope.

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A man of contrasts, who championed human rights and challenged dictators, John Paul II adopted a less formal style which contrasted with his rigid, traditionalist stance on issues like contraception, divorce, gay marriages and abortion.

Attacked for his decision to beatify Pope Pius IX, who was known his frequent anti-Semitic speeches, John Paul II was also questioned about having done enough to respond to the church sex abuse scandal.

However, the charismatic Polish pontiff was one of the most beloved popes in the history of the church, drawing huge crowds at each events he attended.

He has now set a record for modern times by becoming a saint only nine years after his death.

The road to sainthood was also fast for John XXIII, who was made saint although only one miracle -- instead of the two normally required -- has been attributed to him.

John XXIII, the hero of the church's progressive wing, and John Paul II, a giant for Catholic conservatives, are now the 79th and 80th popes of the Roman Catholic Church to become saints.

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