6 Jul 2013

Two Popes to become saints

5:54 am on 6 July 2013

Pope John Paul II is to become a saint.

Pope Francis has cleared the way for his canonisation later this year, after a second miracle was attributed to the late pontiff's intervention.

The Polish pope led the Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005.

Pope Francis has also approved the sainthood of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), though no second miracle has been attributed to his intervention.

John Paul II has been on a fast-track to sainthood since his death and was beatified six years later by his successor Pope Benedict XVI.

The BBC reports John Paul is already credited with asking God to cure Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun, of Parkinson's disease, which helped lead to his beatification in 2011.

A Costa Rican woman has reportedly recovered from a serious brain illness and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concluded that the only explanation for her recovery was the fact that her family had prayed for the late pope's intercession.

John Paul II streamlined the path to sainthood, and himself created more saints than all previous popes combined.

The Vatican says the canonisation ceremonies for the two popes will take place by the end of the year in St Peter's Square.

Many believers are likely to travel from Poland, where he is held in widespread respect as a moral authority and for his role as an inspiration in overcoming Communist rule.

Archbishop Jozef Michalik said those who observed John Paul II's life already regarded him as a saint.

Second Vatican Council

Pope John XXIII reigned from 1958 until 1963 and was known as "Good Pope John" because of his kindly demeanour.

He was beatified by John Paul II in 2000, and Pope Francis took the unusual step of waiving the requirement of a second miracle in his case.

Pope John convened the Second Vatican Council, but died before it was completed.

The BBC reports Vatican II led to significant changes in Church doctrine and opened the way for Mass to be conducted in worshippers' own languages, rather than solely in Latin.