Saints John XXIII, John Paul II make history

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Monday, April 28, 2014


POPES John XXIII and John Paul II were declared saints by Pope Francis in an unprecedented double-canonization rites yesterday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican City, before some 800,000 crowd, and in the presence of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

The canonization was historic because never before have a reigning pope and a retired pope celebrate Mass together in public, much least at an event that honored two of their well-loved predecessors.

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

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Provincial tourism officer Cristine Mansinares, who attended the ceremonies in time for her birthday yesterday, said, “It was so rewarding to join our fellow Catholic pilgrims around the world in this historic event that our generation will cherish.”

Mansinares shared that they had to walk for nearly two hours to reach St. Peter’s Square yesterday as all major roads leading to the church were closed.

Chida Sian-Reyes, another Negrense who attended the canonization, said, “It seemed like a week-long celebrations for two heavyweight popes attaining sainthood - with people of different nationalities and walks of life converging here to witness this inspiring event.”

“My husband and I personally gave thanks to St. John Paul II as our intercessor for having a baby after 10 years,” she added.

Including the travel time to St. Peter’s Square and for celebrating Mass, it took them nine long hours, she said. “It was no joke, but it was all worth it!”

For Bacolod Rep. Evelio Leonardia, “The elevation of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII to sainthood gives us the feeling and fulfillment that indeed in our generation we also have our share of relevance and contribution to the Christian world. We can identify with them because they have directly touched our lives.”

For so long we’ve been used to praying to saints who lived decades or centuries ago, Leonardia said.

“Pope John XXIII’s Vatican Council 2 is what Catholics live today and Pope John Paul II is personal to the Philippines and even Bacolod as he could be the only saint to have ever set foot here,” he added.

At the ceremonies, Pope Francis praised the new saints for their work associated with the Second Vatican Council, the groundbreaking meetings that brought the 2,000-year-old institution into modern times. Pope John XXIII convened the council in 1962 while Pope John Paul II helped ensure its more conservative implementation and interpretation.

“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,” Pope Francis said.

He praised St.John XXIII for having allowed himself to be led by God to call the council, and he hailed St John Paul II’s focus on the family — an issue he (Francis) has taken up himself.

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

It was Pope Benedict who put Pope John Paul II on the fast-track for possible sainthood just weeks after he died in 2005, responding to the chants of “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood Now!” that erupted during his funeral Mass. His canonization is now the fastest in modern times.
The canonization of St.John Paul II, who was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Poland in 1920, fulfilled the wish of millions of Poles who wanted to see their hero become a saint in their lifetimes.

In his home country, St. John Paul II, who was probably the most popular pope of the 20th century, was both a towering political and religious figure. (With reports from Fox News, AP)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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