The Popes’ canonization

The joint canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II is an extraordinary event for the Catholic Church. It is an action by Pope Francis aimed at uniting different—and at times rival—currents in the church by elevating the two men of God to sainthood.

John XXIII, also known as the “Good Pope,” revolutionized the institution in the five years of his papacy (1958-63) bringing the church closer to its parishioners. The Second Vatican Council, initiated by John XXIII, blazed a new trail by modernizing the church, making it more accessible to the faithful.

For his part, John Paul II had the second-longest papacy, characterized by his opposition to communism and cutting back on certain achievements obtained through Vatican II, which was considered leftist by the church’s more conservative sector.

They both represent different currents that have been at odds over the decades, when each claimed to be the correct interpretation of the message of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis’s arrival represents another revolution, which, with today’s canonizations, brings the Catholic Church together in joy. It is no coincidence that these two popes are the only people from the 20th century elevated to sainthood in the last five and next five canonizations.

The canonization process was very quick—and even controversial—given John Paul II’s response to the cases of child sex abuse by priests. Nonetheless, the popular calls for “santo subito” (sainthood now) upon the Pole’s death opened the door for today’s ceremony.

Through these two men of God, Pope Francis continues his call to set differences aside—giving each side its saint—to focus on the mission of saving souls and helping those most in need. This is a celebration for the church sending a profound message of unity.