Vol. XIX, No. 5
Two Popes to be Canonized
Consistory of Cardinals to Determine Date of Canonization Ceremony
by Helen Hull Hitchcock
Pope Francis has approved the canonization of two of the 20th century’s most influential and beloved popes: Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Pope John XXIII. The Holy Father’s decision was announced on July 5, the same day that his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, was released, and a month after the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope John XXIII. No dates for the canonization ceremonies have yet been set; however the pope has called for a consistory of cardinals within a few months to decide the dates of the canonizations.
Pope Francis approved a second miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II, who was beatified on May 1, 2011. This second miracle is the healing of Floribeth Mora, of Costa Rica, who was inexplicably cured of a cerebral aneurysm on May 1, 2011 — the very day of Pope John Paul II’s beatification.
Just after the press conference introducing the new encyclical, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, director of the Vatican Press Office, announced the forthcoming canonizations. He reported that at a meeting that morning with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, Pope Francis had approved the promulgation of the decree for canonization of Pope John Paul II. He also accepted the favorable votes of the ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation regarding raising Blessed John XXIII to sainthood, despite the lack of the usual second miracle. Father Lombardi said that there have been discussions among theologians and experts about whether it is necessary to have two distinct miracles for canonization. In any case, he said, the pope can dispense with the second miracle.
The Vatican also announced that Pope Francis had approved a miracle attributed to Monsignor Álvaro del Portillo, the successor of Saint Josemaría Escrivá as head of Opus Dei, thus clearing the way for his beatification. (Since 2005, beatification ceremonies are held in the country of the person’s origin rather than at the Vatican.)
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła (May 18, 1920 – April 2, 2005) was the 264th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, from October 22, 1978, until his death, almost 27 years later. His was the second-longest pontificate after Pius IX’s 31-year reign. He was the only Polish pope, and the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI, who died in 1523. He was among the most traveled leaders in the world, and among the most influential. He beatified 1,340 and canonized 483 people — more than the combined total of all his predecessors for five centuries.
After Pope John Paul II’s death, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, waived the usual five-year period to initiate his cause for canonization. Pope Benedict XVI declared Pope John Paul II venerable in December 2009 and “blessed” on May 1, 2011, the feast of Divine Mercy. His feast day is October 22, the anniversary of his election to the papacy, and the bishops of the United States added his memorial to the liturgical calendar (see more on his beatification: wf-f.org/JPIIBeatification.html).
Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (November 21, 1883 – June 3, 1963) was the 261st pope, from October 28, 1958 until his death. The Patriarch of Venice from 1953 until the time of his election as pope, he was the first pope in more than 500 years to select the name John. He convened the Second Vatican Council, which opened on October 11, 1962. He died six months later.
He was beatified on September 3, 2000, by Pope John Paul II, on the same day as Pope Pius IX. His feast day is October 11, the anniversary of the first day of the Second Vatican Council (see wf-f.org/JohnXXIII.html).
Pope John XXIII – Moonlight Speech
On the night of October 11, 1962, at the end the first day of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII appeared at the window of the Apostolic Palace to greet nearly half a million people who had gathered in the piazza for a torchlight prayer vigil for the Council’s success. Pope John spoke spontaneously from his apartment window. His speech is known as the Discorso della Luna or “Moonlight Speech”:
Dear sons and daughters,
I feel your voices! Mine is just one lone voice, but it sums up the voice of the whole world.
And here, in fact, all the world is represented here tonight. It could even be said that even the moon hastens close tonight, that from above it might watch this spectacle that not even St. Peter’s Basilica, over its four centuries of history, has ever been able to witness.
We ask for a great day of peace. Yes, of peace! “Glory to God, and peace to men of goodwill.” If I asked you — if I could ask of each one of you: “Where are you from?” The children of Rome, especially represented here, would respond: “ah, we are the closest of children, and you are our bishop.” Well, then, sons and daughters of Rome, always remember that you represent “Roma, caput mundi” [Rome, capital of the world], which through the design of Providence it has been called to be across the centuries.
My own person counts for nothing — it is a brother who speaks to you, become a father by the will of our Lord — but all together, fatherhood and brotherhood and God’s grace, give honor to the impressions of this night, which are always our feelings, which now we express before heaven and earth: Faith, Hope, Love — love of God, love of brother, all aided along the way in the Lord’s holy peace for the work of the good. And so, let us continue to love each other, to look out for each other along the way; to welcome whoever comes close to us, and set aside whatever difficulty it might bring.
When you head home, find your children. Hug and kiss your children and tell them: “This is the hug and kiss of the Pope.” And when you find them with tears to dry, give them a good word. Give anyone who suffers a word of comfort. Tell them, “The Pope is with us especially in our times of sadness and bitterness.” And then, all together, may we always come alive — whether to sing, to breathe, or to cry, but always full of trust in Christ, who helps us and hears us — let us continue along our path.
Helen Hull Hitchcock (1939-2014) was editor of the <em>Adoremus Bulletin</em>, which she co-founded. She was also the founding director of Women for Faith & Family and editor of its quarterly journal, Voices. She published many articles and essays in a wide range of Catholic journals, and authored and edited <em>The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God</em> (Ignatius Press 1992), a collection of essays on issues involved in translation. She contributed essays to several books, including <em>Spiritual Journeys</em>, a book of “conversion stories” (Daughters of St. Paul). Helen lectured in the US and abroad, and appeared frequently on radio and television, representing Catholic teaching on issues affecting Catholic women, families, and Catholic faith and worship.