Sunday 27 April, 2013 was an exciting day for Catholics as two 20th century Popes were canonised; all of us will remember Pope John Paul II and the older ones will recall Pope John XXIII. Two very different men who both left their mark on the Church and demonstrate that there are many ways to sanctity.
When gentle, elderly Angelo Roncalli was elected as Pope John XXIII the expectation was that he would be a "caretaker" Pope and although his pontificate did not last even five years, it was his calling of Vatican II 50 years ago that began the most wide ranging reforms in Church history. It was a momentous event in the life of the Church, the ramifications of which are still being felt today. Our current beloved Pope is in some ways reminiscent of John XXIII.
In contrast, Karol Wojtyla’s election saw the first Polish Pope take a much more visible stance on the world stage. Elected at a young age for a Pope, he was a fit and confident man who would lead the Church for over a quarter of a century. He travelled very widely to all corners of the world, began dialogues with other faiths including non-Christian and was the first media savvy Pope. He was subtley active in world politics and influential in the fall of communism .His very public health problems in the last years of his life did not deter him from his duty as we watched in admiration as the now frail Pontiff remained steadfast to the end.
There is a wealth of information in the Catholic media at the moment to celebrate these two new saints so if you have some time to spare, check out the links below. The Vatican has set up a special website, www.2popesaints.org, where you can follow the events in Rome, as well as having a presence on other social media such as Twitter.
The secular press also has some offerings: if you go to the ABC Religion and Ethics website there are a number of thoughtful articles on both these new saints as well as other aspects of the Papacy.
This is a very interesting time to be a Catholic with the election a year ago of Pope Francis who seems to have been universally welcomed by Catholics, and the world generally, as exactly what the Church needed and who has impressed us with his simple and humble lifestyle and his efforts to see these values reflected through the Church.
There are lots of articles available now looking back over the first year of his Papacy. A virtual book of sayings of Pope Francis along with photos has been released for the occasion and you can access it through this link "Do we want to become holy? Yes or No?"