Two Popes raised to the honours of the altar

2013-07-05 L’Osservatore Romano

John XXIII and John Paul II “have two points of common reference: the Council, as an event of the Gospel of charity and of peace, and the Church, as a generous and thoughtful mother, who makes herself close to every human being, to give comfort, help, support and hope. John is the Good Pope, the father of all, Catholics and non-Catholics. He embraced humanity and blessed it. John Paul II is the Pope who in his hundreds of journeys visited the entire world, becoming a messenger of peace and a promoter of life, of brotherhood among peoples, and of generous hospitality to the needy”. This was said by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in an interview with our newspaper, on the occasion of the Decree promulgated by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow, recalls his years with John Paul II. “I spent almost forty years next to a saint”, he said, “working at his side in Krakow and in the Vatican. They have asked me several times when it was that John Paul II became a saint. I think that he became a saint in his youth. Karol Wojtyła was a normal boy, sharp and sensitive, full of energy and the joy of life. But from the beginning there was something 'more' in him. It is not easy to decipher this mystery, but there is no doubt that at the centre of Karol Wojtyła's existence was God. Jesus Christ was his first and greatest love. And he remained faithful to the end, to his last breath. This fidelity to love was manifested in prayer and in service. Karol Wojtyła maintained a dialogue with his Creator and Redeemer. More especially he met with Him in the sanctuary of his heart. He also sought God in creation, in the beauty of nature, but especially in men. His trips with young people, spent by lakes and in the mountains, were legendary”.

Archbishop Loris Capovilla speaks of John XXIII's holiness, saying it was lived “in the everyday of his  existence, remaining by his side, almost breathing it. There is a principle expressed by St John Chrysostom which Angelo Roncalli was always inspired by: that simplicity and prudence are the culmination of philosophy. Throughout his life, he sought to follow that route... I am also happy that the canonization of Pope John XXIII will coincide with the Year of Faith, faith was his great love. One day he said to me: ‘I never had any doubts about faith. I feel at peace’. And I read in some notes from his youth as a priest: ‘The first treasure of my soul is faith, the holy faith, simple and sincere from my parents and my elders. I will be scrupulous and austere with myself because in no way can the purity of my faith suffer any harm’”.