The Odd Couple

Canonizing John XXIII & John Paul II

When the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints told Pope Francis that the conditions for the canonization of Pope John Paul II had been met, he asked about Pope John XXIII. His cause was not yet concluded, they replied, because the requisite second miracle had not been approved.

But Pope Francis was not prepared to allow John XXIII to be left behind. He is alleged to have told his friend Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, archbishop of Turin, that if he had been elected in the conclave of 2005, in which he ran second to Joseph Ratzinger, he might have called himself Pope John XXIV. Moreover, in his Civiltà Cattolica interview last year, he had quoted Pope John’s adoption of the motto “See everything; turn a blind eye to much; correct a little” as a model for his own style of governance.

So he took charge of the rules himself, waived the requirement for a second miracle in John XXIII’s case, and will canonize both popes together on April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday (so designated by John Paul).

The Polish church is said to dislike the pairing, fearing that it diminishes the stature of their man. That only goes to show how important it was for Francis to supply...

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About the Author

John Wilkins was editor of the Tablet of London from 1982 to 2003.