For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, two Popes will be elevated to sainthood in a dual
canonization at the Vatican on April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII,
two of the most influential and beloved Popes of the twentieth century, will be declared saints on that day.
Another first for the Catholic Church will be the presence of two living Pontiffs at the ceremony —
Pope Francis who will be officiating and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
National President Delphine Huneycutt is honored to represent the Polish Women’s Alliance of America
membership at the celebrations.
She is part of a large delegation of representatives of Polish American organizations who will be joined in
Rome by hundreds of thousands of dignitaries, clergy, faithful, and pilgrims in Rome, many of them
expected to come from Poland, the home country of Pope John Paul II. And millions of people all
around the globe will be watching the ceremonies live on television.
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojty?a on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland. As a young man, he experienced the brutality of the Nazis during World War II and participated in the Polish resistance. He enrolled in an underground seminary in 1942 and was ordained a priest in 1946. He then went to Rome to continue his education. As a young priest he continued to pursue his interests in literature and drama, and wrote many volumes of poetry and a number of plays. He also loved the outdoors and activities like hiking and skiing. He returned to Poland and was elevated to Bishop of Kraków in 1958. From 1962 to 1965, he was recalled to Rome and participated in the Second Vatican Council, working closely with Pope John XXIII on reforms to the liturgy and outreach to other religions. He was made a Cardinal in 1967 and elected Pope on October 16, 1978, becoming the first non-Italian pontiff in over 400 years. He took the name of John Paul II to honor his predecessor, John Paul I, who had died only after one month in office.
His elevation to the papacy changed the geopolitical balance in the world, adding moral support to the efforts of the Solidarity trade union in Poland to stand up to the communist regime that led to the democratization of the Eastern Bloc countries and the ultimate fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. His several trips to Poland turned into massive demonstrations of popular support for both religious and political freedom. He appealed to all nations to recognize the inherent dignity of man and his right to self-determination, self-expression, and freedom of religious practice. John Paul II used the Chair of Peter to preach the gospel to all nations around the world. His reign was the third-longest of all the popes, lasting 26 years. He traveled over 750,000 miles during his papacy, reaching out to millions of people from all walks of life. In his audiences he received over 17 million people and met with millions more during liturgical celebrations held in Rome and all around the world. He initiated World Youth Day and celebrated 19 of them in many countries during his reign, touching the lives of millions of young people and bringing them closer to the Church. His legacy is one of peace and conciliation, and he remains one of the most beloved and popular pontiffs of all times. He died on April 2, 2005 and was beatified on May 1, 2011.
He will always be remembered as the People’s Pope, who made a huge impact on the world, both politically and spiritually, preaching love, peace, humility, and respect for life, and touching millions and millions of people.
Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII, known as the Good Pope, served as head of the Roman Catholic Church from 1958 to 1963 — a short but memorable reign that resulted in many changes to the liturgy, outreach to other religions, and calls for solidarity among nations and for world peace. When on October 20, 1958, the cardinals assembled in conclave and elected Angelo Roncalli as pope, many regarded him, because of his age, as a transitional pope, little realizing that the pontificate of this man of 76 years would mark a turning point in history and initiate a new age for the Church. He took the name of John in honor of the precursor and the beloved disciple of Christ — but also because it was the name of a long line of popes whose pontificates had been short. He did only serve as pope for five years, but his pontificate changed the face of the Church and its role and image in the world.
In his first public address Pope John XXIII expressed his concern for reunion with separated Christians and for world peace. Less than three months after his election, he announced that he would hold a diocesan synod for Rome, convoke an ecumenical council for the universal Church, and revise the Code of Canon Law. The synod, the first in the history of Rome, was held in 1960; Vatican Council II was convoked in 1962; and the Pontifical Commission for the Revision of the Code was appointed in 1963.
Unlike previous councils, Vatican Council II was unique as it did not issue any new dogmas, nor settle any grave heresies prevailing at that time. Instead, the council became known for its renewal of Catholic doctrine in modern times. Several institutional changes resulted from the council, such as ecumenical efforts towards dialogue with other religions. The most palpable change which followed the council included the widespread use of vernacular language in Holy Mass instead of Latin, which is practiced through today, bringing the liturgy and sacraments closer to the faithful, and making them more accessible and meaningful. Pope John’s efforts to bring the Church into modern times and to make it more tolerant and inclusive are among his greatest achievements.
Polish Women’s Alliance of America