Today we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy. Today is also the day we celebrate the canonization of two popes!
In his remarkably frank and informal press conference with journalists on the flight back from World Youth Day in Brazil in July 2013, Pope Francis spoke about his two sainted papal predecessors: John XXIII and John Paul II. He was asked by the journalist Valentina Alazraki, “What is, according to you, the model of holiness that emerges from them both and what is the impact that these popes have had on the church and you?”
Here are excerpts from Pope Francis’ long response to that question:
“John XXIII is a bit like the figure of the country priest, the priest who loves all the faithful, who knows how to care for the faithful and this he did as a bishop, and as a nuncio. How many baptismal certificates did he forge in Turkey to help the Jews [during the Holocaust]! He was courageous, a good country priest, with a great sense of humor, and great holiness….He was meek and humble, and he always concerned himself with the poor….
“Regarding John Paul II, I would say he was the great missionary of the church: he was a missionary, a man who carried the Gospel everywhere, as you know better than I. How many trips did he make? But he went! He felt this fire of carrying forth the word of the Lord. He was like Paul, like St. Paul, he was such a man; for me this is something great.”
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