The Catholic church is expected to declare Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII saints in a ceremony on Sunday,.
Pope John XXIII was in the papacy from 1958 to 1963 and is most famous for orchestrating the second Vatican Council, controversial for changing liturgy and traditions for Catholics all over the world to be simpler and easier for lay people to understand.
“He was pope for a very short time but was well-loved,” Bishop Joseph Strickland, of the Diocese of Tyler, said. “He was very jovial, a kind of grandfather type.”
The decisions from the council “created some rifts that still exist,” Strickland said, but most church leaders since have stood by the decisions.
“Popes since have emphasized that the decisions were guided by the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Pope John Paul II had a much longer papacy; He was pope from 1978 to 2005.“He’s most well-known for his outreach to youth,” Strickland said. “He began World Youth Day.”
John Paul also was known for his emphasis on the classic doctrines of the church, Strickland said.
“He had a firm hand in guiding and emphasizing teachings that were questioned,” he said. “He’ll go down in history as a pope who steered strongly as a teacher.”
Under John Paul, a vast index of Catholic teachings was published, called the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
“It’s a universal of the Catholic church and answers about every question you can imagine,” he said. “As someone who was a priest before that was released, it was a tremendous blessing.”
John Paul also was known as a much-beloved and popular pope, and is even credited with helping bring down Communism and the Soviet Union, Strickland said.
According to the Pew Research Center, it’s become incredibly rare for even popes to be declared saints.
“Roughly 30 percent of all popes are saints,” according to the Pew’s written release. “Starting with St. Peter, traditionally regarded as the first leader of the church after Christ’s death, 52 of the first 55 popes became saints during Catholicism’s first 500 years. In the last 1,000 years, just seven popes have been made saints, including the two being canonized on Sunday.”
And this is the first time in history that two popes have been canonized at once.
“It is an exciting day for the church,” Strickland said.