John XXIII and John Paul II to be canonised on same day in April

Joint canonisation

Pope Francis will canonise John Paul II and John XXIII on the same day next spring, a highly unusual move that was taken as a gesture designed to promote unity within the Roman Catholic Church, reports The New York Times in The SMH.

The two Popes, who have disparate followings among reformers and conservatives within the church, will be declared saints on April 27, Francis said during a meeting with cardinals at the Vatican. Each achieved considerable international stature: John Paul II for encouraging the fall of communism in his native Poland and across Eastern Europe, and John XXIII for assembling the liberalising Second Vatican Council, which ran from 1962 to 1965.

'To celebrate them together is a sign of appreciation of the holiness of two popes who paid witness to our time,' the Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said during a news conference on Monday.

Pope Francis arrives to lead a Holy Mass on the occasion of the Day for Catechists at St Peter's square at the Vatican on Sunday.

The Pope announced in July that he would canonise the two men but did not set a date, and there were initial indications that he would act this year. Fr Lombardi said April 27, the first Sunday after Easter, would be 'a good date for pilgrims who might already be in Rome.'

The date is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. John Paul II promoted the devotion to the Feast of the Divine Mercy and was beatified — a step toward canonisation — on that day in 2011, Father Lombardi noted.

FULL COVERAGE

John XXIII and John Paul II to be canonised on same day (SMH)

Pope to reveal sainthood dates (The Daily Telegraph)

Two popes to be made saints in April (SBS)

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