Pope Francis has cleared both Pope John Paul II and Pope John the XXIII for sainthood. The news was celebrated Friday at a Lake View parish that bears the former's name.
The two Holy Fathers will likely be canonized at the Vatican before the end of the year. Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to John Paul involving a Costa Rican woman who was inexplicably cured from a deadly brain aneurysm after being given only a month to live.
The Polish Pope, who died in 2005, was put on a fast-track to sainthood by then-Pope Benedict the XVI. Pope Benedict allowed the Beatification process for the popular Pontiff to begin just weeks after his death.
Father Peter Karalus, pastor of Blessed John Paul II parish in Lake View, described his reaction upon hearing the news.
"Our initial reaction here at Blessed John Paul II parish was one of enthusiasm and excitement, a little bit of surprise. We knew that John Paul was on the fast track for canonization. The rumors were out there that an announcement might be soon," Father Karalus says.
Father Karalus's parish is believed to be one of only two in the U.S. that bears the name of John Paul II. The name was chosen by former Bishop Edward Kmiec when two former parishes, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Saint Vincent DePaul, merged in 2011.
The parish would replace the word "Blessed" with "Saint" in its name upon canonization.
Father Karalus says met the Holy Father as he was making his way through the priesthood, once having celebrated mass with John Paul II in his private chapel.
The pastor described the day as "completely peaceful and serene," saying John Paul's "holiness just exuded from him." He calls it the "high point of his priesthood."
Father Karalus says his parishioners greeted the news with much excitement. He says once the canonization is complete, a celebration will be held at the parish.
"Blessed John Paul, his ministry, his witness, his faith that he shared with so many, it's a day for everyone to celebrate, not just for us here," the he says.
Pope Francis says he will canonize Pope John the XXIII (1958-1963), who died 50 years ago, despite him being credited with only one miracle. Normally, two confirmed miracles are required for sainthood.
Bishop Richard Malone issued the following statement Friday:
This is a day of great joy for the entire Catholic Church. By approving the canonization of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII, Pope Francis has recognized the selfless contributions of two holy men who shepherded the Church during very different, very important times.
John XXIII’s leadership during the Second Vatican Council, combined with John Paul II’s guidance as the Church truly became global, his call to the New Evangelization, outreach to inactive Catholics and transformation of the culture, all worked to inspire countless people to witness their faith and work to better the lives of others.
It is my prayer and hope that these modern day saints will inspire people, especially the young, to faithfully serve the Church and all of mankind.