Two Popes Are About to Become Saints

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The Vatican announced today that both Pope John Paul II and one of his predecessors, Pope John XXIII, will be canonized as Roman Catholic saints, even though one of them has not met the usual requirements for sainthood. No date has been given for the canonization ceremony, but it is expected to come before the end of this year, which is the 50th anniversary of John XXIII's death.

The rules of canonization require that two miracles be attributed to the intercession of the deceased person, with one of those miracles coming after the beatification process. (The most common miracle attributed to modern saints is usually a sick person making an unexplained recovery after praying to the deceased's name.) The Vatican never verified a second miracle for John XXIII, but the Pope has the authority to make special dispensationsJohn XXIII served as Pope from just 1958 until 1963, but had a massive influence on the modern Church by calling the Second Vatican Council, which launched a major effort to modernize Church procedure and teachings.

One source of the special dispensation for John XXIII might be the anger over the very speedy canonization process for John Paul II, who has been dead for only eight years. His will be one of the quickest canonizations in centuries, even as beloved icons like John XXIII and Mother Teresa have had to wait decades. 

On Friday, Pope Francis also released his first official encyclical, titled "Lumen fidei" or "The Light of Faith." Though it will be credited to Francis, it was originally drafted by Pope Benedict XVI before his retirement and bears the hallmarks of his earlier works. You can read the entire paper on the Vatican website.

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