Why Do Catholics Canonize Popes?

Writing at CNN, history professor David M. Perry says one reason Catholics want to canonize Pope John Paul II is that they believe "a saint is a holy person through whom God intervenes after his or death to aid the living."

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Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa in 1978 at the Vatican (AFP/Getty Images)

Catholics believe "a saint is a holy person through whom God intervenes after his or death to aid the living," writes David M. Perry, a history professor, at CNN, and this is is one reason Catholics want to canonize Pope John Paul II.

On Friday, Pope Francis announced the canonization of two of his predecessors: Pope John Paul II (pope from 1978 to 2005) and Pope John XXIII (1958-1963). That John-Paul II, whose pontificate dominated the late 20th century, is on a fast-track to sainthood should not come as a surprise.

At his death in 2005, the crowds chanted, "Santo subito!" (sainthood now!). The Vatican verified his first miracle, the curing of a French nun of Parkinson's, from which he also suffered, just two months after his death. He was beatified in 2011 and his second miracle, the healing of a Costa Rican woman with an aneurism after her family prayed at one of his shrines, was ratified that same year.

John XXIII's canonization, however, was not on the radar, but it makes sense. John presided over the Second Vatican Council, the great midcentury meeting that completely transformed modern Catholicism, and which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Pope Francis has emphasized the divine nature of this council's work frequently over the last few months and has waived the requirement that two miracles be credited to his intervention. 

Read David M. Perry's entire piece at CNN.

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