Francis presides over historic day of 4 popes

Francis presides over historic day of 4 popes

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis delivers a speech during his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 18, 2013 . AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Updated Sunday, Apr 27 at 10:13 AM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Two 20th-century popes who changed the course of the Catholic Church have been elevated to sainthood.

Pope Francis has declared John the 23rd and John Paul the Second saints in a historic Vatican ceremony aimed at bringing together the conservative and progressive wings of the church.

Retired Pope Benedict joined Francis on the altar in St. Peter's Square, the first time a reigning and retired pope have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church.

An estimated 800,000 people filled the square, the streets around it and bridges over the Tiber River.

John was pope from 1958-1963. He is a hero to liberal Catholics for having convened the Second Vatican Council, which brought changes such as allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages rather than Latin.

John Paul helped topple communism and invigorated a new generation of Catholics during his quarter-century as head of the church. His defense of core church teaching on abortion, marriage and other hot-button issues heartened conservatives after the turbulent 1960s.

Pope Francis praised both men, John for having called the council and John Paul for helping implement it.

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120-c-14-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"never before happened"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports that never before has an acting and retired pope celebrated Mass together in public, much less at an event honoring two of their most famous predecessors. (27 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *120 (04/27/14)££ 00:14 "never before happened"

119-c-13-(Nicole Winfield, AP correspondent)-"streets and piazzas"-AP correspondent Nicole Winfield reports that the pope has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints before hundreds of thousands of people in a historic ceremony. (27 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *119 (04/27/14)££ 00:13 "streets and piazzas"

088-r-14-(Pope Francis,, presiding over sainthood ceremony at the Vatican)--Sound of Pope Francis presiding over sainthood ceremony at the Vatican. (27 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *088 (04/27/14)££ 00:14

089-r-29-(Choir,, during papal canonization.)-"music fades"-Sound of singers just before Pope Francis declares John XXIII and John Paul II saints in first-ever dual papal canonization. (27 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *089 (04/27/14)££ 00:29 "music fades"

006-r-32-(Sound of Pope Francis, at canonization ceremony)--Sound of Pope Francis declaring his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in a Mass made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict. (27 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *006 (04/27/14)££ 00:32

075-r-10-(Choir performing before the canonization ceremony,)--This is sound of the choir performing before the canonization ceremony at the Vatican. (27 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO OSS101: In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, right, embraces his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, during a ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 27, 2014. Pope Francis has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in an unprecedented canonization ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/L' Osservatore Romano, ho) (27 Apr 2014)

<<APPHOTO OSS101 (04/27/14)££

APPHOTO VAT210: Faithful gather in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 27, 2014. Pope Francis has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in an unprecedented canonization ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) (27 Apr 2014)

<<APPHOTO VAT210 (04/27/14)££

APPHOTO VAT191: The tapestries showing Pope John Paul II, left, and Pope John XXIII hang from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica as Pope Francis leads a solemn ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, April 27, 2014. Pope Francis has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in an unprecedented canonization ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) (27 Apr 2014)

<<APPHOTO VAT191 (04/27/14)££

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