Church to declare late Pope John Paul II a saint

Author: , Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published: Jul 04 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 08 2013 07:25:48 AM EDT
Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be canonized as saints, the Vatican announced Friday.

Local Catholic leaders said it was a joyous day for the church.

It was a special day at St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Catholic Church in Hellertown, Northampton Co.

"We are delighted with the news," said Superior Bernadette Chuk.

Pope John Paul II is praised for re-energizing the church, but he was also criticized for his handling of the sex scandal that rocked the church. He died in 2005 after a 27 year papacy.

"The Eucharistic prayer always includes a reference to the pope, and so the day he died was a hard day for the first time not to mention him a John Paul or pope," said Father Jerome Tauber.

Tauber said Pope John Paul II was a major influence in his life. He said one of his greatest memories was seeing his parents meet the pope in a general papal audience in 1978.

"He pointed, like are you married, and when they said yes, he took both of their hands together and blessed them.," said Tauber.

Vatican theologians said there were two miracles associated with Pope John Paul II, but only one for Pope John XXIII.

Pope Francis reportedly waived the second because of Pope John's role in the second Vatican council to help modernize the church In 1962.

"Mass in the vernacular language, the turning around of the altars so that the priests faced the congregation and many other changes in the church,"said Chuk.

Chuk of the St. Teresa Convent said she and the other sisters are excited to see the two former pontiffs reach sainthood.  It's a designation Pope John Paul II bestowed 482 times.

The Vatican hasn't released a canonization date, but it's expected to happen before the end of the year.