Obama Marks Canonization of Popes Who 'Shaped Not Only the Church But the World'

President Obama marked the canonization of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II with a statement moments ago:

Today, Michelle and I join Catholics around the world in celebrating the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

The work and witness of both Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II shaped not only the Catholic Church but the world.  Pope John XXIII articulated powerful roles for the Church in the cause of global peace and justice, and by convening the Second Vatican Council he revolutionized not only aspects of worship but the Catholic Church’s relationship with other faith communities.  Pope John Paul II helped inspire the Solidarity movement in Poland, a movement that spread and eventually helped to end communism in Eastern Europe, and he spoke out forcefully against apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Rwanda.  He had a special rapport with young people, drawing many of them to the Church’s work and teachings.

We celebrate these Saints and the leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis, and we look forward to continuing to work with Pope Francis and Catholics around the world to advance peace and justice for all people.


Obama sent former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta to the Holy See to lead the U.S. delegation at Sunday’s Mass. Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Assistant to the President and Director of Legislative Affairs Katie Beirne Fallon rounded out the representatives.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement Sunday noting that “in a world where we are often preoccupied with the trivial, what a blessing it is to take a day to celebrate heroic virtue.”

“In John XXIII, we have the example of the good shepherd who listened and cared for God’s people with a true and tender heart. John Paul II showed us God’s presence as a liberator, preaching a culture of life and forming a ‘holy alliance’ with President Reagan that sped communism’s demise in Eastern Europe. I look to John Paul II often as an example of complete devotion to the Virgin Mary, which is represented in the motto of his papacy: ‘Totus Tuus,'” continued Boehner.

“First God gave us these men of immense gifts, and now He makes them saints to look out for us,” he added. “It is truly a day to rejoice and be glad.”


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised “two great leaders of the church – men of courage and compassion who left an indelible mark on our faith and our world.”

“Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, welcoming the faithful more deeply into our church and our liturgy. He urged peace in the darkest hours of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and took critical steps to heal relations with the Jewish community worldwide. In that same tradition and spirit, Pope John Paul II spoke with a clear and powerful voice on behalf of all peoples yearning for freedom and justice, traveling to the far corners of globe to deliver the goodness of his word,” she said in a statement Saturday.

“These Popes’ messages of peace and hope lift our hearts and strengthen our souls.”

Last month Boehner, a Catholic, invited Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress. Pelosi joined Boehner on the invitation.


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