April 27, 2014
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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