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John Paul II: Poland's soon-to-be new saint

Pope John Paul II, who the Vatican said on Friday will be made a saint, was an inspirational figure who helped topple communism but alienated many Catholics with his conservative views. The first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years, and the first from eastern Europe, Polish-born Karol Wojtyla was immensely popular, eschewing the pomp that surrounded his predecessors and seeking contact with ordinary people.

Popes John Paul II, John XXIII to be made saints

Late popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be made saints of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Friday in a widely-awaited announcement, without specifying when the canonisations will occur. "The Supreme Pontiff approved... the canonisation of Blessed John XXIII... and decided to call a consistory also concerning the canonisation of Blessed John Paul II," it said in a statement.

Popes John Paul II, John XXIII to be made saints

Late popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be made saints of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Friday in a widely-awaited announcement, without specifying when the canonisations will occur. "The Supreme Pontiff approved... the canonisation of Blessed John XXIII... and decided to call a consistory on the canonisation of Blessed John Paul II," it said. dt/hmn

A humble pope in an august office

By John Lloyd (Reuters) - The most potent symbol to date of Pope Francis' five-month papacy is an empty chair. The chair — a large white throne — was to seat His Holiness in the Vatican this past Saturday. The pope was scheduled to hear a performance of Beethoven's ninth symphony, a long-planned event. But minutes before the performance Archbishop Rino Fisichella told the audience that "the Holy Father cannot be present because of an urgent piece of work which cannot be postponed."

Quebec to become home to only Holy door outside Europe

The first Holy door outside of Europe will soon grace one of the oldest Catholic parishes in North America, in the Canadian province of Quebec, a church official told AFP on Wednesday. The door is to be installed at Notre-Dame de Quebec cathedral in Quebec City's old quarter to mark the parish's 350th anniversary, and will be one of only seven in existence. Six others can be found in papal basilicas in Rome, as well as in Ars in France and Santiago de la Compostela in Spain.

Pakistan's Bhatti to speak at Vatican gathering

Pakistani religious freedom advocate Paul Bhatti, the brother of assassinated government minister Shahbaz Bhatti, will speak in front of Pope Francis and some 120,000 members of new Catholic religious movements on Saturday, the Vatican said. The international gathering is part of the Catholic Church's drive to inspire a "new evangelisation" forged by the pope's predecessor Benedict XVI and it is timed to coincide with Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit.

Catholic rebel group begins criticising new pope

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor PARIS (Reuters) - A rebel Catholic group at the heart of major controversies that plagued former Pope Benedict has begun criticising his successor Pope Francis for the popular approach he has taken since his election last month. In a letter to supporters this week, the head of the ultra- traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) asked whether the new pontiff's focus on serving people could be only "man-centred philanthropy" rather than true religious leadership.

New pope wins over US Catholics

His papacy has hardly begun, but 84 percent of Roman Catholics in the United States have a favorable view of Pope Francis, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday. "Francis is viewed much more favorably by US Catholics than Pope Benedict XVI was during the early days of his pontificate," said Pew's Forum on Religion and Public Life as it released its findings. Some 193 Catholics were among the 1,001 adult Americans that Pew's pollsters contacted by telephone on March 28 to 31, hard on the heels of the new pope's election on March 13.

Pope Francis visits John Paul II's tomb

Pope Francis on Tuesday visited the tomb of John Paul II at St Peter's Basilica, exactly eight years after the former pope's death, the Vatican said. "(...) The pope kneeled for a long time praying in front of Blessed John Paul II in the Chapel of St. Sebastian," it said in a statement, adding he also made brief stops in front of the tombs of John XXII and St. Pius X. Hugely popular John Paul II led the Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005 and was succeeded by Benedict XVI, who stunned the world in February with his decision to resign aged 85.

Easter offers year-round 'joy', pope tells faithful

The joy of Easter should be experienced all year round, Pope Francis said Monday, addressing thousands of pilgrims in St Peter's Square the day after the holiest day in the Christian calendar. The new pope, urging the faithful to "express in life the sacrament we received" on Easter Sunday in their behaviour and choices, said: "It is our daily commitment but also our daily joy." The crowd braved unseasonably cool temperatures to hear the first Latin American leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, speaking from a window in the Apostolic Palace overlooking the square.
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