Popes John Paul II and John XXIII To Be Canonized In April

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Pope Francis has announced that Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27, 2014, reports the BBC. Polish John Paul, the first non-Italian Pope for more than 400 years, led the Catholic Church from 1978-2005 and Pope John was pontiff from 1958-1963.

The announcement for the date of the canonizations has been expected since July when Francis approved a second miracle attributed to John Paul, opening the way to the fastest canonization in modern times, the Guardian reports.

John Paul, who stood out for his friendly, globetrotting style, was a fierce critic of both communism and the excesses of capitalism, says the BBC. And while John has only been credited with one miracle since his death, he oversaw sweeping reforms to modernize the Church, says the Guardian.

John Paul II is popular among conservative Catholics while John XXIII is favored by the Church’s progressive wing. The decision to canonize the two at the same time appears designed to unify Catholics, the BBC reports.