PHOTOS: Pope Francis Presides Over Historic Day Of 4 Popes - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

PHOTOS: Pope Francis Presides Over Historic Day Of 4 Popes

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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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VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis has declared his two predecessors John XXIII and John Paul II saints in an unprecedented canonization ceremony made even more historic by the presence of retired Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis recited the saint-making formula in Latin, saying that after deliberating, consulting and praying for divine assistance "we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church."

Benedict was sitting off to the side with other cardinals in St. Peter's Square during the rite at the start of Sunday's Mass. He and Francis briefly greeted one another after Francis arrived.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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(NBC NEWS)- Sunday’s unprecedented dual papal canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII will be historic, both for the institution of the Catholic Church and because of the event's sheer scale. Here’s a look at how the two late popes achieved sainthood and how that honor will be celebrated in numbers.

For more on the story: http://nbcnews.to/QQlQWa

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