U.S. president Barack Obama issued a statement Monday noting the canonization of both John XXIII and John Paul II over the weekend, paying tribute to their work in the Church and society.
“Today, Michelle and I join Catholics around the world in celebrating the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II,” he said April 28. “The work and witness of both Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II shaped not only the Catholic Church but the world.”
He noted John XXII’s advocacy “in the cause of global peace and justice,” and said that in calling Vatican II, “he revolutionized not only aspects of worship but the Catholic Church’s relationship with other faith communities.”
Obama discussed John Paul II’s role in inspiring the Solidarity movement, which “eventually helped to end communism in Eastern Europe,” and his forceful words against apartheid in South Africa and the Rwandan genocide.
“He had a special rapport with young people, drawing many of them to the Church’s work and teachings,” Obama stated.
The two late Popes were canonized April 27 during a Mass said by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.
During his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis said, “At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.”
“Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side,” Pope Francis preached.
“They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother, because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles,” the Pope said. “These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.”
Obama, concluding his statement, said: “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.”