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The Papacy and Sainthood Connection

Pope Peter
Pope Peter

A closer look at the List of Popes in the Catholic Church will reveal that a lot of them have been declared saints in different times. A renewed interest in the connection between papacy and sainthood has surfaced with the recent announcement that Pope Francis has given  his approval for two past popes to be declared saints within the year. These two are Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

The approval came with the acceptance of the second miracle to be attributed to Pope John Paul II and the waiver of the traditionally required second miracle for Pope John XXIII. It is to be noted that the declaration of sainthood requires two miracles to be attributed to the candidate. One is required for beatification and the second one to confirm sainthood.

Known as the “globe trotting pope” and the “good pope” respectively, these two personalities have won the admiration of the public and the Vatican as well for their accomplishments while holding the papal position. Pope John Paul II has reached out to all almost all countries regardless of religious ideologies. Pope John XXIII was credited for enacting sweeping reforms towards the modernization of the Catholic Church through the Second Vatican Council.

It is worth mentioning that the first acknowledged pope of the Catholic Church, Simon Peter the Apostle of Jesus is also a declared saint. The same is true with a good number of popes included in the list. This fact seems to support the observation that the papacy tend to prepare human beings for sainthood.

Seventy eight of a total of two hundred sixty five popes have been declared saints. A large chunk of this number belong to the early popes as the number sharply decreased during the reform movements. The work assigned to the pope is so far-reaching and life-changing for the Catholic constituents that when taken seriously will certainly lead to the road to sainthood. However, there is nothing automatic about the papacy and sainthood connection.