(RNS) Pope John Paul II participates in a procession in August, 2000. RNS file photo courtesy Universal Press Syndicate.

Pope to canonize John Paul II and John XXIII in April

ROME (RNS) Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be formally declared saints on April 27, 2014 — a bit of ticket-balancing by Pope Francis, who may be hoping to heal splits in the church by pairing the canonization of a pope who is a hero to the left and one who is a hero to the right.

A painting of Pope Paul VI, who issued the Humanae Vitae encycical in 1968, at the Casa Santa Maria dell'Umilta of the Pontifical North American College, Rome. Religion News Service file photo by Rene Shaw.

Pope Paul VI inches one step closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Paul VI, who guided the Catholic Church through a tumultuous period of change in the 1960s and 70s, took a crucial first step toward possible sainthood when Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (Dec. 20) recognized his predecessor’s “heroic virtues.” By Alessandro Speciale.