VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just days before Pope Francis was set to canonize two of his predecessors, he expressed his hopes the two soon-to-be saints would continue to inspire the whole church in its mission.
The pope sent a video message via Polish television and radio April 24 thanking the church and nation “for the gift of John Paul II. We are all enriched by this gift.”
The pope also sent a written message to the Italian Diocese of Bergamo, the home of Blessed John XXIII, to honor the saint-to-be and “the great gift that his holiness has been for the universal church.” The Vatican released copies of the two messages April 25.
“It is a special joy that the canonization of Pope Roncalli (John XXIII) occurs together with that of Blessed John Paul II, who carried forward during his long pontificate that renewal” Blessed John desired with the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis wrote.
In his video message, the pope also thanked journalists who would be covering the event April 27, allowing people not in Rome to still follow the canonizations through mass media.
“I am grateful to John Paul II, as are all people of God, for his tireless service, his spiritual guidance, for having ushered the church into the third millennium of faith and for his extraordinary witness of holiness,” he said in his video message.
He echoed retired Pope Benedict XVI’s words from the beatification Mass in 2011, citing, “he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty.”
“John Paul II continues to inspire us. His words, his writings, his gestures, his style of service inspire us. The suffering he went through with heroic hope inspires us. His complete trust in Christ, redeemer of man, and in the mother of God, inspires us,” Pope Francis said.
He said he hoped the canonizations would give the church in Poland “a new impetus” in its work and commitment to helping the family, young people, poor people and religious vocations.
“I’m pleased by the fact that, God willing, I will visit for the first time your country for World Youth Day” in 2016, he added.
In his written message to the Diocese of Bergamo, the pope said he hoped Blessed John’s life and legacy would continue to inspire the church today, which is “called to live the sweet and comforting joy of evangelization and to be companions along every person’s journey” in life.
Even non-Catholics in society should find inspiration from Blessed John as they seek “new ways that are appropriate for the times to support coexistence based on the perennial values of fraternity and solidarity,” he wrote.