WASHINGTON (CNS) — Religious, political and secular leaders congratulated the Catholic Church on the April 27 canonization of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II. A summary of the statements follows:

— Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “The church’s formal proclamation makes officials what so many of us already believed: that by God’s grace these two beloved leaders of our church modeled courage, holiness, charity and attentiveness to the call of Jesus. Both of them, in their own unique way, have shown us what Pope Francis has rightly called ‘the joy of the Gospel,’ the joy of knowing and following Jesus Christ. In celebrating and imitating their lives, may we all hear anew the call of Jesus and, with enthusiasm, follow in the footsteps of these two great saints to be ‘full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction.'”


— Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean, and Rabbi Yitzchok Alderstein, director of interfaith affairs, Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles: “The two new saints of the church help establish a corollary that all people can embrace: sometimes all that is necessary for the triumph of good is that very good men do something. From principled and determined expressions of the spirit, the world can see major and permanent change in the way large parts of humanity relate to each other.”

— President Barack Obama: “The work and witness of both Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II shaped not only the Catholic Church but the world. Pope John XXIII articulated powerful roles for the church in the cause of global peace and justice, and by convening the Second Vatican Council he revolutionized not only aspects of worship but the Catholic Church’s relationship with other faith communities. Pope John Paul II helped inspire the Solidarity movement in Poland, a movement that spread and eventually helped to end communism in Eastern Europe, and he spoke out forcefully against apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Rwanda. He had a special rapport with young people, drawing many of them to the church’s work and teachings.”

— Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Our country was fortunate to have been visited by St. John Paul II on three occasions. In 2002, during his last visit to Canada, he joined hundreds of thousands of youth from around the world in Toronto for World Youth Day, a pilgrimage which he initiated and that continues to be celebrated by millions of youth worldwide every three years. Both St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II are linked by their service to God and their quest for peace, defense of human dignity and justice, which are values that resonate deeply in Canada.”

— Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs, American Jewish Committee: “We rejoice with our Catholic friends at this unique recognition being given to the two popes who were also the ones most responsible for the dramatic revolution in Catholic-Jewish relations in our times. Thanks to the their vision and leadership, the Catholic Church today affirms its unique profound rootedness in Judaism, promotes the closest of respectful relations with the Jewish people and condemns anti-Semitism as a sin. It is no exaggeration to say that in terms of the Christian-Jewish relationship, these great men took us from darkness to light, from pain to joy and from alienation to brotherhood.”

— Abraham H. Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League: “For us in the Jewish community, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII have already been saints for a long time. They are towering men whose visionary leadership and groundbreaking reforms transformed Jewish-Catholic relations and reversed 2,000 painful years of church-based anti-Semitism.”

— Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington after concelebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican at the canonization: “Through the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII called upon us to present faithfully and in its entirety the teaching of the church but in a way that would attract people to the beauty of the teaching. He had a background in diplomatic service to the church where he put into practice the idea of working with people, collaborating with people and listening to people. When he was elected pope, it seemed natural for him to say that we need to listen to the church throughout the world to see how best we can carry on her work.”

“The magisterium of John Paul II covered almost every aspect of human experience and the church. He wrote and spoke about the divine mercy of Jesus, the unconditional love of our heavenly Father, the power of the Holy Spirit and the affection of our Blessed Mother Mary. He taught us about the gift of the Eucharist, the truth and vocation of the human person, the beauty of a moral life, the blessing of marriage and family, the priesthood, social justice, the dignity of every human life and more. Those teachings alone have earned him the title ‘John Paul the Great.'”