Related video report by Jerome Socolovsky.
April 22, 2014 12:14 PM
John Paul II is certainly the better known of the two. The Polish pope journeyed to the far corners of the earth and his papacy is often believed to have accelerated the fall of Communism.
John XXIII only became pope in 1958 because the cardinals couldn’t decide whom they wanted, says Reese.
“He was an old man,” explained Reese. “They elected him as kind of a placesitter.”
But he convened the Second Vatican Council to modernize a seemingly anachronistic institution.
“This was an extraordinary move because we hadn’t had an ecumenical council like this in a long, long time,” Reese noted.
The council decided Mass no longer had to be in Latin and opened a dialogue with other faiths.
Some traditionalists feel John XXIII and the council went too far, while some liberals feel John Paul II was dogmatic and covered up clerical sex abuse. Francis wants to reconcile these groups, Reese explained.
“So this is a symbolic way for him to say we’re all one family,” he said. “We’re all united by Jesus Christ, and we can all come together to celebrate both of these men.”
The two popes are both examples for clergy today, according to Rev. Richard de Lillio, a professor of homiletics at Catholic University of America in Washington.
“I think what they had that every preacher should have is dynamism,” Lillio said, “and the second thing they had that every preacher should have is they preached what they believed and witnessed it.”
Fans of Francis say that also describes the current pope.