Benedict could attend canonizations, Vatican spokesman says

Rome, Italy, Oct 1, 2013 / 01:03 pm (CNA).- The director of the Holy See’s Press Office announced that Benedict XVI could participate in the canonization ceremony next April for Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII.

During a Sept. 30 press conference at the Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi did not rule out that the former Pontiff could be present at the canonizations. 

“There is not legal or doctrinal reason to keep Benedict XVI from taking part in a public ceremony,” he said.

It would be an unprecedented canonization ceremony: Pope Francis, accompanied by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, would canonize the initiator of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed John XXIII, as well as Blessed John Paul II, known as the pilgrim Pope.

Fr. Lombardi also commented on the choice of April 27 – Divine Mercy Sunday, which is held the second Sunday of Easter – for the canonizations.

He explained that the Holy Father chose this date because of John Paul II’s devotion to Divine Mercy and because his beatification also took place on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011, which fell on May 1. Pope John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.

He also said that because a large number of pilgrims are expected to attend the canonizations, the second Sunday of Easter will be ideal, allowing many travelers to come from around the world.

Fr. Lombardi also noted that during his interview on the flight home from Rio de Janeiro this summer, “the Pope made some spontaneous and sympathetic remarks about both Popes.”

Pope Francis “said that John Paul II was a great missionary like Saint Paul and that celebrating both canonizations at the same time should be a sign for the Church to appreciate the holiness of these papal witnesses of our times linked in different ways to the Second Vatican Council,” he observed.

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