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John XXIII: A tradition-breaking pope like Francis

Published on Apr 27, 2014 4:55 PM

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope John XXIII, who was made a saint with John Paul II on Sunday, surprised many by leading the Catholic Church to more open relations with the world.

When the man nicknamed "Good Pope John" became head of the Catholic Church on October 28, 1958 at the age of 77, many thought he would be a simple caretaker.

He had a determined character, however, and led a process of modernisation of the Church and closer ties with Judaism, inviting comparisons from Vatican watchers to the current reform-minded Pope Francis.

"There is a spiritual and ideological continuity between John XXIII and Francis," said Angelo Pansa, a historian specialising in John XXIII's reign.

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