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Two popes to be made saints in historic ceremony

Published on Apr 27, 2014 9:54 AM

VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - As many as one million people are expected in Saint Peter's Square and nearby streets of Rome on Sunday to witness the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II, two of the great popes of the 20th century.

John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and set up the modernising Second Vatican Council, and John Paul II, the Pole who reigned for nearly 27 years and played a leading role on the world stage, will be declared saints by Pope Francis.

Francis' own huge popularity has added extra appeal to the unprecedented ceremony to raise two former leaders of the church to sainthood. But while both were widely revered, there has also been criticism that John Paul II, who only died nine years ago, has been canonised too quickly.

Groups representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests also say he did not do enough to root out a scandal that emerged towards the end of his pontificate and which has hung over the church ever since.

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