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Francis praises saintly popes as good, heroic

Saturday - 4/26/2014, 12:40pm  ET

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has praised his two saintly predecessors on several occasions, hailing them as models for the faithful who inspire with their goodness and "heroic" virtues. Here's what he has said:

1. THE GIFT OF JOHN PAUL II

"I thank the Polish people and the church in Poland for the gift of John Paul II. We are all enriched by this gift. John Paul II continues to inspire us: His words, his writings, his gestures, his style of service. His suffering lived with heroic hope inspires us."

Videomessage to Poles on the eve of the canonization, April 25, 2014.

2. JOHN XIII, THE GOOD POPE

"Angelo Roncalli was a man who could transmit peace; a natural, serene, cordial peace; a peace that upon his election to the papacy showed itself to the world and was called goodness. It's so beautiful to find a priest, a good priest, with goodness. And this makes me think about something St. Ignatius Loyola used to say to the Jesuits -- I'm not making publicity here! -- when he spoke about the qualities that a superior should have. And he said: he must have this, that and the other thing, a long list of qualities. But at the end he said: 'And if he doesn't have these virtues, at least let him have goodness.' It's the essential thing. He was a father, a priest with goodness."

Speech to faithful from John's home diocese of Bergamo who traveled to Vatican for 50th anniversary of his death, June 3, 2013.

3. TESTIMONY FOR JOHN PAUL II

"He never wasted time, but he dedicated enough time when, for example, he would receive bishops. I can say this because as archbishop of Buenos Aires I had personal meetings with the servant of God and -- being somewhat shy and reserved -- at least once after telling him the things that were the subject of our meeting, I got up to leave to not let him waste any more time. And he took me by the arm and invited me to sit down again and he said: 'No! No! No! Stay' to continue speaking."

"I want to underline that John Paul II taught us suffering and dying, without hiding anything, and this to me is heroic."

Testimony by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the church tribunal investigating John Paul's sainthood, autumn 2005, according to Avvenire, newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference.

4. JOHN XXIII LET GOD GUIDE HIM

"John XXIII is a bit like the figure of the country priest, the priest who loves all the faithful, who knows how to care for the faithful and this he did as a bishop, and as a nuncio (ambassador). How many baptismal certificates did he forge in Turkey to help the Jews! He was courageous, a good country priest, with a great sense of humor, and great holiness. When he was nuncio, some did not support him in the Vatican, and when he would arrive in Rome to deliver something or to ask a question, certain offices would make him wait. But he never complained: he would pray the Rosary, say the breviary. He was meek and humble, and he always concerned himself with the poor. When Cardinal Casaroli (seasoned Vatican diplomat) returned from a mission - I believe it was from Hungary or from what was then Czechoslovakia, I don't remember which, though - the cardinal went to Pope John to tell him how the mission went, in that epoch of the diplomacy of 'small steps.' And the pope and Cardinal Casaroli met - 20 days later Pope John XXIII would be dead - and as the cardinal was leaving, the pope stopped him: 'Your Eminence - no, he wasn't yet a cardinal - Your Excellency, a question: Are you still going to see those young people?" He asked because Cardinal Casaroli had been going to the juvenile prison in Casal del Marmo and visiting with the young people. And Cardinal Casaroli said: "Yes, yes!" ''Never abandon them." This to a diplomat, who was returning from a diplomatic mission, a very important trip, that John XXIII said: "Never abandon the young". How great he was, how great! Then, he was also a man of the (Second Vatican) Council: he was a man docile to the voice of God, which came to him through the Holy Spirit, and he was docile to the Spirit. Pius XII was thinking of calling the Council, but the circumstances weren't right. I believe that John XXIII didn't think about the circumstances: he felt and acted. He was a man who let the Lord guide him."

To journalists aboard the papal plane en route to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2013.

5. MESSAGE FOR THE CHURCH

"To canonize them both together will be, for me, a message for the church: These two were wonderful, both of them."

To journalists aboard the papal plane en route to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2013.


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