Wollongong bishop celebrates double pope canonisation

Bishop Peter Ingham at St Francis Xaviers Catholic Church. Pictuer: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Bishop Peter Ingham at St Francis Xaviers Catholic Church. Pictuer: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Wollongong Bishop Peter Ingham celebrated the canonisation of past popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday night with a Mass at Fairy Meadow.

The bishop described former Pope John Paul II as ‘‘dynamic’’ and ‘‘committed’’ to the church.

‘‘He was a very saintly person,’’ Bishop Ingham said.

‘‘He lived under hostile regimes, the Nazis and communists, and in spite of that it gave him a strength and commitment.’’

Bishop Ingham met John Paul II on several occasions, but his favourite memory was when his mother met the Pope.

She had served as a housekeeper for priests and was called to Sydney during the Pope’s visit.

‘‘My mother had never been overseas, so she used to joke and say, ‘the Pope came to me, I didn’t have to go to Rome’,’’ he said.

‘‘She had the great thrill of tidying his room and she put a meal down on the table in front of him.’’

Bishop Ingham also praised the former Pope John XXIII’s decision to call the Second Vatican Council, which included changing the Mass from Latin to English and other languages.

‘‘The impact he had in the short five years he was Pope has just gone on,’’ he said.

A tapestry portrait of Pope John Paul II hanging from the facade of St Peter's Basilica. Picture: REUTERS

A tapestry portrait of Pope John Paul II hanging from the facade of St Peter's Basilica. Picture: REUTERS

In Rome on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people filled St Peter’s Square and spilled out across the city as Pope Francis presided over a Mass beneath drizzly skies.

The crowds waved flags and banners as they moved through Rome.

More than 5000 priests and 1000 bishops, leaders and other dignitaries from more than 90 countries joined the throng of Catholics.

Pope Francis portrayed the two former popes as ‘‘men of courage’’ who shared a place in history.

‘‘They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,’’ he said in his homily.

‘‘They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful.’’

- with New York Times

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