The only thing shocking to local Catholics about the canonization of both Popes John XXIII and John Paul II was the timing.
“They usually wait a longer time until being declared a saint, usually 10 years,” said the Rev. Adrian Wilde, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Grove City. “They’re saintly in many different ways and the church is honoring them for what they’ve done in their lives.”
Wilde said he believes the timing of canonizing Pope John XXIII may have to do with the 50th anniversary of his establishment of the Second Vatican Council, which ran from 1962 to 1965.
“The Second Vatican Council helped modernize the church,” said Billy Atwell, director of communications at the Diocese of Venice. “Pope John Paul II helped put a face on capitalism. He was working to help make people understand the purpose of capitalism as a means to uphold human dignity.”
One of the lives John XXIII touched is Port Charlotte resident Cesare Frustaci, a 77-year-old Holocaust survivor. Prior to being Pope, Monsignor Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, as the Cardinal of Venice, stepped in for Frustaci to help him reunite with his mother in Italy following World War II. Frustaci appeared at Gulf Cove’s Hope Lutheran Church in May, and regularly volunteers with the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida in Naples to share his story.
“Pope Francis is canonizing these men and they are still very fresh on our minds,” Atwell said. “It makes sense that they’re picked, because we’re still seeing residual impact from their lives. Pope John Paul II had two miracles attributed to him.”
Atwell said the canonizations are exciting for the church.
“In a sense, it’s continuing a legacy,” he said. “I think it’s time to rejoice and reflect.”
Attempts to get comments from Catholic churches in North Port and Port Charlotte were unsuccessful.