Two former popes will become saints Sunday. Preparations are underway at the Vatican, where a large crowd is expected. But there is controversy attached to the ceremony.
It's an event that may well never be repeated, in effect, four popes in one place at the same time, CBS News' Allen Pizzey reported. Pope Francis will declare that two are in Vatican City in spirit as saints while the man he succeeded — Benedict XVI — looks on.
Preparations are being made for as many as a million people to attend a ceremony that is controversial on several levels. Rules have been waived or, in the view of some, not given enough weight.
John Paul II was put on the fast track of a process that usually takes decades, if not centuries.
In response to chants of "Santo Subito," meaning "make him a saint now" at John Paul II's funeral, Pope Benedict XVI dispensed with the mandated five-year waiting period for the work on proving sainthood to begin.
In the case of John XXIII, beloved by Catholics as "the good pope," his life of holiness was judged to be a substitute for one of the two miracles that are required for canonization.
A nun told the story of the now-deceased member of her order who said she was cured thanks to intercession by John XXIII.
In response to those who asked whether or not miracles can be proven, there was Floribeth Diaz, who said she was cured of a brain aneurism thanks to John Paul II. She said, "A lot of people say that I'm crazy, but this crazy lady is healthy and that's the most important thing for me."
John Paul II and John XXIII were seen as coming from opposite poles of a divided Catholic Church, and some claim one is being canonized to balance out the other.
Father Thomas Rosica, Vatican spokesman, disagrees. He said, "We had the liberal and the conservative, and all of those differences pale in reality, because, what is a canonization? It's a declaration of holiness and proximity to God and people being offered up as role models for us."
Many of the people in the audience, Pizzey noted, will have seen one, and in some cases, both of the new saints when they were still alive, and that's something that hasn't happened since saints were proclaimed by public acclamation centuries ago.