VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Friday cleared two of the 20th century's most influential popes to become saints, approving a miracle needed to canonize Pope John Paul II and waiving Vatican rules to honor Pope John XXIII.

It was a remarkable show of papal authority and confirmed Francis' willingness to bend church tradition when it comes to things he cares deeply about. Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council's role in shaping the church today.

Francis approved a decree that a Costa Rican woman's inexplicable cure from a deadly brain aneurism was the "miracle" needed to canonize John Paul. More significantly, he decided that John XXIII, who convened Vatican II, could be declared a saint even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis had the power to dispense with such requirements and could proceed with only one confirmed miracle to John's name.

The ceremony is expected before the end of the year. The date of Dec. 8 has been floated as likely, given it's the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church that honors Mary, to whom both saintly popes were particularly devoted. Polish prelates continue to press for October, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Polish-born John Paul's election, but Vatican officials have suggested that's too soon to organize such a massive event.

The announcement came on a remarkable day melding papacies past and present: It opened with Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attending their first Vatican ceremony together, sitting side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens. It continued with the publication of Francis' first encyclical, a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired but was signed by Francis. And it climaxed with Francis' decision to canonize two other predecessors.

Each event, historic on its own, would have captured headlines. But the canonization announcement capped them all, reflecting the priorities of this unique pontificate that has already broken so many rules and traditions, from Francis' decision to shun papal vestments to his housing arrangements, living in the Vatican hotel rather than the stuffy Apostolic Palace.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican analyst, said the decision to canonize both popes was a "brilliant move to unify the church," given that each pope has his own admirers and critics.

"With the joint announcement, Pope Francis is saying we do not have to choose between popes, we can honor and revere both as holy men who served the church well in their times," he wrote on his blog for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.

Vatican II, which John XXIII opened a year before his 1963 death, opened the church to people of other faiths and allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the languages of the faithful, rather than Latin. In the years since it closed in 1965, though, it has become a source of division in the church, with critics blaming a faulty interpretation of Vatican II's true meaning on the fall in priestly vocations and the "crisis" in the church today.

To anyone who has been paying attention, Francis' decision to canonize John Paul and John XXIII should come as no surprise: The Jesuit was made a cardinal by John Paul, who attended Vatican II, and is very much a priest of John's legacy.

On the anniversary of John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both John Paul and John XXIII — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

"Two different popes, very important to the church, will be announced saint together - it's a beautiful gesture," said the Rev. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for Poland's Catholic bishops, who like most Poles was overjoyed by the news of John Paul's impending canonization but impatient to know the date.

Francis will set the date at an upcoming meeting of cardinals.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the miracle that brought John Paul to the ranks of saints concerned a Costa Rican woman, Floribeth Mora, who on Friday broke months of silence to tell her story in public, surrounded by her family, doctors and church officials at a news conference in the archbishop's residence in San Jose, Costa Rica.

A tearful Mora described how she awoke at her home in Dulce Nombre de Tres Rios, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the capital, on April 8, 2011 with a debilitating headache that sent her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with having suffered a cerebral aneurism in the right side of her brain.

Doctors decided they couldn't operate because the area was inaccessible.

"With an open operation or an endovascular intervention, the risk to Floribeth would have been to die or be left with a significant neurological deficit," her doctor, Dr. Alejandro Vargas, told reporters.

She was sent home with painkillers.

"I returned home with the fear that I was going to die," Mora said.

Nevertheless, a few days later, she insisted on participating in a religious procession during which she said she received a sign that she would be healed. The family decided to build a shrine to John Paul outside their home: a colorful altar with a photo of the late pope next to a statue of the Madonna and surrounded by flowers, candles and Christmas lights.

On the day John Paul was beatified, May 1, 2011, Mora said she insisted on watching the Mass, which drew some 1.5 million people to St. Peter's Square and the streets around it.

"I contemplated the photo of the Holy Father with his arms extended and I fixed my eyes on him," she said. "In this moment, I heard a voice tell me 'get up, don't be afraid,' and I could only say 'Yes, I'm going to get up.'"

She said her family was shocked to see her get out of bed. "I was afraid to tell my husband, because he was going to think I was crazy or on drugs. But I got up from bed, and I am here before you, healthy," she said.

Medical tests confirmed that the aneurism had disappeared, Vargas said. "It's the first time I've seen anything like it," he said, showing the before and after images of the hemorrhage.

John Paul, who was pope from 1978-2005, revolutionized the papacy, traveling the world and inspiring a generation of young Catholics to be excited about their faith. He was the first Polish pope and the first non-Italian in 455 years — a legacy that continued with the German-born Benedict XVI and Argentine Francis.

John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope" for his affable nature, is best known for having convened Vatican II, sensing that the time was ripe for a renewal of the church. But he has fallen from favor among conservatives who blame Vatican II for the church's problems today.

Benedict spent much of his pontificate trying to correct what he considered wrong interpretations of Vatican II, insisting it wasn't the break from the past that liberals believed.

While not disagreeing outright with Benedict, Francis seems to take a more progressive read of Vatican II and its call to go out into the world and spread the faith — a priority he has shown in the first months of his pontificate.

The two living popes, however, clearly get along.

"Your holiness, good day and thank you!" Francis beamed on Friday as he greeted Benedict in the Vatican gardens for the unveiling of the statue. Benedict, 86, appeared in good form, walking slowly but on his own and greeting well-wishers.

The Vatican's complicated saint-making procedure requires that the Vatican certify a "miracle" was performed through the intercession of the candidate — a medically inexplicable cure that is lasting, immediate and can be directly linked to the prayers offered by the faithful. One miracle is needed for beatification, a second for canonization.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his John Paul's death. Benedict was responding to chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Immediately" which erupted during John Paul's funeral.

There has been some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See's deep-seated problems — clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank — essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Thus the decision to canonize John Paul along with John XXIII can be seen as trying to balance those concerns, as well as the shortcomings of each pope.

Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope," alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

As soon as the announcement was made, John Paul's critics came out: Juan Vaca, one of the victims of notorious pedophile priest the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order, said the decision to canonize John Paul was "appalling and shocking" given the thousands of victims of sex abuse who were ignored under his 27-year pontificate.

The Vatican has argued that sainthood cases are based on the record of the person, not the pontificate.

Asked how John XXIII, elected in 1958, could be canonized without a second miracle, the Vatican spokesman insisted that many theologians believe that a second miracle isn't required. He said Francis had approved a decision by the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican's saint-making office.

"Certainly the pope has the power, in a certain sense, to dispense of the second miracle in a cause, and this is what happened," Lombardi said.

He stressed that this decision didn't represent any relaxing of the Vatican's overall standards for canonization, but represented a unique situation, given that the church this year is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

"John XXIII is someone who we know is beloved in the church, we're in the 50th anniversary of the Council which he started, and I don't think any of us have any doubts about his virtues," Lombardi said.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul's longtime secretary, was clearly pleased that his pope would finally be made a saint.

"John Paul II's holiness was simple, humble, of service," Dziwisz wrote in Friday's Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. "He lived for God and brought others to God."

___

Javier Cordoba in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

___

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

Francis approved a decree that a Costa Rican woman's inexplicable cure from a deadly brain aneurism was the "miracle" needed to canonize John Paul. More significantly, he decided that John XXIII, who convened Vatican II, could be declared a saint even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis had the power to dispense with such requirements and could proceed with only one confirmed miracle to John's name.

The ceremony is expected before the end of the year. The date of Dec. 8 has been floated as likely, given it's the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church that honors Mary, to whom both saintly popes were particularly devoted. Polish prelates continue to press for October, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Polish-born John Paul's election, but Vatican officials have suggested that's too soon to organize such a massive event.

The announcement came on a remarkable day melding papacies past and present: It opened with Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attending their first Vatican ceremony together, sitting side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens. It continued with the publication of Francis' first encyclical, a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired but was signed by Francis. And it climaxed with Francis' decision to canonize two other predecessors.

Each event, historic on its own, would have captured headlines. But the canonization announcement capped them all, reflecting the priorities of this unique pontificate that has already broken so many rules and traditions, from Francis' decision to shun papal vestments to his housing arrangements, living in the Vatican hotel rather than the stuffy Apostolic Palace.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Vatican analyst, said the decision to canonize both popes was a "brilliant move to unify the church," given that each pope has his own admirers and critics.

"With the joint announcement, Pope Francis is saying we do not have to choose between popes, we can honor and revere both as holy men who served the church well in their times," he wrote on his blog for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.

Vatican II, which John XXIII opened a year before his 1963 death, opened the church to people of other faiths and allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the languages of the faithful, rather than Latin. In the years since it closed in 1965, though, it has become a source of division in the church, with critics blaming a faulty interpretation of Vatican II's true meaning on the fall in priestly vocations and the "crisis" in the church today.

To anyone who has been paying attention, Francis' decision to canonize John Paul and John XXIII should come as no surprise: The Jesuit was made a cardinal by John Paul, who attended Vatican II, and is very much a priest of John's legacy.

On the anniversary of John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both John Paul and John XXIII – an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

"Two different popes, very important to the church, will be announced saint together - it's a beautiful gesture," said the Rev. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for Poland's Catholic bishops, who like most Poles was overjoyed by the news of John Paul's impending canonization but impatient to know the date.

Francis will set the date at an upcoming meeting of cardinals.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the miracle that brought John Paul to the ranks of saints concerned a Costa Rican woman, Floribeth Mora, who on Friday broke months of silence to tell her story in public, surrounded by her family, doctors and church officials at a news conference in the archbishop's residence in San Jose, Costa Rica.

A tearful Mora described how she awoke at her home in Dulce Nombre de Tres Rios, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the capital, on April 8, 2011 with a debilitating headache that sent her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with having suffered a cerebral aneurism in the right side of her brain.

Doctors decided they couldn't operate because the area was inaccessible.

"With an open operation or an endovascular intervention, the risk to Floribeth would have been to die or be left with a significant neurological deficit," her doctor, Dr. Alejandro Vargas, told reporters.

She was sent home with painkillers.

"I returned home with the fear that I was going to die," Mora said.

Nevertheless, a few days later, she insisted on participating in a religious procession during which she said she received a sign that she would be healed. The family decided to build a shrine to John Paul outside their home: a colorful altar with a photo of the late pope next to a statue of the Madonna and surrounded by flowers, candles and Christmas lights.

On the day John Paul was beatified, May 1, 2011, Mora said she insisted on watching the Mass, which drew some 1.5 million people to St. Peter's Square and the streets around it.

"I contemplated the photo of the Holy Father with his arms extended and I fixed my eyes on him," she said. "In this moment, I heard a voice tell me `get up, don't be afraid,' and I could only say `Yes, I'm going to get up.'"

She said her family was shocked to see her get out of bed. "I was afraid to tell my husband, because he was going to think I was crazy or on drugs. But I got up from bed, and I am here before you, healthy," she said.

Medical tests confirmed that the aneurism had disappeared, Vargas said. "It's the first time I've seen anything like it," he said, showing the before and after images of the hemorrhage.

John Paul, who was pope from 1978-2005, revolutionized the papacy, traveling the world and inspiring a generation of young Catholics to be excited about their faith. He was the first Polish pope and the first non-Italian in 455 years – a legacy that continued with the German-born Benedict XVI and Argentine Francis.

John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope" for his affable nature, is best known for having convened Vatican II, sensing that the time was ripe for a renewal of the church. But he has fallen from favor among conservatives who blame Vatican II for the church's problems today.

Benedict spent much of his pontificate trying to correct what he considered wrong interpretations of Vatican II, insisting it wasn't the break from the past that liberals believed.

While not disagreeing outright with Benedict, Francis seems to take a more progressive read of Vatican II and its call to go out into the world and spread the faith – a priority he has shown in the first months of his pontificate.

The two living popes, however, clearly get along.

"Your holiness, good day and thank you!" Francis beamed on Friday as he greeted Benedict in the Vatican gardens for the unveiling of the statue. Benedict, 86, appeared in good form, walking slowly but on his own and greeting well-wishers.

The Vatican's complicated saint-making procedure requires that the Vatican certify a "miracle" was performed through the intercession of the candidate – a medically inexplicable cure that is lasting, immediate and can be directly linked to the prayers offered by the faithful. One miracle is needed for beatification, a second for canonization.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his John Paul's death. Benedict was responding to chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Immediately" which erupted during John Paul's funeral.

There has been some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See's deep-seated problems – clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank – essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

Thus the decision to canonize John Paul along with John XXIII can be seen as trying to balance those concerns, as well as the shortcomings of each pope.

Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope," alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

As soon as the announcement was made, John Paul's critics came out: Juan Vaca, one of the victims of notorious pedophile priest the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order, said the decision to canonize John Paul was "appalling and shocking" given the thousands of victims of sex abuse who were ignored under his 27-year pontificate.

The Vatican has argued that sainthood cases are based on the record of the person, not the pontificate.

Asked how John XXIII, elected in 1958, could be canonized without a second miracle, the Vatican spokesman insisted that many theologians believe that a second miracle isn't required. He said Francis had approved a decision by the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican's saint-making office.

"Certainly the pope has the power, in a certain sense, to dispense of the second miracle in a cause, and this is what happened," Lombardi said.

He stressed that this decision didn't represent any relaxing of the Vatican's overall standards for canonization, but represented a unique situation, given that the church this year is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

"John XXIII is someone who we know is beloved in the church, we're in the 50th anniversary of the Council which he started, and I don't think any of us have any doubts about his virtues," Lombardi said.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul's longtime secretary, was clearly pleased that his pope would finally be made a saint.

"John Paul II's holiness was simple, humble, of service," Dziwisz wrote in Friday's Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. "He lived for God and brought others to God."

___

Javier Cordoba in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed to this report.

___

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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  • FILE - In a Sept. 15, 1987 file photo, Pope John Paul II walks among young people at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, Calif. The pontiff addressed the group along with satellite viewers in Portland, Denver and St. Louis. When Pope John Paul II is brought a step away from sainthood on Sunday, May 1, the event will be celebrated in cathedrals, high schools and homes by American Catholics who revere the Polish pontiff like no other head of the Roman Catholic church before him. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith, File)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 22, 1978 file photo, Pope John Paul II places his hands on the shoulders of West German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich and Freising, during the solemn inauguration of his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church in Vatican City. Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 that he will resign on Feb. 28. The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals. (AP Photo)

  • The giant banner bearing John Paul's por

    The giant banner bearing John Paul's portrait is unveiled over the facade of St Peter's basilica during the ceremony of beatification for late pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011 at St Peter's square at The Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI declared John Paul II 'blessed' at a mass in Saint Peter's Square in front of more than a million people on Sunday, putting his late predecessor on the path to sainthood. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A view of the newly unveiled Pope John Paul II statue, in Rome, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. The city of Rome has inaugurated a revamped statue of Pope John Paul II after the first one was pilloried by the public and the Vatican. Artist Oliviero Rainaldi says he's pleased with the final product, saying it matches his original vision. He blamed foundry workers for a botched assemblage the first time around. When the statue was first unveiled in front of Rome's main train station in May 2011, it was widely criticized by passers-by as looking more like Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini than the beloved Polish pope. Even the Vatican's own art critic wrote that it looked like a "bomb" had landed. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Pope Shenouda III, Pope John Paul II

    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 200 file photo, Pope John Paul II sits with Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, during a meeting at Shenouda's residence in Cairo, Egypt. John Paul became the first Roman Catholic pope to visit predominantly Islamic Egypt. Egypt's state news agency says Pope Shenouda III, head of Coptic Christian church, has died.(AP Photo/Paul Hanna/pool, File)

  • Pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 12-13, 1997.

  • In this March 1, 2012 photo, an image of the late Pope John Paul II hangs from a wall in the museum of the Cristo Rey, or Christ King monument, which stands at the top of the Cerro del Cubilete hill, considered the geographic center of the country, in Silao, Mexico. The visit of Pope Benedict XVI, his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America, begins on March 23 in Mexico's central state of Guanajuato, where he will spend three days and give an outdoor Mass before heading to Cuba on March 26. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger

    FILE - In this file photo taken Sept. 11, 2002, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, left, now Pope Benedict XVI, is seen with late Pope John Paul II during mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Devotion still runs high for the pope's predecessor, who honored Mexico by making it his first trip outside the Vatican and coming back four more times. For many Catholics, the March 23-26 papal visit to Mexico is long overdue, given that in seven years as pontiff, Benedict has never visited Mexico where there are more Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. The German pontiff known as a staid academic is uncomfortable with Latin America's mix of Catholicism and popular mysticism and its legions of unsanctioned saints. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File)

  • Marcial Maciel, Pope John Paul II

    FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2004 file photo, Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to late Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of Legionaries of Christ during a special audience the pontiff granted to about four thousand participants of the Regnum Christi movement, at the Vatican. A Hartford, Conn., Superior Court ruling released Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2011, allows a lawsuit by Jose Raul Gonzalez of Mexico, claiming the late Rev. Maciel molested him for years, to go forward. Gonzalez also claims that Maciel was his father. The Legionaries of Christ has its U.S. headquarters in Connecticut.

  • FILE - In this Friday April 7, 2005 file photo, a mariachi band performs in front of a giant image of Pope John Paul II during a last farewell to the Polish pope at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico. Devotion still runs high for the pope's predecessor, who honored Mexico by making it his first trip outside the Vatican and coming back four more times. For many Catholics, the March 23-26 papal visit to Mexico is long overdue, given that in seven years as pontiff, Benedict has never visited Mexico where there are more Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. The German pontiff known as a staid academic is uncomfortable with Latin America's mix of Catholicism and popular mysticism and its legions of unsanctioned saints. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)

  • FILE - In this 1979 file photo, Pope John Paul II, left, poses with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, who was named on Nov. 25, 1981, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, the former Holy Office. Ratzinger was elected Pope, April 19, 2005 and chose Benedict XVI as his papal name. Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, he would resign Feb. 28 because he is simply too old to carry on. (AP Photo/File)

  • A worker decorates a space in downtown Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday, April 2, 2012, in preparation for hours of prayers and vigil that will mark the seventh anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Observances are held in many Polish cities in memory of the much-loved pope who was born in Wadowice, in southern Poland and was announced blessed in 2011. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

  • John Paul II, Jerzy Kluger

    FILE - In this Thursday, March 23, 2000 file photo, Pope John Paul II greets World War II death camp survivor, and boyhood friend, Jerzy Kluger, during a visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem. Jerzy Kluger, a Polish-born Jew who was a lifetime friend and childhood playmate of the late Pope John Paul II, has died in a clinic near Rome. Kluger's wife, Irene, told The Associated Press that her husband, who was 90, had died on Dec. 31 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for three years and was buried Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Isaac Harari/GPO/ File)

  • In this Feb. 29, 2012 photo, a man makes the sign of the cross in front of a statue of the late Pope John Paul II outside of the cathedral in Leon, Mexico. The visit of Pope Benedict XVI, his first to Spanish-speaking Latin America, begins on March 23 in Mexico's central state of Guanajuato, where he will spend three days and give an outdoor Mass before heading to Cuba on March 26. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • Pope John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger

    FILE - In this file photo taken Dec. 22, 2003 provided by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano daily, late Pope John Paul II, right, greets then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, during the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings at the Vatican. Devotion still runs high for the pope's predecessor, who honored Mexico by making it his first trip outside the Vatican and coming back four more times. For many Catholics, the March 23-26 papal visit to Mexico is long overdue, given that in seven years as pontiff, Benedict has never visited Mexico where there are more Catholics than any other Spanish-speaking country. The German pontiff known as a staid academic is uncomfortable with Latin America's mix of Catholicism and popular mysticism and its legions of unsanctioned saints. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File)

  • Workers paste an image of the late Pope John Paul II to a giant billboard in Silao, Mexico, Thursday March 22, 2012. It's been a decade since the former pope visited Mexico; his fifth and final trip to the country. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, arrives Friday, to a very different country and welcomed by a church that has suffered debilitating setbacks amidst sex abuse scandals and a lower percentage of Mexicans who call themselves Catholic today compared to a decade ago. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • Pope John Paul II Wax Figure Transported To Poland

    BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 17: A wax figure of Pope John Paul II stands in a parking garage prior to being loaded into a car to be driven to Wadowice, Poland from the Madame Tussauds museum on May 17, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. The figure will be on display for one day in the former Pope's birthplace for celebrations of the 92nd anniversary of his birth. Pope John Paul II, baptized as Karol Jozef Wojtyla, was born in the Polish town on May 18, 1920. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 21, 2003 file photo, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada, Archbishop of Quebec, wearing the three-cornered biretta hat, kisses the hand of Pope John Paul II, during the consistory in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Cardinal Marc Ouellet once said that being pope "would be a nightmare." He would know, having enjoyed the confidence of two popes as a top-ranked Vatican insider. His high-profile position as head of the Vatican's office for bishops, his conservative leanings, his years in Latin America and his work in Rome as president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America make him a favorite to become the first pontiff from the Americas following Pope Benedict XVI’s stunning resignation earlier this month. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti)

  • The Vatican Prepares For The Retirement Of Pope Benedict XVI's Retirement

    ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 24: A commemorative plate featuring Pope John Paul II sits in a shop window on February 24, 2013 in Rome, Italy. The Pontiff will hold his last weekly public audience on February 27, 2013 before he retires the following day. Pope Benedict XVI has been the leader of the Catholic Church for eight years and is the first Pope to retire since 1415. He cites ailing health as his reason for retirement and will spend the rest of his life in solitude away from public engagements. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2001 file photo released by the Vatican, Pope John Paul II shakes hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez during a private audience at the Vatican City Friday. Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 that Chavez has died. Chavez, 58, was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2011. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari, Vatican, File)

  • A poster of Pope John Paul II that reads in Spanish "Mexico always faithful" hangs on display outside a small store that sells religious items at the back of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Cardinals from around the globe locked themselves inside the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City on Tuesday to choose a new leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

  • Pope John Paul II, Mehmet Ali Agca

    FILE - This Dec. 27, 1983 file photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, shows Pope John Paul II, left, talking with his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Agca, of Turkey, in Agca's prison cell in Rome. The Turkish gunman who shot Pope John Paul II has changed his story once again, saying in a new autobiography that Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini personally told him to kill the pope. Mehmet Ali Agca writes in "They Promised Me Paradise,'' released Thursday Feb. 1, 2013 in Italy, that he was trained in Iran by Khomeini's forces after escaping from a Turkish prison, and that the Iranian leader himself told him to kill John Paul in the name of God. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari, L'Osservatore Romano)

  • People gather at the Basilica of Guadalupe for Mass where a statue of Pope John Paul II stands on display in Mexico City, Sunday, March 17, 2013. Catholics around the world attended the first Sunday Mass after the election of Pope Francis, Argentine's former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

  • A 13.8 m tall sculpture of late Pope John Paul II is seen behind a wooden fence during the unveiling ceremony in Czestochowa, southern Poland, on April 13, 2013. The world's tallest statue of late pope John Paul II was unveiled Saturday in the Polish city of Czestochowa, already home to a Catholic icon believed to work miracles. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FILE - Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, left, speaks with Pope John Paul II during a private audience at the Vatican in Rome, In this Dec. 18, 1999 file photo. Havel is on an official visit to Italy and the Vatican. The pontiff is holding a gift he received from Havel. Havel, the dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War, died Sunday Dec. 18, 2011 in Prague. He was 75. (AP Photo/Massimo Sambucetti, File)

  • A giant bronze sculpture portraying Pope John Paul II issplayed outside Rome's Termini train Station on November 19, 2012. The city of Rome has inaugurated the revamped version of the statue after the first one, unveiled in May 2011 was widely criticized. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • John Paul II Beatification Mass And Ceremony

    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MAY 01: Pilgrims hold an image featuring Pope John Paul II as they attend the ceremony for the beatification of Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Square on May 1, 2011 in Vatican City, Vatican. The ceremony marking the beatification and the last stages of the process to elevate Pope John Paul II to sainthood was led by his successor Pope Benedict XI and attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims alongside heads of state and dignitaries. (Photo by Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images)

  • Pope John Paul II

    FILE - In this Aug. 15, 1993 file photo Pope John Paul II greets a young man during a mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Co. When Pope John Paul II is brought a step away from sainthood on Sunday, May 1, the event will be celebrated in cathedrals, high schools and homes by American Catholics who revere the Polish pontiff like no other head of the Roman Catholic church before him. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)