Pastor's Desk: Divine Mercy Sunday
Welcome everyone. Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast day established by Pope John Paul II. Today is also a very special day for the Church worldwide because today Pope Francis will canonise two popes in the one ceremony, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.
John was elected pope in 1958 just a month short of his 78th birthday. He was seen as a stopgap pope, a safe pair of hands who would have a short pontificate till a more long-term candidate would show himself. How wrong they were! John immediately set about calling the Second Vatican Council which was to revolutionise the Church and have a profound effect on the direction of the Church to this day. Pope John wanted to “open the windows of the Church”. He died in 1963.
John Paul was elected in 1978, the year of three popes. After the deaths of Paul VI and then John Paul I after a month in office the cardinals went for the strong young man from Poland. I had the pleasure of meeting Pope John Paul II twice as a student in Rome, the first time in 1987 at a Papal Mass in St Peter’s Basilica when I read the English Prayer of the Faithful, and then after we were ordained deacons on Easter Monday in 1989 we had a Mass in Castel Gandolfo for our families with him. He was a tremendously charismatic leader and also the second longest serving Pope in the history of the Church after St Peter.