Pope clears way for canonisation of predecessor
In a major demonstration of his papal authority, Pope Francis has decided that Pope John XXIII (inset) could be declared a saint even though the Vatican has not confirmed a second miracle attributed to his intercession.
The Vatican said Pope Francis had the power to dispense with such requirements and proceed with only one confirmed miracle to his predecessor's name.
The canonisation ceremony is expected before the end of the year. December 8 has been floated as one possibility, given that it is the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
However, Polish prelates are continuing to press for October, to mark the 35th anniversary of John Paul's election, but Vatican officials have suggested that is too soon to organise such a huge event.
Asked how John XXIII, who was elected in 1958, could be canonised without a second miracle, the Vatican spokesman insisted that many theologians believed a second miracle is not needed.
He said Pope Francis had approved a decision by the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican's saint-making office.
However, he stressed that this decision didn't represent any relaxation of the Vatican's overall standards for canonisation, 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," added the spokesman.
The announcement came on a day when Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attended their first Vatican ceremony together, sitting side by side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens.