By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In a historic move, Pope Francis will canonize two of his modern-day predecessors as saints during ceremonies on St. Peter’s Square on Sunday. A local college theologian says the contributions of the two men extended directly to the world stage.
St. Joseph’s University theology professor Bill Madges says Pope John Paul II was well-known because of his travels to more than 100 countries and his interaction with millions of people.
But Madges says he was also instrumental in the fall of communism in Europe:
“The role he played in supporting Solidarity in Poland, his critique of repressive governments there and elsewhere that helped bring down the Iron Curtain.”
Madges says John XXII played a key, behind-the-scenes role in likely preventing nuclear war between two super powers during the Cuban missile crisis:
“He was in communication with John F. Kennedy and the following day, on Vatican Radio, made a plea to the governments of the world to be people of peace and many believe that it gave Nikita Kruschev a way to save face and to back down.”