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Pope John Paul II approved for sainthood

The Vatican has announced it will canonize Pope John II. The announcement came after a second miracle had been attributed to the late pope, according to Vatican officials.

Less than 10 years after his death, the Vatican announced on Friday its plans to canonize the late Pope John Paul II.

Pope Francis approved a second miracle attributed to the late pontiff, clearing the way for sainthood.

Karol Wojtyla - Pope John Paul II's given name - was born in Poland in 1920. He was elected to the pontificate in 1978, becoming the first non-Italian pope in 400 years. During his time as leader of the Roman Catholic Church until 2005, the Polish-born pope enjoyed international popularity for his likeability and charisma.

His opposition to communism during the Cold War has been credited as a crucial factor in the formation of the Solidarity labor movement in 1980, which gradually helped erode Communist power in Eastern Europe by the end of the decade.

The Church beatified Pope John Paul II in 2011 after finding evidence of what they said was the first credible miracle resulting from his intercession.

Surprise dual canonization

The Vatican also announced on Friday that Pope John XXIII, who had led the Church from 1958-1963 and had overseen the Second Vatican Council, would also be made saint. The pope reportedly approved the second canonization even though Vatican officials had not brought forth evidence of a second miracle, the general requirement for sainthood.

The dual canonization would likely occur "before the end of the year," Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said on Friday.

When asked the reason behind waving the traditional procedure for John XXIII, the Vatican spokesperson said his case was an exception.

"We all know the virtues and the personality of Pope Roncalli, there is no need to explain the motives of his sainthood," Lombardi said, referring to the late pope by his given name, Angelo Roncalli.

Dubbed "the good pope," John XXIII paved the way for the modernization of the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century by opening the Second Vatican Council. The three-year-long deliberations over the direction of the Church resulted in greater inclusion of the laiety and the introduction of mass in languages other than Latin, among other reforms. He was beatified in 2000.

kms/dr (AP, AFP, dpa)