The canonization of a pope is not a routine matter. Before this month only one pope of the twentieth century, St. Pius X, had been canonized. Later this month there will be two more: St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, two popes who each, in his own way, shaped the church and the wider world. Both, in different ways, set the stage for the new era of Pope Francis, the first pope ordained in the post-conciliar era.
Two Orbis books offer intimate portraits of these two papal saints: Pope John XXIII: Essential Writings, edited by Jean Maalouf, presents “Good Pope John’s” message in his own words, reflecting his pastoral style of leadership, marked by love for the world and a strong commitment to peace and social justice, both wellsprings for the Second Vatican Council. The Pope and I by Jerzy Kluger is a memoir of Kluger’s extraordinary relationship with his childhood friend, Karol Wojtyla—who became Pope John Paul II. Kluger, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust, went on to become an intimate advisor to John Paul II, contributing to an era of dramatic change in Jewish-Catholic relations.