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Canonizing Two Thoroughly Modern Men: The Gifts of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to the Church

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On this past Divine Mercy Sunday, two beloved Popes were canonized in St. Peter's Square -- Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Both popes believed firmly in ushering the Church into the modern world, Pope John XXIII by calling the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II by working tirelessly to implement those conciliar reforms in a way that did justice to the Church's past and her present. But Pope St. John Paul II will always be closer to my heart.
When I began contemplating conversion to Catholicism in the late 1990s, Pope John Paul II had already reigned for more than 20 years. The JPII generation was on fire with love for Christ and his Church. They were passionately devout, fiercely intelligent, and quoted passages from the original documents of Vatican II with the same fluency an evangelical might cite Scripture. John Paul II's Theology of the Body (or TOB), with its message that our bodies and sex itself were glorious gifts from God, was just becoming the…