House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is celebrating the Vatican’s ceremony to officially declare Pope John Paul II and John XXIII saints.
The double canonization on Sunday, which raises the status of two recent popes, is a “joyous ceremony,” Pelosi said in a statement on Saturday.
Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963, launched a reform of the church popularly known as Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council led to significant reforms in the church such as an end to Latin at masses, greater role for women and decentralized power, among changes.
Pope John Paul II’s nearly 27-year papacy, which ended with his death in 2005, oversaw the implementation of many of those changes in policy.
Both are considered some of the church’s most popular leaders, and are “men of courage and compassion who left an indelible mark on our faith and our world,” said Pelosi, who is Catholic.
The double canonization ceremony presided by Pope Francis is drawing dozens of world leaders to the Vatican as well as an estimated million pilgrims.
President Obama, who is traveling in Asia over the weekend, sent his counselor John Podesta, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and legislative affairs director Katie Beirne Fallon as the official presidential delegation for the ceremony.