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Jul 5, 2013 8:20 PM by Connie Murphy

Pope Francis clears John Paul for sainthood

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis has cleared two of the 20th century's most influential popes to become saints.

The pontiff today approved a miracle that was needed in order to canonize Pope John Paul II. And in the case of Pope John the 23rd, Francis waived Vatican rules so he can be declared a saint even though the Vatican hasn't confirmed a second miracle attributed to him.

A ceremony is expected before the end of the year -- possibly in early December.

Today's announcement came on a remarkable day that melded papacies from the past and present.

It opened with Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict, attending their first Vatican ceremony together. They sat side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens.

It continued with the publication of Francis' first encyclical. It was a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired.

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