EL SEGUNDO (CBSLA.com) — A reported 50 people departed from Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday to en route to Rome to witness the late Pope John Paul II enter sainthood.
John Paul II, along with the late Pope John XXIII, will be declared a saint at their double canonization on April 27 — an event that is expected to draw millions of pilgrims to the Vatican City in Rome, including some from Southern California.
“I’m just pulled to do these things sometimes,” La Canada resident Nancy Bohte said. “I don’t understand why, but sometimes you just know to be somewhere at a special time.”
Bohte was among the crowd members at Dodger Stadium when Pope John Paul II conducted mass there in 1987, along with another mass held at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. She says she hopes to feel a similar peace at his canonization to the one she felt when seeing him nearly 30 years ago.
Not everyone, however, is as pleased to witness the late pope enter sainthood.
Victims of pre-sex abuse, as well as critics of the late pope’s stances on gay marriage and contraceptives, lobbied to halt the canonization.
Despite these objections, many locals say John Paul II was simply upholding church doctrine.
“I had met him a number of times, he ordained me as a priest,” Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Father Michael Barrett said. “I had celebrated mass with him at his private chapel. And every time he went to see people, men, women, they would all start crying.”
Late Pope John XXIII’s canonization is drawing supporters as well.
“He opened up the windows to the Vatican, to the church,” Lawndale resident Charles Fuentes, who is making the trip to Rome, said. “He changed everything with the Vatican, too.”