A west Michigan Catholic priest can claim the rare distinction of having spent time with both former popes who will officially be raised to sainthood on Sunday.
“I knew them before they were saints,” Father Charles Dautremont says with a laugh as he talks about the photos of himself with Pope John XXII and Pope John Paul II on his parish office wall in Wyoming.
He met the two men while he studied in Rome.
Dautremont says at the time he saw the holiness in both men.
“You meet holy people, you know you met holy people,” says Dautremont. “And you don’t have to wait for the church to officially put its little rubber stamp of approval that this person’s a holy person.”
Dautremont says both men are great examples for other people to follow.
“I’m sure that I have met all kinds of saints in my 54 years of priesthood in the parishes I’ve been assigned to,” says Dautremont.
The canonization ceremony is expected to draw nearly a million people to Rome this weekend.
In metro Detroit, the National Shrine of the Little Flower plans to open its doors at 3 a.m. Sunday so people can watch the ceremony live from the Vatican.
There’s been a lot of talk about the different perceived legacies of the two men.
But Dautremont dismisses as "shallow thinking" talk that John Paul was a conservative pope and John XXIII was a liberal pope. He says John Paul supported many of the same changes in the Catholic Church that John XXIII began during his papacy.