MANILA, Oct. 1, 2013— Catholic bishops welcomed the Vatican’s decision to canonize John Paul II and John XXIII in April 2014. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, called on Catholics to follow the former two popes’ example of simplicity and compassion. “Not everyone can attend the rites in Rome but everyone can imitate the two popes,” said Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. “The real meaning of devotion to the saints is imitation. We must learn from the heroic virtue of John Paul II and the constant happy spirit of John XXIII,” he said. The two former leaders of the Catholic Church will be canonized saints on April 27 in a historic ceremony that could be attended by their two living successors— Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Malolos Jose Oliveros said that Francis’ decision to canonize John Paul II and John XXIII is an occasion of “thanksgiving and a cause for joy.” “We should not only prepare for the canonization but rather emulate the lives of the two new saints,” he said. “Let us be reminded of what John Paul II said about the role of the Filipino Catholics in the evangelization of Asia,” he added. “Like John Paul II and John XXIII, let us be channels of God’s mercy to others.”