TODAY   |  April 26, 2014

Controversy over papal canonization grows

As pilgrims flock to the Vatican for historic canonization of two popes, critics claim the impending sainthood for popular pontiffs John Paul II and Pope John XXIII has been fast-tracked by a scandal-plagued Roman Catholic Church. NBC’s Anne Thompson has more.

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>>> millions of people are flocking to the vatican this weekend for the papal canonization ceremony. pope john paul ii and pope john xxiii will become saints. it is not without controversy. anne thompson is outside the vatican this morning. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica. i spoke to the mayor of the city of rome who says he is confident that their city can handle the influx of pilgrims. 4 million bottles of water for those thirsty pilgrims and, of course, efforts to redirect the eternal city 's eternal traffic. the ceremonies to make john paul ii and john xxiii saints will take place tomorrow morning . those two popes are arguably the most influential popes of the 20th century . they both then enjoyed great popularity but are not without controversy, as you said. john paul ii has many critics who say he did not do enough or did very little to stop the sex abuse crisis and john xxiii , he is the pope who initiated the reform to the second vatican council , still opposed by some conservative catholics some 50 years later. despite all the criticism, both men will be made saints tomorrow. the only question now is will the weather hold? rain is forecast. erica?

>> we'll cross our fingers. anne thompson , thank you. nbc news will have live coverage of the papal canonization. lester will be here, anchoring our special.