Michael Sean Winters wrote, over the last two days in the National Catholic Reporter, his reflections on the papacies and sanctity of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. To make sense of my comments, it would be good to read both articles, which you can find here at http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/remembering-roncalli and here at http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/remembering-john-paul-ii.
Roncalli certainly did have a perilous task after the war. Of course, John Paul II had to deal with the specter of Rawandan bishops who urged genocide and who, rather justly, were executed rather than retired. As far as dealing with anti-modernism and the cult of suspicion, I would have used that as devil's advocate for keeping Pius X out of canonization - especially since on matters of the historical aspects of the scriptures, the Modernists were right - something the CDF is yet to admit.
As far as pesonal saintliness, one need only look at Roncalli as a child spending hours in his parish church spending time doing nothing but prayer to the Blessed Sacrament. This is a practice follwed in his own papacy by John Paul II. That is why it is most fitting that they be canonized together, even if John Paul spent a bit too much time listening to informants who were disatisfied with some of the bishops he inherited. Of course, that would not be a problem if there werer MORE democracy in the Church, especially around the appointment and removal of bishops. It is time to end that bit of medievalism in the life of the Church.
I went to school the day John Paul II was elected, but was home by the time the smoke went up. I've had the good fortune to be watching the smoke go up for both popes after him, although I doubt I will wake up to watch the canonization Mass - unless I stay up after getting home from work. On the question of whether the Catholic Left noticed the condmenation of Capitalism, of course I did - although I was not much of a leftist back then.
What dissappointed me more than anything - and more so with age - is the stubbornness John Paul displayed on sexual issues - both personal and public. It also seemed he was turning back the clock on a few things and as much as Benedict was is Inquistor, Rigali was his American Episcopal enforcer. The left was noting that progress was afoot on gay issues, since sex was a gift from God and gays were children of God. It took the invention from whole cloth of "intrinsic disorder" to stop the Church from going down a road to acceptance. This was a pity.
On end of life issues, the use of a brief remark to a Pro-Life priest's conference had the effect of changing doctrine without really doing it officially. This played out in how some dealt with Terry Schaivo. A lot of this happened because the Pope was so sick - although his public decline caused Benedict to not inflict the same thing on the Church and resign as he aged.
The most irritating thing was how heavy handed the English translation of the Mass was changed. Those who have an old Missal will recognize much of the language - save all the references to St. Michael, et al in many prayers. While this happened under Benedict, I suspect it started under John Paul. It can be traced back to how Karol Wojtyla led those who were against progress at Vatican II. By the time he was elected, there was a very different College of Cardinals than the one that elected Paul VI.
Still, his personal sanctity cannot be doubted - both for the way he sufferred and the way he relied on God to deal with his sufferings. It is not so much the pain as turning his pain to prayer that makes him a saint (since it was good luck that had Communism fall on his watch - although concentrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary might have also had something to do with it). Maybe living in interesting times is important after all.