Abuse victims slam John Paul II sainthood

Ehssan Veiszadeh

Abuse victims have slammed moves to make John Paul II a saint, accusing him of covering up sex crimes perpetrated by clergy from the Catholic Church for decades.

The late pontiff will on Sunday be canonised at a historic Vatican ceremony, with some 800,000 pilgrims expected in Rome.

But Sydney resident Nicky Davis, who was abused over a six-year period from the age of 12, says honouring John Paul II with the sainthood would be totally inappropriate.

Ms Davis is in Rome with other advocates from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to protest against the canonisation.

"How can you call a man a saint who didn't take any action - and he had 27 years to do it," she told AAP on Friday.

"He had the most powerful position in the world and he still didn't act, with knowledge that large numbers of children were being raped by his priests."

She said the move will undermine Pope Francis's claim that he's taking the issue of abuse seriously.

"This hugely self-serving exercise is saying nothing has changed, nothing is going to change and you're not going to be able to make us change," she said.

Barbara Blaine, who is also in Rome and who founded SNAP, said the canonisation will send the wrong message about the Church's stance on abuse.

"He (Pope John Paul II) covered up, concealed and ignored sex crimes for decades," she told AAP.

"So many of us would never have been raped had the Church officials done the right thing."

Ms Blaine was repeatedly abused by a priest when she was 12 while living in Ohio, in the US.