..by Anura Guruge
The current pope, Francis (#267), does bear some personality resemblances but in some ways they are also poles apart, a very pivotal Pole having much to do with this (unfortunate) division. Yes, they both come across as very genuine, caring, people-oriented men, though John XXIII was inescapably more avuncular (and jollier) than the Jesuit. I am very fussy about my uncles and I was blessed to have six amazing uncles (all from my mother’s side) — and one I really never got to know because he died when I was young. Of all the popes, John XXIII is the ONLY one that I would not have minded as an uncle — and that I am not Catholic is immaterial, because one of my uncles, my surrogate father, was white, and a Baptist.
Though John was a traditionalists in his own way, he was not dogmatic about it and was more than willing to be pragmatic. Hence his bold, shock-wave inducing call for Vatican II in an effort to ‘modernize’ the Church and make it more people-friendly. Vatican II is what gave Catholics the vernacular Mass — something that the ‘Tea Party’ equivalent of the Church rails against even today; believing that the Latin Mass, that even most priest don’t understand, as being what God wanted.
John is basically the Clinton or Obama of popes. The conservatives, though they have to begrudgingly confess that the man was selfless at his core, still hate what they reckon is the damage that he did to the Church. There is a whole movement that claim that he is an antipope and that all that came after him are illegitimate. Can you see the parallels with Obama?
His life-story is an inspiration. I can’t be 100% sure but I know that reading about him was one of the reasons that made me into a papal historian. Much of the stuff that the current Jesuit is trying to do, like visiting prisons in Rome, are things that were pioneered by John.
Google, it appears, does not do Pope Doodles. That is a shame. John deserves a Doodle.
If you don’t know much about Bl. John XXIII take a few minutes today and read about him. Here is the Wikipedia link.
Just a smattering of my favorite John XIII quotes. Enjoy.
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.
Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in,
but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
“See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.”
“Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar,
but the best improve with age.”
“You may say to His Eminence Cardinal Tisserant that, as the pope requires his shoes,
he has given you permission to leave the conclave.”
In the first days of his pontificate, John XXIII received a letter from a twelve-year-old boy named Bruno.
It read: “My dear Pope: I am undecided. I want to be a policeman or a Pope.
What do you think?”
The Pope replied: “My little Bruno. If you want my opinion, learn how to be a policeman, because that cannot be improvised.
Anybody can be pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.
If you ever should be in Rome, come to see me. I would be glad to talk all this over with you.”
[[Recounted in The Wit and Wisdom of Good Pope John]]
For more delightful quotes try this.