When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.
Saint John XXIII
Today, the Catholic church canonized Pope John XXIII along with Pope John Paul II. Although John Paul was pope for about half of my lifetime, it is John’s legacy that most shaped the church that I know.
Because I was born in 1960, the only church I have known is the Vatican II church. I don’t remember when the Mass was in Latin rather than the vernacular and the choir was the only one singing the responses. I grew up with the expectation that I would continue to study the Bible, theology, spirituality, and doctrine and be responsible for developing and acting in accordance with my own conscience. It would have been very different if John, elected at 78 and not expected to do anything of substance, had not had the vision and inspiration of the Spirit to convene the Council of the world’s Catholic bishops and invite observers from other faiths. He wanted an “aggiornamento” or updating of the church, to open the Church, which had not changed significantly in the centuries since the Council of Trent in reaction to the Protestant Reformation, to the modern world. This is the Church in which I was raised and which I continue to live out in my life to the best of my abilities.
Much of the secular media coverage talks about how the Church is “making” these two popes saints, but that is a mistaken characterization. Rather, the Church recognizes that these men are saints in heaven. God “makes” saints. Alleluia!
One, Two, Three Popes…
From an Italian blog that I follow. I hope that Francis will find the wherewithal to follow the example of John XXIII. It is said that, had he been elected instead of Benedict after John Paul II’s death, he would have chosen the name John. Perhaps that is a sign of things to come.
The canonization of both John XXIII and John Paul II will take place this Sunday, April 27, in Rome, and the event is expected to attract million of people to the epicenter of Catholicism.
Though both popes will be elevated to sainthood on the same day, their impacts on the Catholic Church and its more than a billion followers worldwide could not be more different.
I am not sure many people remember John XXIII, who after all, died in 1963. He was a stocky little man with a prominent nose and a gentle voice. he was considered a “transitional pope”, being 76 years old when he was elevated after eleven ballots to the Throne of Peter.
Regardless, during his short-lived papacy (just under five years), he did much to open the Church not only to the world but also to the future. In calling the Second Vatican Council…
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