Lecture Series

The Rev Robert F. Houlihan, S.J. Educators Series, 2014, number 3.0

   From Cardinal Priest to Sainthood; the Canonization of the Good Pope John XXIII

   Material was taken from articles that appeared in the April 18, 2014 edition of “The Colorado Catholic          Herald” newspaper of the diocese of Colorado Springs

On April 27, 2014, two former popes were canonized as saints by Pope Francis I. One was Pope John Paul II, and the other was Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Boncalli, Pope John XXIII. While Pope John Paul II papacy was one of the longest, Pope John’s reign was one of the shortest, only 5 years. In addition, Pope John did not have the scholarly intellect or charisma of a Pope John Paul II. Nevertheless, he was an astute observer of the world environment, and attuned to the powerful changes that were taking place around the world. And in response to what he saw unfolding, Pope John had the fortitude and moral courage to call for a second Vatican council. As we examine the historical implications of Vatican II, one could argue that he has become one of the most important and influential papal figures of modern times. As an individual, Pope John XXIII was a person of deep faith based convictions, and was noted as a fun loving jovial man with an incredible sense of humor, who loved anyone of any race, culture and nationality. As pope and pastor, he worried over the decline in the spiritual and apostolic nature of the world and the rise of radical secular thought. From his perspective, it was the world that was broken not the Church, and that a new and revamped Church, therefore, could become the main instrument for bringing hope and guidance to a world that was in desperate need of both. Against opposition and push back, he championed for and got a second Vatican council, no easy feat. One of the keys to its ultimate success was the fact that Vatican II was fomented without any pre-conceived ideas of what it would accomplish. Pope John XXIII opened Vatican II, yet died before it was completed. The task of bringing Vatican II to close was left to his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Yet like a large rock tossed into a pond, the effects of Vatican II are still rippling out and reverberating through both the Catholic and Religious Communities. In that regard the work of Vatican II is still unfolding and being playing out, and thanks to the visionary acumen one man it will for generations to come.