03 October 2019, The Tablet

Apparently, the Holy Spirit abandoned the cardinal electors on 12 March 2013

Apparently, the Holy Spirit abandoned the cardinal electors on 12 March 2013

A story told about the last days of John XXIII, even if apocryphal, is instructive about the Church at that time. On 1 June 1963, the Vatican said that the Pope had the flu and asked for our prayers. On 2 June we were told the Pope was in bed and very ill. By 3 June it was announced that he had died of cancer.

At least officially, the Holy Father’s demise had been very quick indeed. We now know that he had been battling a stomach carcinoma for eight months, with the associated dramatic weight loss that accompanies it. Without telling us, this genial and generous man had been dying before our eyes.

When John Paul II beatified John XXIII, he announced that his feast day would not be the day of Papa Roncalli’s death but 11 October, the anniversary of the opening day of the Second Vatican Council, which he had convoked. It was an inspired decision. One of the many guiding principles that John hoped would steer the council was the saying he quoted in his 1959 encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram: “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” I wonder what he would make of us now. Except that a saint cannot be unhappy in Heaven, John XXIII would surely be rolling in his grave.

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User Comments (1)

Comment by: Mark Apple
Posted: 03/10/2019 23:54:43
Excellent column from Richard Leonard, great article by Luigi Gioia; and a well thought out response to Carmody Grey's defence of institutional Christianity.