7 Quick Takes: John XXIII Edition


It seems as if all I’m hearing about is “John Paul II this” and “John Paul II that.” Granted the organization I’m blogging for is called John Paul II Center for Women and the people old enough to have any memories of John XXIII don’t live online. For many of the bloggers in the blogosphere, John Paul II was the first pope they remember. While John XXIII did die more than 20 years before I was born, I do remember some of the things I learned about him in college. Here are some of my favorite facts about him and a look at the canonizations.

— 1 —

Let’s start off with some fun quotes:

  • “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about the serious problems afflicting the world and I tell myself, I must talk to the pope about it. Then the next day when I wake up I remember that I am the pope.”
  • In reply to a reporter who asked, “How many people work in the Vatican?”, he reportedly said: “About half of them.”
  • Not long after he was elected pope, Blessed John was walking in the streets of Rome. A woman passed him and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Overhearing what she said, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”

All three quotes were taken from this article.

— 2 —

As you can tell from the quotes, he was a witty, fat Italian man. He came from a poor family, which probably in part explains his congenial charm.


Look at him. Doesn’t he look like an Italian grandfather? Original caption: “Pope John XXIII: He was a bighearted man and a man of God, who had gained the confidence and affection of people everywhere. (CNS)”

— 3 —

Here’s a good video from Rome Reports about him. Now that I think about it, he really reminds me of Pope Francis.

— 4 —

The thing about him that strikes me the most is his surprising drive. Working as a nursing assistant, I saw time and time again that you should never underestimate an elderly person.

John XXIII was elected basically to be a seat warmer. Nobody expected the 77-year-old man to do anything. But he spent his first days as pontiff praying for God’s guidance. When he was sure where God wanted him to go, he announced the council to a room of stunned, silent bishops.

Between World War II and all of the moving and shaking of Pius XII, the cardinals just wanted a “stop-gap” pope. In John XXIII, I hope they all learned to never underestimate anyone, much less an elderly person, again.

— 5 —

Busted Halo is very good at explaining Church stuff. Here is their explanation of canonization:

— 6 —

 I will end with the speculation as to the political motivations of canonizing these two popes at once. Pope John XXIII for many reasons, rightly or wrongly, has been a kind of patron saint for liberals in the church. Pope John Paul II, on the other hand, has been recognized by conservatives. It has been speculated that Pope Francis is canonizing them both in an attempt to bring the two sides together. Everywhere, it is as if everyone is going into their camps and refusing to even be civil to those who disagree with them. People on the far left and on the far right are leaving the Church. Peace between the warring factions is necessary for the well-being of the Church.

— 7 —

There is however, one big problem with this characterization. We in the US keep trying to put our labels of “liberal” and “conservative” on the Church. But the Church is neither conservative or liberal. John XXIII said:

The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”

Wait a sec, the liberal pope was pro-Latin. Only those crazy conservatives want to use Latin in the liturgy. And John Paul II said:

Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers’ training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area. –Centesimus Annus 15

Government and unions protecting the rights of workers, what kind of liberal hogwash is that?

Yeah, the Catholic Church rejects your categories and substitutes it’s own.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


One thought on “7 Quick Takes: John XXIII Edition

  1. I love both John XXIII and JPII. Looking back on both of their pontificates, I see how much they were like Pope Francis is. God chooses well. The Holy Spirit inspires.

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