Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Welcome Saint Pope John XXIII

       I am so glad to embrace Pope John XXIII as a saint of the Catholic Church.  Our saints are, after all, people who live exemplary lives with wisdom that helps expand our human understanding.  They are models for us to emulate--our heroes.

       In the 1960's I read Journal of a Soul, Pope John's spiritual diaries--his humility, sincerity and devotion are clearly in evidence.  I believed then that he was an exceptional person who would one day be declared a saint.  Though he was steeped in the religious thinking of the past, he was able to see ahead to needed changes for the Church to remain relevant in the changing world.  He was aware of the evolutionary views of Teilhard de Chardin and did not condemn them but recognized that at that time the Church was not yet ready for so great a leap forward, there were more fundamental changes needed first.  He convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962 to review and revise all documents of the Church.  The 'windows were opened' but the work begun was impacted by his death in 1963 and in the 50 years since then, conservative elements arose to curtail the forward movement.

       When Pope Benedict fast-tracked Pope John Paul II (1978 - 2005) for beatification ahead of John XXIII (1958 - 1963) it seemed to be a vote to highlight the conservative position of the Church.  A balance was regained when Pope Francis intervened to complete the process for both John XXIII and John Paul II to be officially sainted together, thus favoring neither conservatives nor progressives but acknowledging that each has a  place in this struggle to move forward as we once again seriously face the task of bringing the Church into the modern world--a task fraught with many complex issues.

       Pope Francis has already called for an Extraordinary Synod to address issues of the family, thus he seems well suited to take up the mantle of these two influential new saints.

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