Blessed John XXIII:Opening the Windows of the Church
We should not let the day to go by without noting the 45th anniversary of the death of Pope John XXIII. Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli on (25 November 1881) and elected Pope at the age of 77 in in 1958, it was widely supposed that he would be little more than a transitional pope, modestly filling St. Peter’s chair. He was indeed a “transitional pope,” but in quite another way — convening the second ecumenical council of the Vatican (Varican II) in 1962, ushering in a dramatic new era for the church. In his brief papacy, John XXIII also wrote two major encyclicals articulating the Church’s social teaching: Mater et Magistra (On Christianity and Social Progress) in 1961 and Pacem in Terris (On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty) in 1963.
He dictated a message for the Church from his deathbed that continues to speak to our challenge as Catholics in the modern world:
Now more than ever, certainly more than in past centuries, our intention is to serve people as such and not only Catholics; to defend above all and everywhere the rights of the human person and not only those of the Catholic Church; it is not the Gospel that changes; it is we who begin to understand it better….The moment has arrived when we must recognize the signs of the times, seize the opportunity and look far abroad.”