Guest Voices: 50 years after Vatican II, should Pope John XXIII be a saint?

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Photo by Rene Shaw

Photo by Rene Shaw

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(RNS) Fifty years after he opened the revolutionary Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII, known as the Good Pope, is on the verge of being declared a saint. Perhaps the key question is: Should he be? By Greg Tobin.

  • Eugene Pagano

    The Episcopal Church already recognizes him as a saint.

  • Steve

    It seems very odd and strange to me that a Protestant religion would recognize a Catholic pope as a saint, which is such a Catholic Church practice.

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  • Martin

    50 years! I was a solid Lutheran kid (born in 1950) whose ecumenical family watched Vatican II in great detail, and as a kid I sucked up the conversations about it. Later, in college, I had lectures from “Xavier Rhynne,” the ruddy Irish-American Vatican insider who wrote about the Council for New Yorker magazine. Just years later, he was already discouraged that the Council didn’t achieve the pontif’s early hopes for it. I still have the book of his collected articles in my library. I’m saddened that the fruits of Vatican II are far less than John XXIII had hoped.

  • Lionel Andrades


    There is no statement from any of the popes which show that they knew of the irrationality.The Letter of the Holy Office 1949 does not directly state that the baptism of desire and invincible ignorance are explicit exceptions to the dogma.One has to imply it.

    Pope John Paul II indirectly affirmed the dogma on salvation but never directly dealt with the baptism of desire and the issue of being saved with invincible ignorance. Similarly Pope Paul VI held the traditional teaching of the church with respect to the salvation dogma(Evangelii Nuntiandi) (1). He never confronted the false premise. This premise led Catholics to assume that the baptism of desire etc were not only just possibilities known to God. They assumed that they were defacto exceptions to the defined dogma. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger may have known that the baptism of desire is not an exception to the dogma.It’s not clear. Vatican Council II does not make this error directly. It has to be implied by the reader.Neither does the Catechism of the Catholic Church claim that the visible dead are exceptions to the dogma. One has to wrongly assume it.

    The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) could only see the Council with a false premise. So they criticize Vatican Council in general and not the false premise in particular. There is a blanket criticism of Vatican Council II without identifying the premise of the visible dead saved on earth, which is a complete irrationality and is responsible for the interpretation of the Council which the SSPX criticizes.

    Well known apologists like Monsgr. Fenton, Fr.William Most and Fr.John Hardon S.J followed the popes assuming invincible ignorance and implicit desire were exceptions to the dogma. They all took it for granted that this was the new teaching from the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 issued by Pope Pius XII.

    If the Letter assumes that those who are in invincible ignorance are de facto known and so are exceptions this would be an objective error of the cardinals who issued the Letter.

    For over 20 years the archbishops of Boston did not lift the excommunication of Fr.Leonard Feeney assuming that the baptism of desire was an exception to the dogma. Even Fr. Schmaruk who represented the bishops and announced the lifting of the excommunication at a press conference, did not seem to know that the baptism of desire was never ever an exception to the dogma.It was not an issue.It was irrelevant.

    The real controversy and confusion has not been on the dogma itself but on the baptism of desire being exceptions to the dogma because there are alleged known cases in the present times. No one told the popes that the baptism of desire was not relevant to extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Even if the popes were informed the issue had become so complicated they would not know from where to start to correct it.Pope Pius XII may be knew about it but could not do anything because of the complications with the Archbishop of Boston from where the problem surfaced. It was Archbishop Humberto Medeiros, the Archbishop who replaced Cardinal Cushing, who seemed to understand that an injustice was done to Fr.Leonard Feeney.-Lionel Andrade

  • MJ

    Greg, I have searched online several times for a prayer for the intercession and canonization of Bl. John XXIII. Do you have one or share a link? God bless.

  • Emily D.

    Great article Greg! I’m also looking for a prayer for the canonization of Pope John! Does one exist?? Please post it for us! Thanks!!

  • Andy Maken

    I guess this pope doesn’t have a prayer……LOL