Remembering Papa Giovanni

Nearly 500 people came to the Catholic Center last Saturday to discover “Joy and Hope in the Light of the Gospel” at our annual New York Catholic Bible Summit, sponsored by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and the American Bible Society.

The theme was based on the opening words of the landmark Vatican Council II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes.  The English language keynoter, Peter Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in the Vatican, spoke of the extraordinary vision and determination of the Blessed Pope John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council, and of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, that emerged from the council. Dei Verbum called for the Bible to be read by Catholics, who previously had been discouraged from doing that.

This coming October, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the council. What a time it was! Thanks to the TelStar communication satellite, which had been launched into orbit in May of 1962, the television networks of the time were able to broadcast all the excitement, all the ceremonies, all the reports, and plenty of speculation from the council. Families  would watch this on the evening news, then sit down to dinner and talk about it.

Pope John’s pontificate lasted less than five years and yet, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he set the Catholic Church on a course of renewal that no one – and many have tried – has been able to change.

Noting the 49th anniversary of his passing on June 3, 1963, Sr. Patricia McCarthy, CND, wrote a remembrance of him for the Rhode Island Catholic.

Those old enough to remember Pope John and those days can bask in the memory of his brief, but glorious time. Those who were born later…well, you missed someone and something extraordinary. I hope that Sr. Patricia will inspire you to find out more about this remarkable man of God and about the fascinating and, as you will discover, terrifying times in which he led the church.

Remembering Papa Giovanni


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