Monday, November 21, 2005
The "Lost" Pope John PaulBut not forgotten, at least not by Ruth Bertels. A readable five-part series on the Taking Five web site. An excerpt: In the Vatican, Pope John XXIII, was looking for a bishop to fill the vacancy of Vittorio Veneto, and chose Luciani for the post. He was consecrated bishop by the pope on December 27, 1958 in St. Peter’s Basilica. The new bishop’s first words to his congregation went like this: "With me the Lord uses yet again his old system. He takes the small ones from the mud of the streets. He takes the people of the fields. He takes others away from their nets in the sea or the lake, and he makes them Apostles. It’s his old system." When his four-hundred priests had gathered to welcome him with gifts and food and money, he declined them with these words: “I come without five lire. I want to leave without five lire.” "My dear priests. My dear faithful. I would be a very unfortunate bishop if I didn’t love you. I assure you that I do, and that I want to be at your service and put at your disposal all of my poor energies, the little that I have and the little that I am." The bishop fit in with his flock. He dressed as a simple priest, and practiced a form of democracy that was rare among bishops. He didn’t make appointments to the presbyterial council, which was elected by the priests without nominations from the bishop. One time, Luciani made the decision to keep a small, minor seminary open, against the wishes of the council. Consequently, he went around and interviewed his parish priests, with the result that he changed his mind and closed the seminary, then stated publicly that he had been wrong, his priests correct.