John XXIII, the Good Pope

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope John XXIII focused on the pastoral aspect of his office. He often went outside the walls of the Vatican, which allowed him to fully assume his role as bishop of Rome. He was known for his visits in the Roman parishes, to the children's hospital, and to the prison.

In a symbolic gesture, he broke with the tradition of eating meals alone and requested that l’Osservatore Romano refrain from using superlatives when referring to the pope. On January 25, 1959, he summoned the ecumenical council of the Vatican that opened on October 11, 1962, one month after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

On October 25, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, Pope John XXIII launched an appeal for peace. A few months later, on April 11, 1963, he promulgated the encyclical Pacem in terris, which was regarded as his spiritual testament.

After several weeks of agony, Pope John XXIII passed away on June 3, 1963.

The following is a presentation of some of Saint John XXIII's major writings.


Pope John XXIII and Peace between Nations

John XXIII was elected pope on October 28, 1958, at age 77. Because of his age, it was thought that he would be a caretaker pope; however "temporary" his papacy was expected to be, it proved to be an extraordinary one. He shook the Church by convoking the ecumenical council of the Vatican commonly referred to as Vatican II (1962-1965), with the aim of modernizing the Church and making her more accessible to his contemporaries.

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Mater et Magistra (1961)

Mother and Teacher of all nations. These are the words with which Pope John XXIII began his encyclical "on recent developments of the social question in the light of Christian teaching." The Universal Church not only has the role of sanctifying people's souls , but must also concern herself with their daily lives, with regard to their livelihood and living conditions .

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