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The 20th Century Seen Through The Eyes Of John XXIII

2009-04-02

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, John XXIII, called the Good Pope for his great humanity, had gone through two wars as papal nuncio before being appointed patriarch of Venice.

Many people knew that he had written diaries since he was 14 years old. But until today, only his spiritual agenda, the Journal of the Soul, had been published. John Paul II, in accelerating his process of beatification held in 2000, encouraged historians to study and publish his private writings.

After nearly 25 years of study, that vision has become reality: ten volumes of notes, written along more than 60 years, that reveal not only his rich spiritual life, but his extraordinary diplomatic and pastoral adventure.

Alberto Melloni
Historian, University of Modena

They were on the one hand a sort of tools with which he wanted to train himself in understanding people, learning to listen to the others, to limit his judgements, and on the other hand he used these diaries to explain himself the twentieth century.

His diaries reveal for instance the concrete help that he gave to many Jews during World War II, when he was nuntius in Istanbult.  And most of all they show the in-depth vision of John XXIII on the historical passages of his time.

Alberto Melloni
Historiador, University of Modena

We can see his modernity in his relations with Judaism, with the Eastern Churches, with the parties of the labour movement, and also in his belief that when one looks for what unites men instead of what divides, he is actually not disobeying the Gospel, quite the contrary: its a form of obedience.

According to the observers, he should have been a transition Pope. And yet with the Second Vatican Council he inaugurated a reformation process that would have changed the relationship between the Church and the contemporary world.