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Pope Francis on John XXIII: He was a man who let the Lord guide him

2014-04-22

For an hour and 22 minutes, Pope Francis held an improvised press conference on his flight back from Brazil. He answered all types of questions, including his thoughts on the future canonization of John XXIII. 

John XXIII reminds me of a typical local priest, the priest who loves all the faithful and who knows how to care for the faithful. He did this as a Bishop, and as a Nuncio. How many Baptismal certificates did he forge in Turkey to help the Jews! He was courageous, a good parish priest, with a great sense of humor, and great Holiness. 

When he was nuncio, some didn't support him in the Vatican. When he would travel to Rome to deliver something or to ask a question, certain offices would make him wait. But he never complained. He would pray the Rosary and say the breviary. He was meek and humble, and he was always concerned with the poor. 

When Cardinal Casaroli returned from a mission, I believe it was from Hungary or from what was then Czechoslovakia, I don’t remember which. The Cardinal went to see the Pope to tell him how the mission went. Back then it was the diplomacy of "small steps.” So, the Pope and Cardinal Casaroli met – 20 days later Pope John XXIII died. But he remembers how after their meeting, the Pope stopped him. He said, 'Your Eminence, or rather your Excellency, I have a question: "Are you still going to see those young people?” He asked because Cardinal Casaroli had been going to the juvenile prison in Casal del Marmo to visit young prisoners. Cardinal Casaroli said: "Yes, yes!” The Pope said: "Never abandon them.” 

Saying this to a diplomat, who is returning from a diplomatic mission and a very important trip...To have John XXIII say: "Never abandon the young.” This is how great he was, how great!

He was also a man of the Council. He was a man open to the voice of God. It came to him through the Holy Spirit, and he was docile to the Spirit. Pius XII had thought about calling the Council, but the circumstances weren’t right. I believe that John XXIII didn’t think about the circumstances. He felt and acted. He was a man who let the Lord guide him. 


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