Blessed Pope John XXIII

Blessed Pope John XXIII

We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons … are fully determined to restore this language [Latin] to its position of honor and to do all We can to promote its study and use. The employment of Latin has recently been contested in some quarters, and many are asking what the mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter. We have therefore decided to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored. ~Pope John XXIII, Veterum Sapientia, February 22, 1962

The media loves to fashion alternate narratives when it comes to writing about the Catholic Church’s recent history. It’s a great way to undermine the Church’s mission, i.e., convince a majority of something completely untrue by repeating the same thing over and over. Before you know it, the myth becomes the new reality and the actual reality becomes an illusion. Those left defending the truth are small in number and appear awkwardly out-of-touch. As has been well documented here at Cream City Catholic, the most popular example of this nowadays has to do with the revisionist history regarding the Second Vatican Council. There’s what the Council actually did, or intended to do, which a simple reading of the documents will make abundantly clear, and then there’s what the “council” accomplished in the eyes of the media and liberals. The success of this strategy has been remarkable, as we now have a healthy majority of Catholics, many priests and bishops even, who believe that Vatican II was all about revolutionizing the Church’s liturgical life.

Ready for the next media narrative? In case you didn’t know, Blessed Pope John XXIII was a trailblazing liberal. Yes, that’s right. He was all about upsetting the established order with his call for the Second Vatican Council. At least, that’s what you’d believe if you accepted the media’s narrative of the man, as this AFP story makes abundantly clear: “Pope Francis looks to heal Church with two pope saints”. The article presents Pope John XXIII as a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. That would be a logical conclusion if you already bought into the established false narrative regarding Vatican II, a council which this Pope inaugurated. On the other hand, there’s Pope John Paul II, the conservative hero who foiled the Council’s (and John XXIII’s) supposedly revolutionary aims. The canonization of both popes is Pope Francis’ attempt to bring the two warring factions together. From the article:

 Conferring sainthood on John XXIII and John Paul II means bringing together two distinct schools of thought on what a pope should be — a humble parish priest figure or a globetrotting, charismatic superstar.

John Allen, a Vatican affairs expert at the Boston Globe in the United States, has written that the joint canonisation shows Francis’s “inclusive spirit”.

“Francis is speaking not just to the outside world but to rival camps within the Catholic fold who see John XXIII and John Paul II as their heroes — meaning liberals and conservatives, respectively,” he said. . . .

Less widely known than Poland’s Karol Wojtyla, Italy’s Angelo Roncalli [John XXIII] played a key role in modernising Catholicism in the 1960s and to this day inspires progressives who want a more down-to-earth Church.

(Notice, from the first paragraph, John Paul II must not have been a very humble priest, and had no idea what it was like to work in a parish. And John XXIII must have had a very dry personality as Pope, with zero charisma. Of course, all those assumptions are completely false.)

But was John XXIII a “progressive” in the media’s sense of the word?

Surely the Pope sought to reinvigorate the Church and find ways to better communicate her timeless teachings to the modern world. But does this make him a hope and change progressive that the media can wholeheartedly embrace? The success of the “John XXIII was a liberal” narrative hinges on the success of the media’s redefinition of Vatican II. If Vatican II really was a radical, albeit incomplete, reform of the Church, then the Pope who inaugurated it must be a progressive, right?

Peter Kwasniewski, a writer over at the New Liturgical Movement, recently began a series of articles entitled “Pope John XXIII in His Own Words”. He offers the following observation:

Reading, many years ago, his spiritual diaries, published as Journal of a Soul, inoculated me against the now-common portrait of John XXIII as a proto-modernist. I highly recommend this eye-opener of a book. The reader will discover in John XXIII a thoroughly traditional Catholic—one who would be vastly more at home today in a Fraternity of Saint Peter parish or an Institute of Christ the King chapel than in the overwhelming majority of postconciliar Catholic parishes.

Already knowing a little bit about Pope John XXIII and his traditional ways, especially when it came to liturgy (see the picture and re-read the quote about Latin above), I could only laugh when I read the AFP article. The media cannot help itself when it comes to desperately trying to fit a political left or right shackle on the Church’s mission. Is sheer journalistic laziness or a calculated agenda to blame? I happen to believe it’s the latter. And that’s no laughing matter.