THE SIX POPES
OF ST. MALACHY - PASTOR AND BOATMAN: POPE
JOHN XXIII (RONCALLI)
Malachy describes John XXIII as
"Pastor et Nauta." A boatman or mariner directs the sailing of a
boat and so did John with his aggiornamento.
While Pius XII was angelic in
his aloofness, John was approachably human. Pius was a guardian angel
hovering over the Church. John was a very physically present navigator
of his ship, the Church. Like an angel flying over the waves, Pius
could see all the dangers around the Church; like when he saw clearly that
the worker-priest experiment did much harm and no good. John, being
a mariner in the ship, saw the immediate dangers but sometimes missed
a few that were behind the high waves.
Like most saints, he started
young, entering the seminary at 12. Before becoming Pope, God trained
him to be a true navigator, directing the welfare of the Church as
Bishop diplomat through such stormy waters as atheistic France,
Turkey, Bulgaria and Athens. He expertly rode the waves, giving in in
one direction so that more important gains might be made in
As Pope, he launched the Church
with the Ecumenical Council against the advice of the Curia. The motto
of the Council: to renew the spiritual life of Christians.
With John's death, world leaders
began to learn how to mourn the death of a Pope because, like him, they were
also navigators in their own right and they saw how expertly John did it --
not without hazards but with such ease and confidence as if a Hidden Power
was helping. But isn't that so?
John was Pastor and
Navigator. Anyone looking at the amiable face of their pilot could not
help feeling that they would all make it through the storm.