Pope John XXIII held office for only five years, but he remains one of the most popularly beloved popes in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, not only by Catholics but also by non-Catholics. He had spent twenty-five years as a papal diplomat for Bulgaria, Turkey and France, and six years as archbishop of Venice, not being elected pope until he was 77. Pope John XXIII is perhaps best known for bringing together the second council that promoted the unity of all christian churches at the Vatican, known as Vatican II. What is particularly important to remember about Vatican II is that it differed from previous councils in a very important manner. Earlier councils typically came together to correct some doctrinal error which was becoming too popular, but John XXIII specifically rejected this as his purpose. John once said, "Nowadays men are condemning errors of their own accord." Among John’s other efforts, like to to reform, reenergize, and modernize the church, over the objections of many conservative church officials. John is admired by more enlightened elements of the church. John XXIII's personal warmth, good humour and kindness entirely captured the world's affections, the key to his success.
Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli was born on November 25th, 1881, in Sotto il Monte, a small country village in the Bergamo province in the Lombardy region of Italy. He was the first born son of Giovanni Battista Roncalli and Marianna Giulia Mazzolla in a family of thirteen. He went off to prepare for the priesthood as a child of eleven and he kept in close touch with his peasant roots and spent summers working the fields with his brothers. Roncalli was not an especially brilliant student. However, he did well enough to be sent to Rome for theological studies in 1900. He entered the seminary where his higher studies gave him expertise in Church history, especially in the period of the Reformation and Counter Reformation and in the writings of the... [continues]
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