Here’s to our murder-less mystery story, where its religious-ecclesiastical background calls for careful threading, though no issues of faith or belief are involved. I am referring to the Second Vatican Council, (1961–1964), some of its deliberations, the shadowy maneuvers that brought them about, and the implications and consequences for the brethren and the world at large. The Council implemented profound changes, of which many faithful are probably not fully aware, and from which the Catholic Church has perhaps not yet recovered.
But first some background. The late 1950s were a time of critical ideological tension. In Italy, Communist governments, provincial and local, ran and administered large swaths of the country. There was a chance that in the next political elections the Communists could win the majority.
Understandably, America was concerned and had disturbing contingency plans should the enemy win. In this, I think, they misunderstood Italy’s collective psychology. For one, many had already perceived the utopian nature of Marxist egalitarianism and sensed that a Communist state would resemble a convent or a prison. But they also knew that, if the Italian Communists won, they would quickly convert the convent into a brothel and the prison into a discotheque. That is, a change in name but not in substance.
Still, Pope Pius XII, who died in 1958, came from a noble family with a long history of service to the Church. Now policy and the political winds called for a Pope with a different background, a “populist” we would say today — one whose humble origins would implicitly raise favor among the discontent, hope in the disenfranchised and sympathy in the downtrodden.
Pope John XXIII filled the bill, for he was the fourth among thirteen children in a family of sharecroppers. And soon he acquired the byname of “good.” From then on, the masses knew him as “the Good Pope.”
Logic is never a friend of mass psychology, for ‘good’ is a relative term. Good compared to whom? In fact, according to a meaningful section of past and current Catholic thinkers, John XXIII was a disaster. Read more