Pope John XXIII was an outstanding revolutionist who made a significant contribution to the lives of adherents of Christianity, in particular, Catholicism. In the areas of positional/institutional, doctrinal, social/moral, and through his ongoing legacy, Pope John 23 made the most impact.
As Pope, John 23 was in a prime position to make a difference. Pope from 1958-1963, John 23 called the second Vatican council, in which they re-wrote the cade of canon law, reshaping the liturgy and the structure of the Roman Catholic Church.
This reshaping meant that Catholicism became more relevant to the people, as the language used shifted from Latin to that of the people. Pope John said, “We are born not to be museum keepers, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life”, which reflects the values he had in regard to being a pope accessible to all people. In a time in need of reform, Pope John 23 used his positional significance to make an extraordinary difference.
Doctrinally, Pope John made a great contribution in many ways.
Having edited 39 volumes from St. Charles Borromeo, Pope John also encouraged biblical scholarship, and he has stated that “history is the teacher of life”. He has also issues two encyclicals: “Mother and teacher” and “Peace on Earth”, both of which address some of the most serious issues the world was facing. The “Pastoral constitution on the modern church”, possibly one of the most important documents from Vatican II was written by him. These documents, as well as his personality and teaching provided a new basis for church teachings, meaning that Pope John 23 had in fact, been doctrinally significant.
Known as “The Good Pope”, John 23 made himself available to the people, thus contributing to the social and moral aspect of significance. “The priest who lives in the light of Christ cannot pass by on the other side of the road… Christ’s preference goes to the disinherited, the weak and the opposed” This statement reflects the strong moral conscience he possessed, and an example of his actions is given by the way in which he visited those in prison, and talking to communists. Respecting all people, Pope John believed that all people were equal, regardless of what religion they belonged to. Socially, and morally, Pope John set a significant example for others to follow.
Pope John has made a significant impact and has left an ongoing legacy. By setting up a meeting between the pope and the patriarch of Constantinople, the “kiss of peace” came about, enabling the healing of the rift between the Eastern orthodoxy churches, and the Roman Catholic Church, as a result of the great schism. Also, Pope John met with the archbishop of Canterbury. This move toward Ecumenism was the first of its kind, and has had an ongoing impact on Christianity. Along with setting the church with a new vision and renewing the liturgy, the Pope’s ongoing legacy has had an extremely significant impact.
As well as positional/institutional, doctrinal, social/moral significance and impact/ongoing legacy, pope john 23 has also been politically significant. In all of these ways, “the Good Pope” has made an everlasting contribution to the lives of adherents of Christianity.
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