RUMORS swirled about a priest’s drinking in pubs and merrymaking in parties. The unwelcome reports reached the bishop. To investigate the matter, the bishop himself, accompanied by another priest, traveled to the mountain village where the parish was.
When the two reached the parish rectory, people informed them that the priest in question was not around. Pressed for information, someone told the bishop that the priest was merrily drinking with friends in a local bar.
So, the bishop told his young assistant to look for the erring priest; when finally located, the priest was told to go back immediately to face the bishop.
Seeing his bishop, the padre promptly knelt and kissed the bishop’s ring, but his bishop gently held his arm telling him to sit down. The priest was surprised when his bishop humbly and kindly said, “Bless me, Father, for I too am a sinner.”
The bishop later became the Patriarch of Venice: his name Card. Giovanni Roncalli. Born in 1881 to a humble tenant farmer family in Sotto il Monte, Bergamo, Italy, the young Giovanni, one of 13 children, became a priest, later bishop, patriarch and cardinal.
At the age of 76, he got elected pope and assumed the name, John XXIII, selecting “Obedience and peace” as his motto. Due to his age people believed that after the death of “the care-taker pope,” a “real” and “more lasting pope” would be elected.
However, he surprised millions when, with enthusiasm and energy, he initiated the renewal of the Church by convoking the Second Vatican Council.
John XXIII also authored the encyclical “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on the Lands [earth]).
Today, millions fondly remember the “kind and gentle Pope St. John XXIII.”