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Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli: Pope John XXIII
(Excerpt from Airwaves - published collection of editorials)
By William O'Shaughnessy
Copyright 1963 William O'Shaughnessy

Essay about tributes to Pope John XXIII, as written by Morris West.
Last year, as Nancy and I toured the underground crypt at St. Peter's, in Rome, where all the popes are buried, I overheard another tourist tell his young son, "Look... this was the 'Good Pope.' "
There were reams of it - some phony, most heartfelt and sincere.
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, son of poor peasants, who looked like Yogi Berra, had died. The great and the near-great of journalism took a crack at eulogizing him who needed none.
The two best tributes were made by Morris West, writing for Life, and Emmet John Hughes, a contributor to Newsweek. West was very good. He is an Australian who has written two highly respected and popular books centered around the world of the Vatican. Life carried his straightforward and moving description of the peasant pope; it captured the simplicity of John XXIII and the deep sadness of mankind at losing the gentle prelate.
Said Morris West: "I am very close to tears as I begin to set down these words. What can I say of a man so manifestly good, so manifestly the victim - or is it the victor- in a drama of divine irony whose poignant prayer as he lies stricken, is not for the salvation of his own soul but for the salvation of a work begun in the name of God? I have no dignity in the Church. I have no personal merit to commend me for the task of writing a eulogy, save perhaps this - that I am, in the spirit, a stumbling son of Angelo Giuseppi Roncalli."
Morris West concluded: "Will they canonize him, officially a saint in the calendar? In a way, I hope not. For my part, I do not want to see him idealized by a Vatican painter, lit by a thousand candles in St. Peter's, reproduced in plaster and gilt, and sold to pious pilgrims. I want to remember him for what he has been - a loving man, a simple priest, a good pastor, and a builder of bridges across which we poor devils may one day hope to scramble to salvation."
The world was also treated to a constant flow of magnificent words uttered by the Holy Father. None, however, caught the real John XXIII quite like those reported in Time, the weekly newsmagazine. The story goes that the pope and a young North American archbishop were discussing the political and diplomatic skills sometimes required to deal with the Vatican hierarchy. Said John XXIII: "My son, when you stand before Jesus Christ, he is not going to ask you how well you got along with the Roman Curia, but how many souls you saved."
As written: "There was a man sent from God whose name was John."
But to the Son of a carpenter, one suspects the Good Pope was just always - Angelo Giuseppe.
June 1963