We are quickly approaching the “canonizations” of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. While most Traditionalists are opposed to the “canonization” of JPII, there is some debate as to the worthiness of John XXIII to be declared a “saint”.
I’ve already addressed the question of whether or not Roncalli (John XXIII) deserves to be recognized as a “saint” in my article “Roncalli Canonized?”. The answer is “no”. But I would like to take this opportunity to respond to claims that Roncalli was not all that bad, or was somehow “more Traditional” and “less modernist” than Pope Pius XII, whom most Traditional Catholics recognize as the last Traditional Pope.
Traditio is one site which asserts that John XXIII was “more Traditional” than Pius XII. Here is an excerpt from a recent article of theirs:
“Even most traditional Catholics are ignorant how traditional John XXIII was in doctrine and liturgy, more traditional in many ways that his predecessor Pope Pius XII. Pius XII appointed the architect of the New Order Liturgy, the Freemason presbyter Hannibal Bugnini, who destroyed the Traditional Roman Rite. Pius XII wrote the ambiguous Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei (1947), which did not take decisive action against those Modernists who were already destroying the Traditional Latin Mass. On the other hand, John XXIII fired Bugnini, forbidding him to have any significant position at the Council, even calling him a “heretic.” John XXIII also wrote the Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia (1962), which strongly defended the exclusive use of Latin in the Roman liturgy and required priests to have 7-9 years of Latin.”
This assessment is far from accurate.
First of all, it is noted that Pope Pius XII wrote an “ambiguous Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei”, but a key fact which is ignored is that Pius XII also wrote “Humani Generis”, which is a great anti-modernist Encyclical.
Traditio also states that Pius XII was the one whom appointed Cardinal Bugnini, the Freemason whom was largely responsible for the Novus Ordo, while John XXIII “fired” Bugnini. But here we have several important facts which again are overlooked. For one, John XXIII’s opening address at the Second Vatican Council was inspired by Cardinal Montini, who may very well have been a Freemason himself (and whom collaborated with Bugnini to complete the Novus Ordo). Furthermore, while Roncalli was Nuncio to France, he appointed a close friend, Baron Yves Marsaudon, as head of the French branch of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic lay order. Marsaudon, a Freemason, praised the reforms that were being implemented by Roncalli and once even claimed that Roncalli himself was a Mason.
There are many other things to take into consideration here as well. Some of them I mentioned in my previous article on Roncalli, such as the Holy Office suspecting him of him being a modernist since at least 1925 (he would later admit, in a private audience with Archbishop Lefebvre, that he had been kept at a distance from the Roman curia prior to his election because he was said to have been a modernist), as well as his association with non-Catholics, including a priest who had been excommunicated in 1926 for heresy. None of these grave scandals can be attributed to Pope Pius XII.
Archbishop Lefebvre certainly did not share the view that John XXIII was “more Traditional” than Pius XII. In a 1982 conference, he stated this:
“Pope Pius XII was a great pope well in his writing as in his way of governing the Church. During the reign of Pius XII the Faith was firmly maintained. Naturally the liberals did not like him, for he brought back to mind the fundamental principles of theology and truth. But then John XXIII came along. He had a totally different temperament than Pius XII. John XXIII was a very simple and open man. He did not see problems anywhere.”
Bishop Williamson echoed the belief of the Archbishop during a conference he gave at Post Falls, Idaho, in 2013. He remarked that John XXIII considered the modern world “nice” and that the Church needed to be “reconciled” with the world.
Finally, here is an excerpt from John XXIII’s opening address at the Second Vatican Council:
“In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.
We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.
In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men’s own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfillment of God’s superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.”
This seems to confirm that Bishop Williamson was correct in his assessment; what is essentially being said in the above address is “Away with those who talk about how bad off the world is today! There is plenty of good in today’s world! Let us strive to reconcile the Church with the modern world”.
Also, “a new order of human relations” seemed to be a subtle suggestion of what was to come, namely, ecumenising with false religions. The choice of words, however, is also most interesting. He speaks of a “new order”. Could he have been hinting at the New World Order? It certainly would not be a stretch to wonder if this is the case. In fact, Paul VI would go on to specifically endorse a “New World Order” at the United Nations in 1967, followed by Benedict XVI calling for a NWO in 2009.
Because of all these facts, I therefore see absolutely no reason to conclude that John XXIII was “more Traditional” than Pope Pius XII, or that he wasn’t all that bad. The facts simply do not support such a ludicrous assertion. On the contrary; Pope Pius XII, though not perfect, was an angelic shepherd who did much good for the Church. It was his successors – Roncalli, Montini, and the rest of them – who disregarded the teachings of Pius and the other Popes, leading to a truly unprecedented apostasy from the Faith as a direct result of Vatican II.
Do not be deceived. John XXIII was no friend of Tradition, nor have any of his successors been so.