In my lifetime there have been seven popes. I was born during the papacy of Pius XII. And remember clearly the election of John XXIII [and how his taking the name XXIII affirmed the antipapal status of the anti-pope of the Western Schism]. Probably the first time I heard Viva Il Papa! There was the immense impact of Vatican II and how it changed our lives but not our faith.
I remember the controversy over Pius XII, the second world war, the Vatican neutrality, Jews and Hitler. It’s a bit vague but still. After John, Paul VI. Tom and I have a certificate from Rome, still in it’s cylinder with the Vatican City stamps, a blessing on our marriage by Paul VI. And then the quick Papacy of John Paul I. It was, then it wasn’t. And, John Paul II. JP2 we called him, almost from the beginning. He was the first Pope who was more than Italian, who was out there, in the public eye. A catholic rock star! And he was good for the church people but maybe, in a historical sense, not so good for the church management. It’s hard to be a rockstar and a CEO. And, God Love him, Benedict XVI. No doubt in my mind a good and holy man, who had the moral courage to take a step that had not been trod in centuries…the wisdom to understand the church needed different guidance, and the light of the holy spirit to be able to accept what many would question.
Habaem Papum. Viva Il Papa!