Vatican Insider spoke with Archbishop Loris Capovilla, who was Blessed John XXIII’s secretary.
Francis called you to give you a very special greeting. Do you think he is following in Roncalli’s footsteps?
“They have the same passion for people. In his last month on Earth, John XXIII had the outskirts of Rome brimming with people. This is where the title “Good Pope” was invented. Members of the upper class turned their nose up at this, asking: “Why were other Popes bad exactly?” The people saw him as a child of theirs who had risen to the Throne of Peter. Francis was welcomed by everyone, like a living message of dialogue and fraternity. What Francis and John XXIII have in common is a thirst for sharing and the search for a solution for mankind. When he was on his deathbed, Roncalli kept on repeating: “I haven’t changed one thing. I say the same prayers and the same Creed as when I was a child, but now we are beginning to gain a better understanding of the Gospel.” Like John, Francis said: wherever they set their feet down, their heart’s there too. And people understand this.”
What is it about Bergoglio that reminds you of John XXIII the most?
“The example he is setting in terms of his contact with people. When he looks at someone he doesn’t ask himself whether they are Christian, a head of State or a humble person. The way he sees it, everyone has God stamped on their forehead, so they should be loved. If these people have embraced Jesus, even better. Francis is a bearer of the Gospel, he does not judge. Watching our fellow humans struggling goes against the principle of Christian civility. This is a message that is passed on to society… In Church and in politics there is a need for the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration, that places emphasis on the things that unite not the things that divide. This is the great lesson we learn from John and Francis.”