Pope John's New Pentecost

Anthony Towey

Although his lifetime crossed with mine, I have no memory of Saint Pope John XXIII. Instead I can trade that deficit for over 50 years hearing and reading tributes to 'Good Pope John' who seems to have transcended boundaries of denomination and religion as a global figure of faith. Within the Church he is undoubtedly most famous for calling the Second Vatican Council which has had innumerable repercussions within the Catholic community. I am becoming persuaded, however, that if that hasn't caused enough trouble already, the Good Pope may not be finished with us yet.

Let me explain. Pope John XXIII did not just summon a Council, he also prayed for a New Pentecost. All very well, but given the slightest familiarity with the first one, I do think that a successor of Peter might have offered fair warning of what was to come. After all, in large part the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles alternates between miracle and riot and while the recalibrated co-ordinates of ecclesial praxis at Vatican II have been as nothing compared to the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, the changes have inevitably caused upset and similarly heated debate. Moreover, the kind of theological contrasts one might witness these days between 'right and left' pale besides the differences evident among the apostles, as Paul's dispute with Peter and the companions of James attests (see Galatians 2.11-21).

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