The papacies of John XXIII and John Paul II are connected in their dedication to God and to lives of priestly service, a cardinal who worked with both of the pontiffs stressed.
“The two Popes are linked above all by the fact that they were Popes, and Saint Popes, and this is connected with the deepness of their ministry, of a life totally dedicated to their priestly service,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Cardinal Poupard worked at the Secretariat of State beginning in 1959, the second year of John XXIII’s papacy.
In 1980, John Paul II appointed him head of the Secretariat for Non-Believers, and he was president of the Pontifical Council for Culture from 1988 to 2007.
In an April 15 interview with CNA, the cardinal stressed the deep spirituality of both Popes.
He noted that Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the man who became Pope John XXIII, chose as his episcopal motto “Oboedientia et pax,” which means, “Obedience and peace.”
“When you read ‘Journal of the Soul,’ the daily diary Roncalli sketched, you read at one point that he stated: ‘Obedience and peace: this is the secret of my life,’” he said.
Cardinal Poupard underscored that John Paul II lived the same trust in God, so much so that he chose the episcopal motto “Totus tuus,” which means, “All yours.”
“The motto came from the treatise on the true devotion to the Virgin Mary, written by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, which John Paul II read and meditated on while he was working at the chemical factory Solvay and also attending the clandestine seminary,” he recounted.
In addition, the cardinal said, while Pope John Paul II’s work against communism is remembered today, it is sometimes forgotten that “in an era of cold war, John XXIII started to tear down the Iron Curtain, and also gained the Balzan Prize for peace, unanimously voted by a jury which included a member of the Soviet Union.”
Cardinal Poupard said he is “very grateful to Pope Francis for joining the two Popes in one only act of canonization, since, if there had not been John XXIII, there would not have been John Paul II. And I can testify to it.”
The two Popes are linked, while at the same time being very different from one another, the cardinal observed.
“These differences are the beauty of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Poupard concluded. “The Lord prepares every saint His own way.”