Until John XX111 I was not, as an Anglican clergyman, very interested in the concept of the Papacy, owing to its representatives seeming as remote as the Dalai Lama. John was succeeded by a very holy man who nd oe st he rinvge s eitsoe, bteh en r e mfbermhb:. edag. nlfi s ifnogr
over the suffering creation. But in his agonising he forgot to smile and again we were faced with remoteness.
Then came John Paul 1, and during that glorious September I came
to realise that all that the Catholic
Church claims for the Pope as that Supreme Pastor whom we need as an earthly focus for our Faith — as the Vicar of Christ, in other words — is true.
I could say that he was my Pope, my Holy Father. Lest this be thought mere sentimentalism, I must add that, even if he be succeeded by another unsmiling Pope, John Paul I has
changed my views on the papacy: any future Pope would be my Holy Father; I acknowledge my relationship to such a person.
And there are many Anglicans who with passionately to remain in communion with Canterbury, the Church of their fathers, yet who wish equally pasionately for the Church of England to acknowledge the unique position of the Pope.
They long also for the CitholiC Church to open its arms (with that
welcome so often demonstrated by John Paul I) to a Communion which wants to remain itself yet at the same time to be "associated" (to some degree or other yet to be determined by the Holy Spirit) with the Catholic Church under the same papal umbrella.
If I feel like this, why do I not enter the Roman fold? Because when I was 21, with no thoughts of being ordained, I suddenly heard God say to me, while alone in an office: "John, you are going to be a priest". Eight years later I was ordained, and I have not the remotest doubt that I was made a priest of the Holy Catholic Church.
Nothing can ever shake me from that opinion, any more than anything could shake me from the conviction that I celebrate Mass and am the humble agent of God making bread
and wine into the Body and Blood of
Christ. (Had I any doubts, they would be removed by the fact that, when administering the Sacrament of Unction, those who were fatally sick have recovered).
My brothers and sisters in Christ, I long for the unity of Christ's Body the Church, and the way that I must personally contribute to this is not by becoming a Roman Catholic but by remaining within the fold of Canterbury, working from where God has put me. Name and address supplied'
The death of the late lamented John Paul I is a lesson to all of us. No matter how long, life here on earth, is short, compared to eternity. The very fact that death came suddenly, in a moment when he was alone, shows that we must be prepared to face our Maker at any given moment of time.
Like John Paul I, we do not know the minute, or the hour, or the length of days. Of course, he had already
made his contribution to the salvation of souls. His warmth, love of fellow creatures, signs of a true Christian, won all hearts (with a few exceptions, bigotry being the root cause).
It is strange to think that one so sickly from childhood, should live to become Head of The Church Christ founded, His Vicar on Earth.
Almighty Father, "You choose the weak, and make them strong" the physically weak, becoming spiritually strong through the working of The Holy Spirit, Coming from God the Father, through His Saviour Son.
John Paul I accepted the role in all humility and simplicity, and although his reign was short, he has left a lasting impression of child-like obedience. We are free to choose, as will the next successor to Saint Peter, who accepted the role, given him by Christ, without question, proving great faith in the Master. The very fact that Christ chose a simple, unlearned, fisherman, and not an intellectual, teaches us the lessons of faith in the Power of the Almighty and His Son, hope in their saving help, and love in obedience to the will of the Father.
Elizabeth, Mary Condon Glasgow, 05.
With the world scene building up for what can only be termed "tribulation" the character of the next Pope is going to be particularly critical.
Is God telling us something by the death after 33 full days or a Pope called John Paul? The number 33 was the life-span of Christ and the significance is that the ministry started by Pope John XXIII and continued by Pope Paul VI is finished.
What next? The Church is waiting for a new Pope Gregory who will 'shake things up.
According to the 12th century Irish St Malachy we are about to elect the third last Pope before the second corning of Jesus. Yes, the key word is "watchful".
Anthony Shaun Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada.
It is clearly not the job of any new Pope to fit in with the language and organisation of the Curia in Rome. The truth is quite the reverse.
If the Curia cannot understand the language of the Pope then they can either learn his language or make way for those who do understand. The Bishopric of Rome which goes with the papacy is a sinecure which is always delegated.
May I say that I have a great love for all things Italian — except the Mafia?
Christopher O'Reilly Pour Lanes, Cornwall.