Vatican City (Fides Service) – During the General Audience on June 4, in St Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II spoke about Blessed John XXIII who died forty years ago on June 3. “Our thoughts return spontaneously to Monday June 3, 1963: that afternoon when faithful and pilgrims in Rome came in their thousands to St Peter’s Square to be a near as possible to their beloved Shepherd and Father who, after a long and painful sickness, was leaving this world” said the Pope, recalling that “from St Peter’s Square overflowing with people the universal prayer of the Church was lifted up to heaven”. John XXIII had prepared with serenity for his passing, offering his life for the Church, for the continuation of the Ecumenical Council, for peace in the world and for the unity of Christians.
“Less than two months earlier, on April 11, John XXIII had issued the most famous document of his Magisterium: Pacem in terris, which I have often had occasion to recall this year. The entire life of the unforgettable Pontiff was a witness of peace. His Pontificate revealed itself as a noble prophecy of peace, which found in Pacem in terris its complete manifestation, almost a public and universal testimony…My venerable Predecessor, who left his mark on history, tells also men and women of the third millennium that the secret of peace and joy lies in deep and constant communion with God. The Heart of the Redeemer is the source of love and peace, hope and joy”. Lastly the Holy Father called for the intercession of Blessed Pope John “so that we too, like him, may confess that we have sought nothing but Christ and his Gospel”. SL (Fides Service 5/6/2003 EM lines 20 Words: 293)