Pope John died yesterday. A holy and good man, and he was both because he was first of all a man — that is to say, human. This is the great meaning of his papacy, of the Council, of Pacem in Terris. Not humanism, “but the bare statement of the fundamental value of humanity.” Pacem in Terris is not theological. It simply says war is unhuman, and therefore a sin — (not war is a sin and therefore you must not use the bomb). Certainly everyone loved him, and statements to this effect, despite the fact that language is too exhausted to convey it, are probably sincere. May he rest in peace, this great and good Father, whom I certainly loved, and who had been good to me, sending me the stole and many blessings. And I don’t think he has stopped being a father to us, to me. He will one day be canonized, I think (if we last that long), and I do not hesitate to ask his intercession now.
Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume Four, 1960-1963, edited by Victor A. Kramer
Several schemata consider the Church too much as an institution under siege which the Council must defend; they do not see in it enough the radiant depositary of the salvation to be shared. In them the Church has the aspect of an institution more juridical than missionary. They don’t show the courage to turn frankly to the present world, toward its needs, toward its new and legitimate demands. They seem to believe, instead, that it will be enough to repeat, with more insistence but without deepening the doctrine, formulas which already the world no longer can understand. They seem to believe that the losses of faith, the deterioration of morality, the failures of the apostolate have no other causes than the inattention of men or the malice of the times; they do not ask if the obsolete character of certain forms of the Church’s thought and action also play some role in it.
From a letter to Pope John XXIII, August 1962, as quoted in Alberigo and Komonchak, The History of Vatican II, Volume I.
I pray to God that I may die before the Council—in that way I can die a Catholic.
From John XXIII: Pope of the Century by Peter Hebblethwaite (p.213).
The time has come to put an end to this nonsense. Either the Biblical Commission will bestir itself, do some proper work and by its suggestions to the Holy Father make a useful contribution to the needs of the present time, or it would be better to abolish it and let the Supreme Authority replace it in the Lord by something else.
Angry at the backward, literalistic views of the Biblical Commission and its attacks against Cardinal Agustin Bea, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where progressive approaches to biblical scholarship were favored. From John XXIII: Pope of the Century by Peter Hebblethewaite (p. 211).
Seven inches of condemnations and one of praise:
is that the way to talk to the modern world?
After taking a ruler to a page of one of the haughty and pompous schemata, drafts prepared by the curia for approval of the Council Fathers. From John XXIII: Pope of the Century by Peter Hebblethwaite (p. 213).
This Church is stuffy, dusty, narrow…the hierarchy has been immobile, stupid, passive, repressive, etc. etc. The closed mind of the Churchmen today!
What I fear is that [the Council] will only engender a lot of intense activity and legislation, decrees, “reforms” etc. which will authoritatively impose a lot of new obligations and change all the burdens from one shoulder to the other. Without freeing the heart to receive the Holy Spirit in abundance.
They are not easily beguiled. They know and have known for years how to make a lot of fuss and tighten up a lot of bolts in lieu of real reform…
Journal entry for March 9, 1962, Feast of St. Gregory of Nyssa. From Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume Four 1960-1963, edited by Victor A. Kramer (p. 209).
A docile soul is like a vase into which God pours inspirations, making use of many people. When we are open to receive, the Lord speaks through any person he chooses.
How serious is my need to be shot by the John Birch Society?
Confused about his motivations for publishing Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander in a journal entry for January 25, 1962, from Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume Four, 1960-1963