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
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).
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