John XXIII - History

John XXIII - History


1881- 1963


Roman Catholic clergyman John XXIII was born Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli. He was ordained a priest in 1904 and steadily rose through the Vatican heirachy.

He was the first permanent observer of the Vatican to UNESCO. Chosen to be Pope in 1958, John is perhaps best remembered for his 1962 convening of the Second Vatican Council, also known as Vatican II, an ecumenical meeting which called for greater unity in the Christian church. Vatican II ushered in tremendous reforms within the Roman Catholic Church.

Angelo Roncalli was the fourth of Giovanni Roncalli and Marianna Mazzolla’s 13 children and also their eldest son. Like most people living in the village of Sotto il Monte, his family earned a living as sharecroppers. While Angelo was technically of Italian nobility, it came from a poor secondary branch. Roncalli received First Communion and his Confirmation in 1889, at age 8.

Roncalli enrolled into the Secular Franciscan order on March 1st, 1896, later becoming a full member on May 23rd, 1897. Roncalli finished his doctorate in Canon Law in 1904, becoming ordained on August 10th of that year. 1905 would see Roncalli become secretary to Bishop Radini-Tedeschi of Bergamo, a position he would maintain until Radini-Tedeschi’s death on Auguust 22nd, 1914. Radini-Tedeschi’s final words to his loyal secretary were that he should pray for peace.

World War I.

Roncalli was drafted into the position of sergeant for the Royal Italian Army, specifically serving within the medical corps as chaplain and stretcher-bearer. Upon his 1919 discharge, Roncalli was declared spiritual director of the seminary.

After World War I.

After meeting with Pope Benedict XV on November 6th, 1921, Roncalli was inducted into the Society for the Propagation of the Faith as its Italian president. In 1925, Roncalli was appointed the Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria and also Archibishop of Areopolis. November 30th, 1934 would see him become the Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece, as well as the Archibisop of Mesembria, Bulgaria. Roncalli would use his influence to save thousands of refugee Jews throughout Europe.

Roncalli remained in Bulgaria at the time that World War II commenced, optimistically writing in his journal in April 1939, “I don’t believe we will have a war”. At the time that the war did in fact commence, he was in Rome, meeting with Pope Pius XII on 5 September 1939. In 1940, Roncalli was asked by the Vatican to devote more of his time to Greece therefore, he made several visits there in January and May that year.

Nuncio Roncalli.

December 22nd, 1944 would see Roncalli’s appointment to Apostolic Nuncia of France. This required him to negotiate retirement for several bishops whom had collaborated with the Nazis. In this new role, he used his influence to help anyone, mostly Jewish, fleeing from the Holocaust. This included delivering immigration certificates to Palestine, producing certificates indicating “baptisms of convenience” and freeing the captives of the Jasenovac and Sered concentration camps, among many other acts.

Cardinal-Priest Roncalli.

January 12, 1953 would see Roncalli’s appointment to Venetian Patriarch and Santa Prisca’s Cardinal-Priest. Vincent Auriol, the President of France, awarded him Commander of the Legion of Honour.

Parish History

The Parish of St. John XXIII is a combination of the two remaining Catholic Parishes in Tamaqua: St. Jerome’s and SS. Peter and Paul’s. In their days, SS. Peter and Paul’s Parish served primarily those of eastern European heritage St. Jerome’s served Irish, Italian, and other ethnicities.

The original St. Jerome’s Church was located at the sight of the old St. Jerome’s Cemetery, founded in 1834. Construction of a new church building on Broad St. began in 1856 and was completed in 1861. This Parish served Tamaqua and surrounding areas for many years until new Parishes were created due to the increasing number of Parishioners. In 1921 the church was renovated and construction of the school was begun under the guidance of Father Baker.

SS. Peter and Paul’s Lithuanian Catholic Church was founded 1913 on Pine St as a rectory and church. Masses were held in front of a fireplace. Lithuanian families became numerous in the Tamaqua area during this booming time, so a new church/school building was begun in 1927, opening at a much later time due to the Depression (kindergarten in 1941 and grade school in 1956). Rev. William Linkchorst was pastor of SS. Peter and Paul’s Parish for 30 years, retiring in 2014.

In 2012, Father John Frink became Pastor of St. Jerome’s Parish. When Fr. Linkchorst retired, the two churches remained open, but were unified into one Parish that was named St. John XXIII, with Father Frink serving as Pastor for both churches. Due to the operating expenses of maintaining both churches and the cost of repair for the “St. Jerome’s” Church building, the decision was made to close St. Jerome’s Church and unite the Parish into one building at SS. Peter & Paul Church. To commemorate the history of both Parishes and the merger, the church was remodeled, using some relics and furniture from each of the two churches as well as some new ones to begin a new united Parish.

The church’s remodel included woodworking for the altar and other furniture, repainting, and remodeling the old classrooms into a Parish center and Hall, under the guidance of Father John Frink. Using his own woodworking skills, and wood from the pews from St. Jerome’s Church, he added more fixtures, such as candleholders, tables and offertory collection box, to the church, matching the style of the woodworking. Over the period of these few years, Father Frink worked to expand prayer and healing options through expanding our ministries, discussion groups, and healing & worship opportunities, and in 2020, began construction of a Prayer Garden and Memorial for the Unborn in St. Jerome’s (new) cemetery.

Blessed John XXIII: From Humble Beginnings to a Lasting Legacy

Blessed John XXIII was the 260th successor of St. Peter, servingas pope from October 1958 to June 1963. He is best known for convening the Second Vatican Council.

Here are some highlights of Blessed John XXIII's life:

1881: Nov. 25, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the fourth in a family of 13 children to Giovanni Battista and Marianna Giulia Roncalli, a family of sharecroppers in Sotto il Monte, Italy.

1892: Enters the seminary at Bergamo.

1901: In Rome to further his studies, he takes a year off for military service.

1904: Aug. 10, is ordained a priest and serves as secretary to the bishop of Bergamo.

1905: Begins teaching history and patristics (the lives and teachings of the church fathers) at Bergamo seminary.

1915: Is called back to military service serves as medic and chaplain during World War I.

1918: Opens a hostel for students in Bergamo.

1921: Is called to Rome as the head of the Italian national office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

1925: Is named archbishop and appointed apostolic visitator to Bulgaria, where he works closely with Eastern Catholics.

1934: Transfers to Istanbul, where he serves as apostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece, improving relations with the Orthodox and Muslims.

1939-44: During World War II, he helps many Jews to escape Nazi persecution by issuing "transit visas" from the apostolic delegation and coordinating rescue plans with other ambassadors.

1944: Is named nuncio to Paris.

1953: Is named a cardinal and patriarch of Venice.

1958: Is called to Rome for a conclave is elected Oct. 28 and takes the name John XXIII. At age 76, he is the oldest pope to be elected in more than 200 years.

1960: Presides over the Rome diocese's first synod.

1961: Issues "Mater et Magistra" ("Mother and Teacher"), an encyclical on social issues that emphasizes the obligations of nations and individuals to bring about social justice. He creates the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity to lead the church into a new era of ecumenical relations.

1962: Oct. 11, opens the first session of the Second Vatican Council, which set in motion major reforms of the church, its structure, liturgy and relations with other Christians and other religions.

1963: At the height of the Cold War, he releases his second social encyclical, "Pacem in Terris" ("Peace on Earth"), teaching that true peace must be built on the pillars of truth, justice, love and freedom.

History, pathogenesis, and management of familial gastric cancer: original study of John XXIII's family

Background: Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer is associated with the E-cadherin germline mutations, but genetic determinants have not been identified for familial intestinal gastric carcinoma. The guidelines for hereditary diffuse gastric cancer are clearly established however, there are no defined recommendations for the management of familial intestinal gastric carcinoma.

Methods: In this study we describe Pope John XXIII's pedigree that harboured gastric cancer as well as six other family members. Family history was analysed according to the International Gastric Cancer Linkage Consortium criteria, and gastric tumours were classified in accord with the last Japanese guidelines.

Results: Seven out of 109 members in this pedigree harboured gastric cancer, affecting two consecutive generations. John XXIII's clinical tumour (cTN) was classified as cT4bN3a (IV stage). In two other cases, gastric carcinomas were classified as intestinal histotype and staged as pT1bN0 and pT2N2, respectively.

Conclusions: Pope John XXIII's family presents a strong aggregation for gastric cancer affecting almost seven members it spreads through two consecutive generations. In absence of defined genetic causes and considering the increased risk of gastric cancer's development in these families, as well as the high mortality rates and advanced stages, we propose an intensive surveillance protocol for asymptomatic members.

“A Universal Message”: Pope John XXIII on International Order in the Postwar World

On October 28 th , 1958, a billow of white smoke emanated from an antiquated narrow chimney on the Sistine Chapel and dissipated into the clear Roman sky. The faithful gathered within Saint Peter’s Square in solidarity with the billions the world over awaiting the ascendance of light smoke from a smoldering fire, and anxiously awaiting the “Habemus Papam” announcement. Nineteen years had passed since the last time a fire was ignited under that narrow chimney of the Sistine Chapel. They had been nineteen tumultuous years which had seen the most catastrophic and transformative global event in modern history, the Second World War. Across the span of nineteen years, the preceding structure of the temporal order was destroyed, its demise ratified in the blood of the millions killed in the conflict, and in its place, the modern political world had arisen. Back in March 1939, during the waning golden moments of international peace, the white smoke that time signaled the genesis of the papacy of Pope Pius XII. He was a man who not only astutely steered the Catholic Church but also guided the conscience of a violent world through its darkest hour.

The world was radically different in 1958. Indeed, the entire structure of the globe had been transformed in nineteen years. How to achieve an international order, as a transnational effort of nations and individuals to encourage peace, maintain freedom, and protect human rights, became the most enduring question of the postwar period. In the tradition of his immediate predecessors, the late Pope Pius XII had guided the world’s largest and oldest international institution, the Catholic Church, into the era of postwar modern internationalism. To the next man in his office would fall the responsibility to both preside over this universal organization and continue leading the Church from its infancy to maturity concerning international relations. On that autumn evening in 1958, the man charged with this task, the elderly Venetian prelate Angelo Roncalli, appeared above the central loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The papacy of Pope John XXIII had begun.

Considered one of the most influential papacies in history, the brief but pivotal reign of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), ratified the standing and policies of the Catholic Church in the light of the postwar international order. Consistent with the modern social teaching of the Catholic Church, as articulated by previous modern popes, John XXIII’s response to the new international order of the world, was built upon a classical view of Thomistic, or Scholastic, natural law theory (influenced by Saint Thomas Aquinas). [1] A renewed Neo-Scholasticism emerged in earnest in the European, and later the international sphere, and included the French philosopher Jacques Maritain. [2] Through his philosophical writings on the natural law, coupled with committee work in drafting the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Maritain not only influenced secular international institutions but also encapsulated in his writings a basis for teachings on internationalism based upon the natural law. To understand John XXIII, it is imperative to recognize the political intellectual tradition of both Thomas Aquinas, as well as some of his immediate papal predecessors, Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), and Pope Leo XII (1878-1903), through the lens of this revived natural law philosophy.[3] Consequently, by doing so an intellectual history can be made of how the world’s largest and oldest international societal institution, the Catholic Church, responded to a change in the secular postwar international world. Knowing this tradition of intellectual continuity allows for a more profound comprehension of the historical teaching of John XXIII for international order in his time. This also aids in recognizing his tremendous influence establishing a robust Catholic framework for international political questions during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and within the papacies of Paul VI (1963-1978), and John Paul II (1978-2005).[4] Specifically, John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris, the quintessential Catholic response to the international questions of the period, demonstrates how Thomistic natural law thinking on society became applied to Catholic teaching on the international order.[5] Pope John XXIII’s teaching for order in postwar international society was founded upon the Thomistic natural law tradition and this teaching later influenced Catholic policy on internationalism both in the Second Vatican Council and subsequent papacies.

Aiding in giving a broader context to the philosophical underpinnings of Pope John XXIII’s teachings on international society, Andrew Woodcock’s article, Jacques Maritain, Natural Law, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, argues and explains the influence and tangible effects of Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain’s views of Thomistic natural law in relation to the postwar international order.[6] Beginning with a thorough explanation of the historical-philosophical journey of natural law from Aristotle to the postwar period, the article allows the layman to grasp the arguments surrounding the essence of the natural law theory, or as the Woodcock argues, theories.[7] Subsequently, Woodcock explains the role of natural law philosopher Maritain, a primary formulator and intellectual groundbreaker who served as an influential committee-member on the drafting for the UNESCO’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Additionally, he tells how this man’s intellectual labor brought about a conscious awareness in the reemergence of the Thomistic view of natural law with internationalism as a Roman Catholic.[8] Incidentally, this includes Thomistic natural law’s interpretations of the development and proper end of society, which in this historical context was applied towards establishing international order in the form of human rights.[9] While tremendously useful in determining the natural law underpinnings of Catholic thought, its emphasis remains on Maritain and does not examine the teachings and influences of the contemporary papacies.

In the historical monograph, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace: The United Nations from Pius XII to Paul VI, Catholic Church historians Robert John Araujo and John A. Lucal collaborated to write what can be considered arguably the leading historical narrative and commentary on the history of the founding of the postwar International Order concerning the official standings of the papacy from 1945 to 1976. The monograph defends the thesis that the Vatican response to the international order of the postwar time was based firstly upon the Aristotelian premise of natural law, and secondarily that this viewpoint, which originated tangibly during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI, before being culminated in the United Nations address of Pope Paul VI in 1965.[10] This work demonstrates the combination of the historical continuity of multiple papacies while emphasizing the enduring principles of natural law undermining official Catholic views of internationalism. The work devotes considerable pages to particularly explain the vast influence of Pope John XXIII’s universal and pivotal encyclical Pacem in Terris.[11] This work serves as an inclusive framework from which refined arguments of the period can be conceived. Although it details specific papacies, issues, and the general historical narrative of Vatican-United Nations relations, the monograph does not give more than a passing explanation of the details regarding the rich philosophy of natural law theory and the importance that other contemporary Catholic intellectuals had on Catholic internationalism.

Few ideological pillars are of such preeminent importance and intricately essential to the soul of Western civilization as the tradition and development of the natural law doctrine. Historically in the West, it is upon the existence of an enduring moral natural law, that the elements of ethics and morality, religious philosophies, and the modern ideas of human rights, and democracies have been predicated.[12] The natural law theory has existed in some form in Western civilization since the Ancient Greeks and Romans’ discussion of justice.[13] While Aristotle and other Greco-Romans developed a basis of the natural law philosophy, they did not attempt to critically categorize the elements of the theory nor explain its origin.[14] These two goals became the enduring contributions of natural law’s greatest innovator, the medieval saint, Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’ substantial and influential Scholastic view of the natural law’s origins, limits, and uses, became organized as the classical, Thomistic, natural law theory.[15]

For Aquinas, the natural law was, “nothing else but the rational creature’s participation (understanding) of the eternal law (of God).”[16] Thus according to the twentieth-century Jacques Maritain, the natural law in relation to mankind is the unwritten and unchangeable intrinsic inclinations of man that are proper to his being’s essence given to the heart by God.[17] The natural law in this sense is synonymous with the moral law, and this right order of humanity can be attained in some part through natural reason. Particularly this is emphasized in the being’s self-evident realization of its “normality of functioning” (natural inclinations) of what it should or ought to be when directed to its teleological proper end.[18] Implicit in the context of seeking natural order, the should and ought aspects particularly demonstrate the ethical choice between what is good, or proper to a being’s end, and conversely what is evil towards it. Thomistic thought holds that man is both a person and an individual, that is to say, he is a whole bound not only to himself but also as a part of a community.[19] This idea of achieving the best in society for order, the common good of politics, is a combination of freedom, just authority, human goodness, and ethical morality.[20] For man, naturally a social creature, it is only fitting that human laws, such as those between nations, protection of human rights, and the preservation of peace, be set upon this Thomistic natural moral law for the preservation of the common good. It is through this understanding of what is good for his nature, that temporal, or human laws can be established.[21] Hence, the political state, and later international order for Maritain, is responsible for facilitating the higher implementations of the common good under natural law.[22] Subsequently, these beliefs of the common good and the natural law would form the basis of the twentieth-century eras papacies’ teachings on internationalism. While a discussion of the intricacies and minutiae of Thomistic natural law theory is a task best left to philosophical treatises than this intellectual history, there are six main principles in the classic theory that are most pertinent for this discussion. They are, (1) natural law’s innate sense of order, (2) the primacy of the common good, (3) human rights, (4) the principle of solidarity, (5) the principle of subsidiarity, and (6) the pursuit of justice.[23] It is this view of the natural order that would shape the teachings of Pope John XXIII.

It would be imprudent not to recognize the intellectual continuity of modern Catholic international thought. Therefore, it is important to discuss briefly the contributions of several modern-era popes to the natural law theory and its six main principles in international relations. By observing this continuity, it is in a sense more fitting to see John XXIII’s teaching on internationalism as a grand assemblage and culmination of the past half-century’s writings on the topic, than a radical new wave of intellectualism. Seventy years before the election of Roncalli as pontiff, Pope Leo XIII taught in an encyclical on human liberty, that human laws for the promotion of liberty are to be guided by and framed through the natural law.[24] Even before this, Pope Leo XIII had spoken on the importance of the principle of the common good in governmental structures, believing that this end would be established to serve both the community and the individual.[25] This theme would become central to both Maritain’s work and John XXIII’s. Pope Leo XIII’s sociopolitical teaching reached its zenith in Rerum Novarum, an encyclical that would collectively become a keystone influence of how the Catholic Church addressed the issues of internationalism. While written primarily to speak towards the concerns of labor and capital in a burgeoning industrial society, the writer touches upon another of the six primary principles of natural law concerning internationalism, solidarity. Solidarity, the cooperation between connected human entities to resolve social evils as such, while not yet named, is implied throughout the document’s pages.[26] Additionally, Leo XIII discusses by name the principle of natural rights which are inherently residual in the individual.[27] By careful observation of this early modern pope, the evolution of modern Catholicism’s enunciation of human rights, the common good, and the natural law’s primacy is revealed.

During the papacies of both Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) and Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), the six principles of natural law theory towards internationalism become more solidified in both generalities, due to the former’s work, and through some of the latter’s practical policy advisements. Both men, as well as their contemporary Jacques Maritain, would present a paradigm for international order that would be utilized and articulated by Pope John XXIII. Because his reign ended in 1939 upon the dawning of the Second World War, little historical scholarship exists considering the contributions of the pontiff towards internationalism, as most tend to focus on the contributions of his successor. Nevertheless, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno takes a bold approach to diagnosing the sociopolitical ills of the era and proposing a constructivist solution. Released forty years after Rerum Novarum, the writing encapsulates the development of Thomistic political thought up until that point by giving a name to the six principles of social natural law theory. For example, while expanding the Catholic understanding of human rights, solidarity, the pursuit of the common good, the encyclical explores in more depth the role that the natural moral law has as the proper ordering of humanity towards the good, the pursuit of justice, and the principle of subsidiarity.[28] In the pages of this text, Pius XI lays out how the ancient theory of natural law could be directly related to the ills of modern society.

It would be his successor, Pius XII, that would begin to apply in detail these principles to the modern world. As philosopher D.J. O’Conner argues, while generalities of the truth of the natural law may be understood by many, its application can be specifically implemented trough particular avenues of action.[29] It was Pius XII, who particularly through many public addresses during the war, that took the next step in evolving natural law for international policies. Only three months into the war, Pius XII’s 1939 Christmas Allocution to the College of Cardinals, arguably the most solemn proclamation of the infant papacy yet so far, proposed a new kind of international order (likely in reference to the failed League of Nations) in the forthcoming postwar period to “continue undisturbed and ensure true peace…”[30] As a means to reach this end, the pope explicitly willed for an international judicial order to enforce this desire and avoid transnational misunderstandings stating, “…in order to…avoid unilateral interpretations of treaties, it is of first importance to erect some juridical institution…”[31] This international institution was not to be built upon secularism but upon the natural moral law. By doing so, Pius hoped that the postwar world would be built in fraternal charity and virtue. Consequently, during his papacy, the pontiff called for the construction of this new world order stating, “(the) reconstruction of the new social order, worthy aspiration of God and man, will instill a new and powerful impulse and a new wave of life and development in the whole flowering of human culture.”[32] It is interesting to note that many of the effects of the postwar international world order, human rights, national sovereignty, economic justice, the need for an international organization, disarmament, and freedom of conscience, were argued for and supported by Pius XII during his papacy.[33] Although not invited to participate at either the 1944 Dumbarton Oaks Conference or the San Francisco Conference in 1945, Pius XII was eager to support the international order based on natural law.

The Catholic presence during the formation of the United Nations was modest, yet powerful, to say the least. Thomistic Jacques Maritain, French Ambassador to the Holy See during part of the reign of Pius XII, would serve in the role of committee chairman during the discussions for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Maritain would vehemently argue for the natural law as the source of human rights in his committee position.[34] In this role, it is reasonable to conclude that the natural-law based ideology for the international order of Pius XII and the neo-Thomistic thought of the diplomat Jacques Maritain, was united, as a reading of their writings will suggest.[35] During the 1950s, the Vatican continued its discourse within the United Nations, while recognizing its shortcomings.[36] For the desired international order to truly become envisioned in Catholic intellectualism, Pope John XXIII’s papacy would entirely suffice.

Arguably with the possible exception of the enormous historical personality of Pope John Paul II, no pope changed the church since the Council of Trent in the 1500s more than “Good Pope John.” Pope John XXIII’s papacy was seen by many of his contemporaries as a “stop-gap” before the younger, Giovanni Montini (later Paul VI) was mature enough to lead the church. The reason for this is undoubtedly his role in calling the Second Vatican Council. His teaching towards establishing an international order was nearly equally as groundbreaking. Taking upon the intellectual tradition of centuries of natural law theory, including its six main principles, the rudimentary basis of Leo XIII and Pius XI, and the international desires of Pius XIII and neo-scholastic Jacques Maritain.[37] Pope John XXIII’s teaching on postwar international order was fundamentally predicated upon a Thomistic natural law understanding. No other writing during his papacy more encapsulates his teaching his 1963 seminal encyclical Pacem in terris. The international tone and connotations of this document are evident, as it is the first papal encyclical addressed to not only Catholics but to “All Men of Good Will.” [38] From the beginning, it is clear that his teaching and message from the Catholic (appropriately etymologically katholikos or universal in Ancient Greek) Church in the international world is a universal message. It was in short, a universal church’s message for a universal world.

This neo-Thomistic framework for international order is made relevant through Pacem for an international audience.[39] John amplifies the six main principles of natural law: the innate sense of order, the primacy of the common good, human rights, the principle of solidarity, the principle of subsidiarity, and the pursuit of justice.[40] The first principle, that of a sense of ordering inherent within nature, is defined in Pacem before all else by a thorough explanation of this in its opening lines, recognizing the divine origin of law. Natural order, John teaches is found inscribed within the hearts of men and it is from this that man’s sense of purpose can be found.[41] Later, the culminating theme of order reappears, and not surprisingly in its discussion of this international new order so desired by Pius XII.[42] As is given in the very understanding of natural law, the ethical choice between good and evil, a code of ethical morality, is fundamental. As Pius XI’s call for a renewal of public virtue in return to the natural law,[43] Pacem emphasizes that the good of the community can only be obtained by virtuous living and respect of the moral law saying: “The order which prevails in human society…its foundation is truth…it needs to be animated and perfected by men’s love for one another, and, while preserving freedom intact, it must make for an equilibrium in society which is increasingly more human in character.”[44] Here is found the quality of international living. This order, through morality and good choice, is the foundation upon which John sees the genesis of the international order hanging.

The second and third principles, related to the primacy of the common good and the protection and existence of human rights are addressed in considerable detail. Because man is by nature social, and thus a part of a whole, his good is bound to the common good of freedom, authority, and virtue of the whole. Similar to the belief held by Maritain, John sees the human rights and the common good as inextricably intertwined. Human rights, with their emphasis on individuality, and the common good with its emphasis on collectivism, are not juxtaposed but mutually compatible.[45] While the final cause of social order and its many individual parts is the common good,[46] the most efficient means of achieving this end is through the efficient cause of the protection of individual human rights. Doubtlessly influenced by Christian liberalism John explains the role of maintaining the common good through human rights: “…the common good is best safeguarded when personal rights and duties are guaranteed. The chief concern of civil authorities must, therefore, be to ensure that these rights are recognized, respected, co-ordinated, defended and promoted, and that each individual is enabled to perform his duties more easily. For “to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person, and to facilitate the performance of his duties, is the principal duty of every public authority.”[47]

While the common good is the aim, the method of reaching it is via the protection of human rights. These rights are directly tied to the natural law. They grant innate dignity to the human person as John explains, “These rights and duties derive their origin…from the natural law…”[48] By this recognition, all men of the world are entitled to the protection and respect of these rights, whether they be political, economic, or religious.[49] In a similar intellectual continuity with Maritain’s influenced UDHR,[50] Pope John seemingly sees both particular individual rights, such as the right to life, religion, and property, and communal welfare rights, such as the right to a living wage, and the right to medical services.[51] John was directly aware and perhaps influenced by the UDHR as he explicitly praised it, despite some of the shortcomings.[52] Thus, by examining the discussion of human rights as principally united to the common good, the Catholic desire for the building of the international order becomes evident.

Understanding the subsidiarity and solidarity principles are fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of Pacem. In regards to the latter, the document not only encourages active solidarity but through its discussion of it promotes global human consciousness stating, “… civil authority exists, not to confine men within the frontiers of their own nations…which certainly cannot be divorced from the common good of the entire human family.”[53] This level of global citizenship described so directly in an international context is unprecedented in papal writings. It speaks profoundly to the desire of the church to become more active in international affairs. Regarding the principle of subsidiarity, words that Pacem holds are concise yet potent. By subsidiarity, it holds that nations should be self-determined to develop at the local level.[54] Subsidiarity is a conservative balance to solidarity, as it holds that the proper level of authority to solve a sociopolitical problem should be localized.[55] Even so, Pacem implies a sort of international order that the “universal authority” ought to establish so that smaller institutions can properly exercise this principle.[56]

Finally, the pursuit of justice is fundamental to all Catholic social teaching, as peaceful order is derived only through the work of justice. This end of the role of justice is illustrated thus, “Now the order which prevails in human society is wholly incorporeal in nature…must be brought into effect by justice.” [57] There can be no order in a society founded upon the natural law without seeking that which is good, or just. While the document does not philosophize what the theological nature of justice is, it is responsible to interpret it within the Thomistic tradition of ensuring that which ought to be based on reason. Pacem applies this understanding multiple times. For example, it states the role of the state is the protection of human rights. If a state is not doing this, this is a violation of justice, and hence is “lacking binding force.”[58] It continues that transnational relations between countries are to follow suit in justice based upon a mutual understanding of their rights.[59] Justice, indeed the word or its derivatives appears over fifty times in the document is so foundational to the international teachings outlined in Pacem, that much more scholarship can be done distinguishing the separate types of justice called for in the work. Notwithstanding, what is most important to understand though is that the pursuit of justice, the sixth principle of the Catholic natural law tradition, is a predominant mark of the teaching of John XXIII.

Despite a reign on the papal throne lasting only five years, Pope John XXIII’s comprehensive collaboration of the texts of the Thomistic natural law tradition concerning the postwar international order Pacem in Terris forever altered the Catholic approach to internationalism. By responsibly developing his teaching upon the precedent of predecessors, John’s successors, and later millions of international Catholics, would become aware of these expansions in the social natural law tradition. Put candidly, John’s teaching in Pacem did not dissipate into academic oblivion but remained the foundational text for international teachings during the Second Vatican Council,[60] and the papacies of Paul VI and John Paul II. During the Second Vatican Council, one of the four major documents, Gaudium et Spes, dedicates an entire chapter to the “establishment of a community of nations,” and multiple times references Pacem directly.[61] Numerous parallels can be made that directly are linked to themes in Pacem, written only two years prior such as those regarding the nature of peace, order, and justice, the need for an international authority, and the importance of the natural law. [62] Likewise, Pope Paul VI, in his 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, gives due recognition to the social teachings of his immediate predecessor’s work and influence upon him.[63] In it, the influence of John XXIII is evident when Paul VI speaks of an international authority and the need for the preservation of solidarity.[64] Finally, written three months before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and during the centennial of the foundational international social teaching of Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus is profoundly influenced by Pacem. It is a deeply reflective work on both historical and philosophical standpoints displaying the continuing continuity of the six principles of the natural law tradition, and relating them to the current state of political affairs.[65] Incidentally, Gaudium et Spes, Populorum Progressio, and Centesimus Annus would each become immortalized into the twenty-first century teaching of the Catholic Church by being referenced and directly quoted in the current collection of the beliefs of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church.[66] This catechism is the standard of Catholic teaching across the world today. Thus, through these influences and documents, Pope John XXIII’s legacy on internationalism based upon the natural law tradition remains in the modern church and among the ideologies of the modern world.

On that October evening in 1958, when the hopeful crowd gathered in Saint Peter’s Square first gazed upon the rising white smoke, few could have envisioned the impact that the imminent papacy would have. Pope John XXIII’s short-lived papacy not only transformed and renewed the Church but on the international level, it taught what the true basis for the postwar international order ought to be. Through him, the ancient was made new, the philosophical turned practical, and a universal message brought was brought from a universal church to a universal world. Nevertheless, the tradition of Thomistic natural law theory and internationalism is not over. While John XXIII’s teaching solidified what the international order should be, its completion has not been attained. Individuals, not institutions, make the international order. Thus, for the living historical legacy of Pope John XXIII to be tangibly recalled into the present day, it is vital that all individuals “of goodwill” seek the lasting peace, justice, and order that comes from living courageous virtue in accordance with the natural law. [67] Perhaps if that noble end is pursued, the international community will indeed experience an era of true, lasting Pacem in terris.[68]

About the author

Joseph E. Esparza is a senior at California State University San Marcos (Class of 2020) where he is majoring in history with a minor in geography. He currently works as an educator teaching natural and cultural history for California State Parks. He will be attending graduate school in history where his topics of interest include American, intellectual, environmental, and modern Catholic history.

Recommended citation

Esparza, Joseph E. “‘A Universal Message’: Pope John XXIII on International Order in the Postwar World.” Armstrong Undergraduate Journal of History 10, no. 1 (April 2020).


[1] Robert John Araujo S.J., and John A. Lucal, S.J., Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace: The United Nations from Pius XII to Paul VI (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2010), 3-5, 61.

[2] Bradley R. Murno, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Maritain, and the Universality of Human Rights,” in Philosophical Theory and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights., edited by William Sweet (Ottawa, Canada: University of Ottawa Press, 2003), 110, 114-117.

[3] Harry C. Koening, ed., Principles for Peace: Selections from Papal Documents Leo XIII to Pius XII, (Washington D.C: National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1943) Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 1-6, 61, 90.

[4] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 71-75, 122 Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (The Holy See: Vatican City-State, 1991),

[5] Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris: Encyclical of Pope John XXIII On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Libery (The Holy See: Vatican City-State, 1963),

[6] Andrew Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain, Natural Law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Journal of International History 8, (2006): 245.

[7] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 249-255.

[8] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 260-262.

[9] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 262.

[10] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 3-5, 61, 90.

[11] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 61-79.

[12] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 249-255.

[13] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 249-255.

[14] D.J. O’Conner, Aquinas and the Natural Law (London, United Kingdom: Macmillan Press, 1967), 57-59.

[15] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 250.

[16] O’Conner, Aquinas and the Natural Law, 61-62.

[17] Jacques Maritain, “Natural Law,” in The Social and Political Philosophy of Jacques Maritain, ed Joseph W. Evans and Leo R. Ward (London, United Kingdom: Geoffrey Press Ltd, 1955), 48-49.

[18] Maritain, “Natural Law,” 49-50.

[19] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 257 Jacques Maritain, “The Person and the Common Good,” in The Social and Political Philosophy of Jacques Maritain, ed. Joseph W. Evans and Leo R. Ward (London, United Kingdom: Geoffrey Press Ltd, 1955), 102-105.

[20] Jacques Maritain, Christianity and Democracy and The Rights of Man and the Natural Law (San Francisco, California: Ignatius Press, original 1942, republished 1986), 94-95 Maritain, “The Person and the Common Good,” 103.

[21] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 251.

[22] Woodcock, “Jacques Maritain,” 259.

[23] Robert John Araujo, “International Law Clients: The Wisdom of Natural Law,” Fordham Urban Law Journal 28, no. 6 (2001): 1753, 1755, 1788, 1759, 1761, 1768.

[24] Pope Leo XII, “Libertas Praestantissimum: On Human Liberty (1888),” in Principles for Peace, 40.

[25] Pope Leo XII, “Immortale Dei (1885),” in Principles for Peace, 26.

[26] Araujo, “International Law Clients: The Wisdom of Natural Law,” 1759 Pope Leo XIII, “Rerum Novarum (1891),” in Principles for Peace, 52-81.

[27] Pope Leo XIII, “Rerum Novarum,” 55.

[28] Pope Pius XI, “Quadragesimo Anno (1931),” in Principles for Peace, 400, 414, 402, 410, 415-6, 423.

[29] O’Conner, Aquinas and the Natural Law, 63.

[30] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 2-6 Pope Pius XII, “In Questo Giorno Di Santa (1939),” in Principles for Peace, 636-637.

[31] Pope Pius XII, “In Questo Giorno Di Santa,” 637.

[32] Pope Pius XII, “Discourse Solennita della Pentecoste (1941),” in Principles for Peace, 727-729.

[33] The Catholic Association for International Peace, A Peace Agenda for the United Nations: A Report of the Post-War World Committee (New York: Paulist Press, 1943), 26-29.

[34] Jacques Maritain, “On the Philosophy of Human Rights (1948),” in Human Rights: Comments and Interpretations, ed. UNESCO (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949): 9-17, 72-78.

[35] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 151.

[36] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 12.

[37] N.B.: While there is no evidence that Roncalli and Maritain ever developed a close relationship, they were aware of each other and met on occasion during their work in the Vatican Diplomatic Corps. Some authors have suggested Maritain influenced Roncalli directly. This work suggests that Maritain’s reemergence of neo-Thomism and his relationship with Pius XII was the most enduring influence on Roncalli’s thought. Catherine M.A. McCauliff, “Jacques Maritain’s Embrace of Religious Pluralism and the Declaration on Religious Freedom,” Seton Hall Law Review 41 (2011): 593, 609 New York Times, “Jacques Maritain Dies at 90,”April 29 th , 1973,

[38] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Introduction.

[39] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 38.

[40] Araujo, “International Law Clients,” 1753, 1755, 1758, 1759, 1761.

[41] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 5.

[42] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 124.

[43] Pope Pius XI, “Quadragesimo Anno,” 410.

[44] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 37.

[45] Maritain, “The Person and the Common Good,” 102-105 M.C.A., McCauliff, “Cognition and Consensus in the Natural Law Tradition and in Neuroscience: Jacques Maritain and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Villanova Law Review 54, no. 435 (2009): 14.

[46] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraphs 60, 70, 84.

[47] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 60.

[48] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 28.

[49] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 26, 18, and 14.

[50] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

[51] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraphs 11, 15, 20, 21.

[52] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraphs 143, 144.

[53] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraphs 98-99.

[54] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraphs 92, 140-141.

[55] Araujo, “International Law Clients,” 1761.

[56] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 141.

[57] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 37.

[58] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 61.

[59] Pope John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” Paragraph 91-93.

[60] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 71-75.

[61] Second Vatican Council, “Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965),” in Vatican Council II: Volume I The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P (Northport, New York: Costello Publishing Company, 2004), 986-1001.

[62] Second Vatican Council, “Gaudium et Spes,” 986, 993-4, 996.

[63] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 122-124.

[64] Araujo and Lucal, Papal Diplomacy and the Quest for Peace, 123.

[65] Pope John Paul II, “Centesimus Annus,” Paragraphs 6, 7, 10, 15, 17, 47.

[66] Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) (Vatican City: Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 2010), 726, 731-734.

School History


For over 150 years, St. John XXIII as the culmination of three legacy schools, has been the center of a Catholic education for the greater Middletown community. Growing alongside this All-American city, St. John XXIII has come to symbolize the traditions and positive success that comes from a dedicated and hard-working community. Our school is the beneficiary of decades of dedicated educators, clergy and parish supporters who have contributed to the robust history and strong foundation of St. John XXIII.

The Legacy Schools

St. John XXIII was created in 1972 as a combined entity to serve all students in the area who were attending the local Catholics Schools of Holy Trinity, St. John’s and St. Mary’s. The history of those preceding schools dates back to 1867, when organized classes were held inside the Holy Trinity church run by Father Boulger and the Sisters of Charity for over 20 years. The cornerstone of the new school was laid in 1891 and finally in 1901, the Holy Trinity Commercial School was established by Father Buckley and Sister Higgins.

St. John School

In 1880, at the request of Father Leitner of St. John’s Church, the Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg came to open St. John’s School to serve its growing parish community. In 1908, a new school building was built and in addition to the grade school subjects, a Commercial Course was offered and an increasing number of high school subjects were added , so that three years of high school were offered. The teaching staff was increased to eight sisters.

St. Mary's School

On September 2, 1952, St. Mary’s School opened a single story building operated by the Sisters of St. Francis. On September 8, 1959, construction of the second floor was ready for occupancy. In September, 1967, four new classrooms and two basement rooms were added to the building. In 1973, this building became the East Campus of St. John XXIII, housing grades K-4.

St. John XXIII Today

New Campus and New Preschool

History, Pathogenesis, and Management of Familial Gastric Cancer: Original Study of John XXIII's Family

3 Medical Faculty of the University of Porto, st. John Hospital Center and Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), rua dr. Roberto Frias 4200-465 Porto, Portugal


Background. Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer is associated with the E-cadherin germline mutations, but genetic determinants have not been identified for familial intestinal gastric carcinoma. The guidelines for hereditary diffuse gastric cancer are clearly established however, there are no defined recommendations for the management of familial intestinal gastric carcinoma. Methods. In this study we describe Pope John XXIII's pedigree that harboured gastric cancer as well as six other family members. Family history was analysed according to the International Gastric Cancer Linkage Consortium criteria, and gastric tumours were classified in accord with the last Japanese guidelines. Results. Seven out of 109 members in this pedigree harboured gastric cancer, affecting two consecutive generations. John XXIII's clinical tumour (cTN) was classified as cT4bN3a (IV stage). In two other cases, gastric carcinomas were classified as intestinal histotype and staged as pT1bN0 and pT2N2, respectively. Conclusions. Pope John XXIII's family presents a strong aggregation for gastric cancer affecting almost seven members it spreads through two consecutive generations. In absence of defined genetic causes and considering the increased risk of gastric cancer’s development in these families, as well as the high mortality rates and advanced stages, we propose an intensive surveillance protocol for asymptomatic members.

1. Introduction

About 80–90% of gastric carcinomas develop in a sporadic setting, the remaining 10% to 20% show familial cluster, and approximately only 1–3% have a clear inherited genetic conditioning [1–4]. In literature there are many reports of familial gastric cancer (FGC) with no evidence of cancer in other organs, encompassing both hereditary forms and GC clustering in families without determinant genetic susceptibility for the disease [1, 5–7].

E-cadherin gene (CDH1) mutations were identified as the causal event underlying the hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) syndrome [8]. The guidelines for the management of the HDGC familial members were established by the International Gastric Cancer Linkage Consortium (IGCLC) in 1999 [2] and updated in 2010 [3]. TP53 or mismatch repair gene (MMR) germline mutations account, respectively, for Li-Fraumeni and Lynch syndromes and, in these settings, gastric carcinoma, may develop in association with neoplastic diseases in other organs [4, 9–11].

Though the guidelines for families’ management with HDGC are clearly established [3], there are no specific recommendations for families’ management with other FGC’s types, namely, familial intestinal gastric cancer (FIGC).

Herein we report Pope John XXIII’s pedigree, displaying a clear excess of family members harbouring GC, with intestinal histotype and without cancer evidence in other organs. Furthermore, we suggest a surveillance and management for living kindred, to minimize the cancer risk in this family.

2. Methods

2.1. Familial History

Data on the family history were collected by direct interview of living members and consulting historical documents, obtained from John XXIII’s personal archives. Briefly, the closest relatives were asked to report the total number of relatives in John XXIII’s family (Pope John identified the proband), their ages, and their living status and the members harbouring gastric tumour, age at onset of disease, death date, and cancers in other organs. Familial aggregation was investigated with particular reference to the IGCLC criteria [2, 3]. In particular, for FIGC definition, we considered these criteria: (a) at least three relatives should have intestinal GC and one of them should be a first degree relative of the other two (b) at least two successive generations should be affected (c) in one of the relatives, GC should be diagnosed before the age of 50 [2].

2.2. Clinicopathological Data

Clinicopathological information were available for three members affected by primary gastric carcinoma, as illustrated in Figure 1(a) (cases IV-15, V-31, and V-32). For these cases, information about diagnosis, surgical procedure, histopathological examination, and survival were available. Regarding the proband (John XXIII), clinicopathological information were collected by consulting historical documents obtained from John XXIII’s museum (Ca’ Maitino museum, Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, Bergamo, Italy).

(b) (a) Schematic pedigree of John XXIII’s family with seven cases affected by primary gastric carcinoma (generations IV and V). Clinicopathological information were available for cases marked with underline numbers (b) Roncalli’s original pedigree, firstly described in 1968. The bold characters indicated members affected by primary gastric tumours the proband was indicated with the papal shield.

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects included in this study and approved by hospital’s ethics committee.

3. Results

3.1. Pedigree Analysis

Figures 1(a) and 1(b) represent the complete Roncalli family. In total, 109 members were identified, belonging to six generations. There were 66 males (60.6%) and 43 females (39.4%). Seven members were affected by gastric carcinoma two out of six consecutive generations (IV and V) were involved. One single case of sporadic bladder cancer was identified (V-29). The GC overall frequency in this family was rather high (7/109), also considering that only two generations (IV and V) were affected. The generation IV showed the highest frequency for GC aggregation (5/41), decreasing to two GC cases in the next generation (V). So far, the last explored generation (VI) is cancer-free. Among GC patients there were four males (57.1%) and three females (42.9%) the overall mean age at onset was 75.8 years, 78.2 for males and 72.6 years for females, respectively. The youngest and the oldest ages at onset were 65 and 87 years, respectively. GC mortality rate in this family was rather high, with six of seven patients having died from causes related to tumour metastasis.

3.2. The Clinical History of John XXIII (Case IV-15)

Pope John XXIII was born in Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte (Bergamo) in Italy, on 25 November 1881. He was the fourth in a family of 13 children (Figures 1(a) and 1(b)). On August 1904 he was ordained as priest in Rome, and in 1925 Pope Pius XI named him apostolic visitator in Bulgaria, raising him to the episcopate. In 1953 he was appointed cardinal of Venice, finally at Pope Pius XII’s death, Angelo Roncalli was elected Roman Pontiff on 28, October 1958, taking the name John XXIII (Figure 2). During that time, in October 1962, John XXIII convoked the Ecumenical Vatican Council II.

Coronation day, November 1958. Pope John XXIII with pontiff vestments wearing the papal tiara and “fanon” that defines the supreme authority as Roman Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

The clinical history began in September 1962. Firstly, he complained dyspepsia, sporadic episodes of vomiting, and weight loss (about 5 kg). X-ray examination revealed a distal gastric tumour narrowing the antrum and the angulus with pylorus substenosis and wall ulceration. Main symptoms referred by the Pope are described in detail in Table 1.

The papal physician, namely archiatre, convoked three eminent Italian surgeons, that visited the Pope in the papal apartments and described a palpable mass in right hypochondrium with abdominal ascites considering the aged patient, the obesity, and other comorbidities, collegially they defined the tumour as inoperable deciding for a conservative/palliative approach. In particular, a surgeon assessed that the mortality risk for an extended gastrectomy was earnest high and whenever a radical intent was possible, the long survival’s probability was very low. The conservative treatments were routinely blood and plasma transfusions, gastric mucosa extract (Opogastrina), cyclophosphamide (Endoxan), antianemic agent (Hepavis), and procoagulant drugs.

Considering these clinical reports, we could asses that the gastric tumour staging was cT4bN2 (IV stage) with intestinal histotype, because of later age at onset and slow tumour progression. However, histopathological confirmation was not available.

Pope John XXIII died in Vatican City in the evening of June 3, 1963, from peritonitis due to gastric carcinoma perforation. John XXIII’s body was treated with chemical agents (fomaldheyde) to prevent the postmortem corruption about 5 liters of abdominal ascites were drained.

3.3. Case V-31

Male, 79 years, was admitted at Bergamo’s hospital (Italy) after incidental discovery at endoscopy of a suspicious gastric lesion the histopathological examination of biopsies diagnosed an adenocarcinoma. There was no metastasis’ evidence in other organs. The patient suffered from colon diverticular disease, abdominal aortic aneurism (treated with endovascular stent), hypertension, and prostatic hypertrophy. The patient was submitted to total gastrectomy and the pathological examination described gastric adenocarcinoma (intestinal histotype), G2 grading, with invasion of the submucosa, pT1bN0 staging. The patient is alive and well, with no evidence of local relapses or distant metastases.

3.4. Case V-32

Female, 74 years, referred vomits, nausea, diarrhoea, and body weight loss (about 15 kg). At endoscopy an infiltrative tumour was identified, causing stenosis and extending to the duodenum. The patient was submitted to subtotal gastrectomy with gastrojeiunostomy (Roux reconstruction). Due to a postoperative complication, the patient was reoperated and a total gastrectomy was performed. The pathological examination revealed gastric adenocarcinoma (intestinal histotype), G3 grading, with venous and perineural invasion. The tumour invaded the muscle layer and nodal metastases were identified in 7 out of 23 perigastric lymph nodes (pTNM stage was pT2N3a). The patient was submitted to adjuvant chemotherapy and died two years after surgery, with massive peritoneal carcinomatosis and hepatic metastases.

4. Management and Endoscopic Surveillance

4.1. Clinical Setting

A familial history as the one herein described raises several relevant issues regarding management and clinical surveillance of the asymptomatic familial members. This family fulfils the criteria for FIGC, according to the IGCLC definitions [2]. As such, this family does not qualify for the screening of E-cadherin gene (CDH1) germline mutations which should be offered to families with HDGC [3] and early onset GC (diffuse histotype) [12]. Moreover, the pedigree analysis excluded the possibility of Li-Fraumeni or Lynch syndromes, such as TP53 or MMR genes’ screening for a germline mutation that was not performed [4]. However, the familial members are at increased risk of GC development and management’s strategy and clinical surveillance is mandatory in this family in order to reduce morbidity and mortality.

4.2. Endoscopic Surveillance

Based on the guidelines recently proposed by Kluijt and collaborators [13], we developed a protocol surveillance for asymptomatic members in this novel pedigree (Figure 3). Specifically, these guidelines recommended gastroduodenoscopy at age of 40 years (or at an age 5 years younger than youngest diagnosis in a family) with Helicobacter pylori testing and eradication. Attention should be given also to diet habits, namely, in GC high incidence areas and in cases with familial aggregation, based on the available evidence that indicates that specific foods, such as high consumption of grilled red meat and meat sauce, increase the risk of familial GC development [14].

The proposed flow chart is suggested for the gastric surveillance in asymptomatic members recorded in this pedigree and in cases with familial intestinal gastric cancer. Some indications, such as the age for the first gastroendoscopy, are specific for this pedigree.

Accordingly, for the family herein reported, we recommend a multidisciplinary approach with genetic counselling (Figure 3). Taking into consideration the age at onset and gender of affected kindred, as well as the GC high frequency, we suggest a periodic endoscopic surveillance, beginning at 60 years, even in the absence of symptoms. The optimal endoscopic interval is an important parameter to define. A Japanese study analysed the association between the interval of upper gastrointestinal endoscopies and the GC stage at diagnosis in patients from a GC high prevalence and in families with GC clustering [15]. These authors verified that the risk was not increased in patients in the 2- or 3-year interval group, whereas it was increased in the 4- or 5-year interval groups. In familial cases, the authors observed that in patients with a GC familial history, the risk of a GC higher stage at diagnosis was greater in patients who had a 3-year interval between endoscopies than in those with a 1-year interval and probably higher than in those with a 2-year interval. Similarly, these authors confirmed that the age of 60 years for the first endoscopy represents a valid age cut-off, particularly in families clustering for GC with abundance of intestinal histotype [16]. Other studies confirmed the utility of yearly endoscopy as the optimal interval also in other Eastern populations [15].

Thus, we suggested for this family an endoscopic yearly periodic interval. Moreover, medical examination and detailed interviews should be performed before the endoscopic procedures. Endoscopy should be performed using a white light high definition endoscope in a dedicated session with at least 30 min allocated to allow a careful inspection of the mucosa on inflation and deflation, and to allow time for multiple biopsies to be taken. Use of mucolytics such as acetylcysteine may be helpful to obtain good views [3]. Further, chromoendoscopy constitutes also an option [17]. Besides random or geographically targeted biopsies, all suspicious lesions should be biopsied [18].

5. Discussion

In 1964, Jones cited in literature a pedigree with FGC aggregation [7], corresponding to two families collected by Paulsen in 1924 in one of these families, the father, the mother and six children harboured gastric carcinoma in the other family, the mother, and five children were affected. In 1938, Napoleon Bonaparte’s family was reported [5], in which several members were affected by assured (Napoleon and his father) or suspicious GC (the grandfather, one brother, and four sisters). In 1958, Graham and Lilienfeld [6] performed genetic studies and statistical analysis of cancer developing in mono- and dizygotic twins they found that in some specific sites, such as the stomach, if GC develops in monozygotic twin, there is an increased risk for the GC development in the other twin. In 1964, Jones identified a Maori family with a high frequency of GC in a pedigree with 98 members, 28 were affected by primary gastric carcinoma and, within a period of 30 years, over 25 subjects died from this disease [7]. GC with familial cluster, in absence of other tumours, led to the search for genetic or environmental risk factors that are associated with familial GC development’s risk. In 1998, Guilford and collaborators identified, for the first time, that E-cadherin gene (CDH1) germline mutations constitute the genetic cause of HDGC [8]. It is now known that HDGC penetrance is about >80% [3].

Several studies showed that a familial history of GC is a risk factor for the development of the disease [19–26]. Having a first-degree relative with GC is a risk factor for GC development with odds ratio (OR) varying 2 to 10 according to the geographic region and ethnicity [27]. A large study from Turkey conferred an OR 10.1 for GC patients’ siblings nevertheless the results were not adjusted for environmental factors [28]. However, when this adjustment for environmental factors was done, it did not alter the risk. Interestingly, the Lauren GC intestinal histotype was more strongly associated with the GC familial history than the diffuse histotype [18, 23, 29].

A positive family history is considered a strong risk factor for GC development. Except for HDGC, the molecular basis for the familial aggregation is largely unknown [27].

It is believed that this GC familial cluster is due to a genetic susceptibility, shared environmental or lifestyle factors, or a combination of these in different populations. Current data shows a GC increased risk for relatives of GC patients and, in the other hand, an increased prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection and premalignant lesions. There are no studies aimed to assess if the premalignant lesions of GC patient’s relatives progress more rapidly through the carcinogenic cascade to GC than premalignant lesions in matched controls of general population [30]. However, so far it was not possible to identify a specific genetic cause for FIGC [1, 29]. New families with FIGC constitute nature’s models that, in the future, may lead to the identification of genetic cause(s) and determinant environmental risk factors for this syndrome. Currently, it is recognized that patients at increased risk for GC due to ethnic background or familial history may benefit from surveillance [31]. Accordingly, GC familial history should be taken into account in the followup of precancerous conditions and lesions of the stomach. The Dutch working group on HGC has formulated guidelines for various aspects of medical management for families and individuals at high risk of GC developing, including criteria for referral, classification, diagnostics, and periodic gastric surveillance [13]. We took into consideration all these recommendations for the multidisciplinary protocol’s design and for the asymptomatic members’ surveillance of the family herein reported.

Detailed pedigrees, constructed with at least three generations, can provide important information for this purpose.

In the present study we described the GC history of Pope John XXIII and his family that was firstly recorded in 1968 (Figure 1) (Capovilla, Letters to family (1901–1962)). In this pedigree seven stomach cancer’s cases in two consecutive generations were identified. By clinical history’s evaluation and historical documents’ exploration, it was concluded that Pope John XXIII died from a perforated GC staged at least as cT4bN3a. Perforation is a rare gastric carcinoma’s complication, occurring in less than 1% of GC cases (Figure 4). In most cases, the tumour invades the serosa and displays metastatic lymph nodes in second level. The process of gastric wall perforation is sustained by infectious and ischemic factors due to the tumour neovascularisation which result in the shedding of the neoplastic tissue [32]. In this family we observed that GC appeared only in fourth and in fifth generations (XIX-XX centuries), with the highest frequency in the fourth generation. Most probably, along a time frame of about one century, this family was exposed to the same risk factors, such as environmental agents and diet habits. The putative role of genetic susceptibility and/or epigenetic changes can not be excluded.

Representative sample of perforated gastric tumour (personal archive) arrow indicates the depth perforation.

6. Conclusions

Within familial cases, FIGC is a well recognized disease though its pathogenesis has not been fully elucidated yet. The identification of families fulfilling the criteria for FIGC requires a careful surveillance for asymptomatic members in these families. In this study we report Pope John XXIII’s family, a historical family with a GC high frequency, displaying the features of intestinal carcinoma. In absence of elected genetic screening, such as searching for E-cadherin germline mutations, we proposed a pedigree-specific surveillance in asymptomatic kindred in accordance with recent guidelines. Instead, in truncating CDH1 germline mutation carriers, prophylactic total gastrectomy represents the only life saving treatment.


The authors would like to thank Mgr Loris Francesco Capovilla, bishop and official secretary, and Dr. Fabrizio Roncalli for providing information on family history and for consulting of historic documents Fr. Roberto Donadoni and Mr. Marco Roncalli for contact managing Mr. Lorenzo Garosi for technical assistance the “Istituto Toscano Tumori” for supporting this publication (“Gene expression profile and therapeutic implication in gastric cancer: from the clinical overview to the translational research”, Grant ITT-2007).

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright © 2013 Giovanni Corso et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Scion of an important merchant and banking family in Cahors, Jacques Duèze studied medicine in Montpellier and law in Paris, yet could not read a regal letter written to him in French. [4]

Duèze taught both canon and civil law at Toulouse and Cahors. On the recommendation of Charles II of Naples he was made Bishop of Fréjus in 1300. In 1309 he was appointed chancellor of Charles II, and in 1310 he was transferred to Avignon. He delivered legal opinions favorable to the suppression of the Templars, but he also defended Boniface VIII and the Bull Unam Sanctam. On 23 December 1312, Clement V made him Cardinal-Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina. [2]

The death of Pope Clement V in 1314 was followed by an interregnum of two years due to disagreements between the cardinals, who were split into two factions. After two years, Philip, in 1316, finally managed to arrange a papal conclave of twenty-three cardinals in Lyon. This conclave elected Duèze, who took the name John XXII and was crowned in Lyon. He set up his residence in Avignon rather than Rome, continuing the Avignon Papacy of his predecessor. [2]

John XXII involved himself in the politics and religious movements of many European countries in order to advance the interests of the Church. His close links with the French crown created widespread distrust of the papacy. [2]

Pope John XXII was an excellent administrator and efficient at reorganizing the Church. He had sent a letter of thanks to the Muslim ruler Uzbeg Khan, who was very tolerant of Christians and treated Christians kindly. [5]

John XXII has traditionally been credited with having composed the prayer "Anima Christi", which has become the English "Soul of Christ, sanctify me . " and the basis for the hymn Soul of Christ, Sanctify My Breast".

On 27 March 1329, John XXII condemned many writings of Meister Eckhart as heretical in his papal bull In Agro Dominico. [6]

Conflict with Louis IV Edit

Prior to John XXII's election, a contest had begun for the Holy Roman Empire's crown between Louis IV of Bavaria and Frederick I of Austria. John XXII was neutral at first, but in 1323, when Louis IV became Holy Roman Emperor, the Guelph (papal) party and the Ghibelline (imperial) party quarreled, which was partly provoked by John XXII's extreme claims of authority over the empire and partly by Louis IV's support of the spiritual Franciscans, whom John XXII condemned in the Papal bull Quorumdam exigit. [7] Louis IV was assisted in his doctrinal dispute with the papacy by Marsilius of Padua and later by the English Franciscan friar and scholar William of Ockham. Louis IV invaded Italy, entered Rome and set up Pietro Rainalducci as Antipope Nicholas V in 1328. The project was a fiasco. Guelphic predominance at Rome was later restored, and Pope John excommunicated William of Ockham. However, Louis IV had silenced the papal claims and John XXII stayed the rest of his life in Avignon.

Franciscan poverty Edit

Pope John XXII was determined to suppress what he considered to be the excesses of the Spirituals, who contended eagerly for the view that Christ and his apostles had possessed absolutely nothing, citing Pope Nicholas III's bull Exiit qui seminat in support of their view. [8] In 1317, John XXII formally condemned the group of them known as the Fraticelli. [9] On 26 March 1322, with Quia nonnunquam, he removed the ban on discussion of Exiit qui seminat [10] and commissioned experts to examine the idea of poverty based on belief that Christ and the apostles owned nothing. The experts disagreed among themselves, but the majority condemned the idea on the grounds that it would condemn the Church's right to have possessions. [9] The Franciscan chapter held in Perugia in May 1322 declared on the contrary: "To say or assert that Christ, in showing the way of perfection, and the Apostles, in following that way and setting an example to others who wished to lead the perfect life, possessed nothing either severally or in common, either by right of ownership and dominium or by personal right, we corporately and unanimously declare to be not heretical, but true and catholic." [9] By the bull Ad conditorem canonum of 8 December 1322, [11] John XXII declared it ridiculous to pretend that every scrap of food given to the friars and eaten by them belonged to the pope, refused to accept ownership over the goods of the Franciscans in future and granted them exemption from the rule that absolutely forbade ownership of anything even in common, thus forcing them to accept ownership. On 12 November 1323, he issued the bull Quum inter nonnullos, [12] which declared "erroneous and heretical" the doctrine that Christ and his apostles had no possessions whatsoever. [8] [13] [14]

Influential members of the order protested, such as the minister general Michael of Cesena, the English provincial William of Ockham, and Bonagratia of Bergamo. In 1324, Louis the Bavarian sided with the Spirituals and accused the Pope of heresy. In reply to the argument of his opponents that Nicholas III's bull Exiit qui seminat was fixed and irrevocable, John XXII issued the bull Quia quorundam on 10 November 1324, [15] in which he declared that it cannot be inferred from the words of the 1279 bull that Christ and the apostles had nothing, adding: "Indeed, it can be inferred rather that the Gospel life lived by Christ and the Apostles did not exclude some possessions in common, since living 'without property' does not require that those living thus should have nothing in common."

In 1328 Michael of Cesena was summoned to Avignon to explain the Order's intransigence in refusing the Pope's orders and its complicity with Louis of Bavaria. Michael was imprisoned in Avignon, together with Francesco d'Ascoli, Bonagratia and William of Ockham. In January of that year Louis entered Rome and had himself crowned Holy Roman Emperor. Three months later, he declared John XXII deposed and installed the Spiritual Franciscan Pietro Rainalducci as Pope Nicholas V. The Franciscan chapter that opened in Bologna on 28 May reelected Michael of Cesena, who two days before had escaped with his companions from Avignon. In August Louis the Bavarian and his pope had to flee Rome before an attack by Robert, King of Naples. Only a small part of the Franciscan Order joined the opponents of John XXII, and at a general chapter held in Paris in 1329 the majority of all the houses declared their submission to the Pope. With the bull Quia vir reprobus of 16 November 1329, [16] John XXII replied to Michael of Cesena's attacks on Ad conditorem canonum, Quum inter nonnullos, and Quia quorundam. In 1330, Antipope Nicholas V submitted, followed later by the ex-general Michael, and finally, just before the Pope's death, by Ockham. [9] John XXII died in Avignon in 1334 (aged 89/90), probably of stomach cancer. [ citation needed ]

Beatific vision controversy Edit

Pope John XXII was involved in a theological controversy concerning the beatific vision. Even before he was pope, John XXII argued that those who died in the faith did not see the presence of God until the Last Judgment. He continued this argument for a time in sermons while he was pope, although he never taught it in official documents. He eventually backed down from his position, and agreed that those who died in grace do indeed immediately enjoy the beatific vision. [17]

Despite holding for many years a view widely held to be heretical, John XXII is not considered a heretic because the doctrine he had contradicted had not been formally defined by the Church until his successor, Benedict XII, addressed it by the encyclical Benedictus Deus, [18] which formally defined this doctrine as contrary to Church teaching.

Role in witchcraft suppression Edit

Although, according to Alan C. Kors, Pope John XXII was a "brilliant organizer and administrator" and the thought of witchcraft seemed to be in its early stages at this point, Kors states the pope had a personal reason for setting out to stop witchcraft. Kors points to the fact that Pope John had been the victim of an assassination attempt via poisoning and sorcery. [19] As such, Pope John's involvement with witchcraft persecution can be officially traced to his 1326 Papal Bull Super illius specula in which he laid out a description of those who engage in witchcraft. Pope John also warned people against not only learning magic or teaching it but against the more “execrable” act of performing magic. Pope John stated that anyone who did not heed his “most charitable” warning would be excommunicated. [20] Pope John officially declared witchcraft to be heresy, and thus it could be tried under the Inquisition. Although this was the official ruling for the Church, Pope John's first order dealing with magic being tried by the Inquisition was in a letter written in 1320 by Cardinal William of Santa Sabina. [19] The letter was addressed to the Inquisitors of Carcassonne and Toulouse. In the letter Cardinal William states that with the authority of Pope John the Inquisitors there were to investigate witches by “whatever means available” as if witches were any other heretic. The letter went on to describe the actions of those who would be seen as witches and extended power to the Inquisition for the prosecution of any and all cases that fit any part of the description laid out in the letter. [21]

The Royal Succession (French: La Loi des mâles), the 1957 fourth novel in Maurice Druon's Les Rois maudits historical novel series, features Duèze's rise from cardinal to pope as one of its plotlines. His character remains present throughout the following books. He was portrayed by Henri Virlogeux in the 1972 French miniseries adaptation of the series, and by Claude Rich in the 2005 adaptation. [22]

The papacy of John XXII—the conflict with Louis of Bavaria and the condemnation of the Franciscans over the poverty of Christ—is the central backdrop of Umberto Eco's historical murder mystery The Name of the Rose, which is set in 1327.

John (XXIII)

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John (XXIII), original name Baldassare Cossa, (born, Naples—died Nov. 22, 1419, Florence), schismatic antipope from 1410 to 1415.

After receiving his doctorate of law at Bologna, Cossa entered the Curia during the Western Schism, when the papacy suffered from rival claimants (1378–1417) to the throne of St. Peter. Pope Boniface IX made him cardinal in 1402. From 1403 to 1408 he served as papal representative in Bologna. The Schism worsened with the hopeless deadlock between Pope Gregory XII and Antipope Benedict XIII in 1408 Cossa deserted Gregory. In an attempt to save the church through unity and reform, the cardinals convened the invalid Council of Pisa (1409), at which Cossa was a leading figure. The council failed in its objectives, declared both Gregory and Benedict deposed, and elected a third rival, Antipope Alexander V. At the death of Alexander, in May 1410, he was succeeded on May 25 by Cossa as John XXIII.

Meanwhile, King Ladislas of Naples—whom Pope Innocent VII had named “defender” of the church—was occupying Rome and protecting Gregory. Ladislas’ rival was Louis II of Anjou, pretender to Naples, who joined forces with John and entered Rome in April 1411. Although Ladislas was defeated on May 19, he soon reorganized his army and forced Louis to withdraw. John then abandoned Louis and in 1412 negotiated with Ladislas in exchange for Ladislas’ repudiation of Gregory, John granted Ladislas large sums of money and territorial concessions. In May/June 1413, however, Ladislas proved disloyal by sacking Rome and expelling John, who fled to Florence, where the German king Sigismund (later Holy Roman emperor) was working for a general council to end the Schism. Sigismund induced John to call the Council of Constance. Interpreting the negotiation between Sigismund and John as a threat to his position in Italy, Ladislas pursued the Pope—who was then en route to Constance while Sigismund was returning to his German kingdom—but died on Aug. 6, 1414.

The Council of Constance opened on Nov. 5, 1414. Although the majority of the council’s members acknowledged the Council of Pisa and its candidate, John, political rivalries soon arose the Italians endorsed John, but eventually the Germans, English, and French asked for the abdication of John, Gregory, and Benedict, thus ridding the Holy See of all three rival pontiffs. At first, John refused to abdicate, but on March 2, 1415, he agreed to resign if his rivals would do the same. Yet on March 20/21 he fled from Constance disguised as a layman, hoping to deprive the council of its authority and to cause its disintegration. Enraged by his desertion, the council pronounced itself supreme, ordered John’s arrest and deposed him on May 29, 1415, received Gregory’s resignation, condemned Benedict, elected Pope Martin V, and thus restored church unity. John was returned to Constance, where, despite his acceptance of Martin’s election, he remained Sigismund’s prisoner. In 1418 he was released for a heavy ransom. Martin made John cardinal-bishop of Tusculum in 1419, but John died a few months later.

Watch the video: Pope John XXIII Tribute - 1963. Today in History. 3 June 16 (January 2022).

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