June 7, 1963

‘A Cause to Mourn’

Religious, civic leaders extoll Pope John’s work

Front cover of the June 7, 1963 issue of The Criterion“No one in our time has exerted a greater influence for good than Pope John XXIII,” Archbishop [Paul] Schulte said in a statement issued upon the death of the Supreme Pontiff.

Below is the text of the Archbishop’s statement along with reactions from other civic and religious leaders in the Indianapolis area. (Related: See our 1963 special section honoring the life of Pope John XXIII -- 10MB, PDF format)

Archbishop Schulte:

We feel that we are voicing the sentiment of five hundred million Catholics throughout the whole world when we say that in the death of Pope John XXIII, we have lost one of the greatest spiritual leaders that has ever graced the long line of Pontiffs.

Although his pontificate was relatively short, he has had a tremendous impact upon the modern world. His guidance and pronouncements have been a source of assurance, and at times a great joy to light our way in these days so filled with doubt and confusion. Every Catholic will feel the impact of his death, and although saddened by his demise, will in a spirit of resignation to God’s Holy Will, thank God for having given him to us during the past five years.

The world at large has occasion to mourn his passing for no one in our time has exerted a greater influence for good than Pope John XXIII. Even non-Catholics have been deeply impressed by his ever gracious and kindly reception and his deep appreciation of their common problems.

Through the Ecumenical Council, which he has convoked, he has started a movement of reapproachment of people of all faiths which cannot but continue throughout the years to come. Indeed, the whole world has cause to mourn the death of Pope John XXIII.

Bishop Richard C. Raines, head of the Indiana Area of the Methodist Church:

The passing of Pope John is an untimely and tragic loss to all Christendom. Despite his brief reign as pontiff, he will live in history as a vigorous proponent of church unity and world peace. Men of all faiths have come to respect his integrity, spirit of conciliation and corn for the well-being of all men.

We can only hope that his successor will follow the path Pope John has pioneered and carry on the noble works he has so courageously begun.

Father Joseph M. Shaheen, pastor of St. George Syrian Orthodox Church:

The cause of Christian Unity has lost its greatest servant with the passing of Pope John XXIII. In his few short years as pontiff he has done more to strengthen the bonds of Eastern and Western Christendom than any one single man. He has enlightened the world of Christians to the proposition of unity. No expression can fully reflect the hopes the Eastern Orthodox Church had placed on the works of Pope John or how sad we feel at the knowledge that has was not able to complete this great task.

The Rt. Rev. John P. Craine, Bishop of the Indianapolis Episcopal diocese:

All Episcopalians are grateful to God for the humble and great-hearted Pope John XXIII, who served as an example and inspiration to all men of good will. He gave new hope for the common Christian cause and his concern for the rights of all men brought Christian leadership to a new high.

Rabbi Nandor Fruchter, Congregration of Bnai Torah:

The death of Pope John XXIII is an irreplaceable loss to the whole world. His deep love for mankind, his profound sense of justice, and his untiring efforts for world peace were unparalleled and ranked him among the great leaders of the world of all times. His friendship to the Jewish people will be always remembered. I saw him in 1959 and his face reflected pure kindness and love, which left an indelible mark on me. It caused me to utter a special prayer for the heath of this saintly man in our Synagogue on Memorial Day.

Governor Matthew E. Welsh:

Hoosiers of all faiths join with Roman Catholics throughout the world in mourning the death of Pope John. His service to peace, to humanity, and to his Faith have earned him the respect and admiration of men of good will everywhere. The world has lost a great religious leader.

Mayor Albert Losche:

The entire world mourns the loss of Pope John XXIII whose love and benevolence was for all peoples. We citizens of Indianapolis share in the sorrow and grief of all his followers in this tragic loss.


Related feature: Editorial -- "The Pope"

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