It is no secret, and Neocatholics readily admit, that Angelo Cardinal Roncalli was chosen to be the successor of Pope Pius XII in order to be a "transitional" Pope. If I remember correctly, I believe I read that even during the conclave, the secular press was using this term, "transitional Pope," to refer to the de facto label of the next Pope. The "transitional" Pope was to be an aged cardinal who would not live very long and therefore not lead a very eventful pontificate. After the relatively long (19-year) reign of Pius XII, a short reign would be a welcome change.
This is what we usually hear. But I was reflecting on this notion of a "transitional pontificate" for a while, and I must admit, it makes absolutely no sense to me.
Think about it. Given the mission of each and every Pope - namely, guarding and teaching the Faith, ruling the Church, and sanctifying the faithful - just where is there space for a "transitional" Pope? Pius XII's reign was long. So what? Why do we need "a break" after a long reign? After St. Peter, the two longest reigns in the history of the Church came right one after another - that of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) and that of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903). There was no need or call for a "transition" in between, as though you were attending a concert and needed an "intermission" in between lengthy presentations.
The papacy is not a show. It is not a presentation. It needs no intermission or interlude. It needs no break. On the contrary.
So, what is it with the "transitional" papacy after Papa Pacelli? Why the talk of a "transitional" Pope needed after Pius XII? A transition to what??
I can only think of one thing. From the beginning, the eyes were on Giovanni Battista Montini, the archbishop of Milan. The problem was that Pius XII had deliberately refused to make Montini a cardinal in order to prevent him from being elected Pope. While it is not necessary that a prospective Pope be a cardinal - or even a cleric - this was an age-old tradition that the electors did not wish to break, or at least not without arousing suspicion. Interestingly enough, the American Weekly issue of March 17, 1957, featured a section on the potential successors to Pius XII, and "their choice" was none other than Archbishop Montini (see p. 21 of that issue). But Montini was practically unelectable since he was not yet a cardinal.
What to do? A "transitional" Pope had to be elected! A Pope whose main purpose of being Pope was to make Montini a cardinal so he could be elected. Interestingly enough, Roncalli had barely presented himself to the world as Pope John XXIII, when he made Montini a cardinal! It was only a matter of about 6 weeks, between October 28 and December 15, 1958.
Thus, John XXIII's major purpose had been fulfilled. Montini was a cardinal and therefore could become his successor, something, they say, was also John XXIII's own wish. And of course, so it happened. John XXIII died in 1963, and after him there emerged Montini as Paul VI - and the rest is history!
But John XXIII surely also had another function. He needed to call the council. And this he did, in less than 3 months. On January 25, 1959, John XXIII announced to the world that he would call an ecumenical council to be held in 1962 or 1963. Of course, Montini could have done it himself, but with John XXIII doing it, it was even better. This way, the world would see the council as the work of two Popes, not just one - this makes for a much better legacy.
So the plan went very well. In fact, I don't think it could have gone any better for them, as John XXIII also came to be very popular in the secular world. "Good Pope John," he was widely called. Yes, the world called him "good." What significance could this have? I am reminded of St. Luke 6:26: "Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets." When the secular world calls you "good," there is indeed reason to be suspicious.
John XXIII was quick to dismiss what he called the "prophets of doom," but these "prophets of doom" were really none other than the pre-Vatican II Popes, the Fatima and La Salette seers, and the Blessed Mother herself. The "optimism" of John XXIII was so unreasonable that he was either totally out of touch with reality, or the incarnation of spiritual immaturity and imprudence, or downright evil. I see no other possibility. According to John's own testimony, the idea of the council was put in his mind by "divine inspiration" while walking through the Vatican gardens. If this is indeed true (which I doubt), then, as Ursula Oxfort writes in her book The Heresy of Pope John XXIII, John was scandalously ignorant about the rules of the discernment of spirits.
In any case, the late 50's and early 60's were perhaps the climax of the Cold War, and no one who was realistically looking at things could possibly say that there was a glorious future in the air. A nuclear war between the USSR and the USA would have almost broken out during the Cuban missile crisis.
At that time, communism was in full swing, and communism is not simply an imprudent position or an unfortunate line of thought, but truly satanic. In 1962, just months before Vatican II opened, there was the abominable "Pact of Metz" in France, in which Cardinal Tisserant, on the order of John XXIII, made a deal with the East that communism would not be condemned at the council. You can read all about The Pact of Metz.
John XXIII's stated aim that Vatican II should ensure that Catholic doctrine should be "more faithfully taught" in itself raises some eyebrows. Was he implying that before his council, this was not the case? I see no other conclusion. But what better way to wreak havoc on the Church than by convening a council with only a vague and ambiguous purpose! Imagine 2,500 bishops sitting in St. Peter's and wondering, "Why are we here?"
I think that John XXIII fulfilled his role as "transitional Pope" perfectly. He made Montini a papabile before the world, and he started the avalanche of Vatican II and aggiornamento [Italian, "updating"], a concept itself already suspicious of heresy. Consider the stern warning from Pope Leo XIII:
"It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions of the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization, and many other things of the same kind" (1/27/1902; Instruction of the Sacred Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs).
Likewise, Pope Pius IX condemned the erroneous idea that "The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilization" (Error #80, Syllabus of Errors, 1864).
This is my theory regarding the meaning of the "transitional pontificate" of John XXIII.
Here we are now, almost 45 years after the death of Pius XII and the start of the revolution. God only knows how long this revolution will last before it finally comes to its well-deserved irrevocable demolition, and God only knows how long John Paul II will still be alive and who will be his successor. As for me, my guess is it will be either Cardinal Lustiger or Cardinal Kasper. While that would be tragic, it might be the best thing to totally expose the apostasy and the illegitimacy of the Vatican II popes.
I wish to recommend to everyone that you read John Vennari's booklet "The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita," available from www.tanbooks.com or online as a transcript of a talk Vennari gave on the same topic:Talk on the Alta Vendita
The quotes and facts presented therein are scary, but the truth needs to be made known, even if it's a scary truth, and probably especially then.
May Christ be blest and may He preserve us from further destruction. May He miraculously intervene and send all of Christendom a holy Roman Pontiff who will restore His Mystical Bride.