There are many things in the life of John XXIII that raise suspicions. The young priest Angelo Roncalli had an open admiration for the Italian modernist Bonaiuti that did not seem to diminish with time. As Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice, he was known for his indirect political support for the socialists.
After he was chosen Pope, his actions continued to raise questions, such as, for example, his tacit abolition of Catholic militancy with his famous saying: "Communism is an enemy of the Church, but the Church does not have enemies." And there was his implicit doing away with the condemnation of heresies and the errors of paganism with the installation of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. Further, there was his tacit acceptance of the errors of the Nouvelle Théologie with his invitation to theologians previously condemned by Pope Pius XII to serve as periti at Vatican II. The list is long. The readers who would like more details or documents can read footnote 14 of the Introduction in the book Animus Delendi I by the same writer who signs this column.
It did not come as a surprise to me that John Paul II should "beatify" John XXIII. Since all the items that regulated beatifications and canonizations were eliminated in the new Code of Canon Law, everything now seems left to the arbitrary personal discretion of the Pontiff. And this has not shown itself to be as rigorous as the prior requirements. More or less everywhere he is beatifying whomsoever he desires. The following axiom seems to apply well to him on the matter: "Potuit, voluit, ergo fecit" - "He was able to do it, he wanted to do it, therefore he did it."
What did surprise me was to hear that the body of John XXIII was found incorrupt. While I know that the incorruptibility of the body of a person is not an unequivocal sign of sanctity, it would nonetheless be a strong sign. I am firmly convinced that Angelo Roncalli was not a saint either before or after his ascension to the Pontificate. Thus my surprise and my perplexity, when I received the news of the incorrupt body. "Would there be a natural cause? Or could there be something preternatural?" I didn't have elements to respond, and in my perplexity I calmly awaited an answer.
The answer reached me about 15 days ago, when I was catching up on my reading. I came upon an important report that I will summarize below. The report was published in the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana (n. 22, 2001) and I base myself on the information given in the French bulletin La Contre-Réforme Catholique (n. 8, August 2001).
John XXIII had chosen Professor Valdoni as his personal doctor, and the latter was assisted by Professor Mazzoni. These two doctors had heard about the discovery of a young colleague, Dr. Gennaro Goglia, assistant Professor at the Institute of Anatomy of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. Goglia had discovered a system to keep cadavers incorrupt.
The two doctors of the Pope contacted the young scientist, and when the cancer of the stomach reduced John XXIII to his final stage, they asked Goglia to be ready to apply his invention on the Pope after his death. The two doctors had already spoken with John XXIII on the matter, and the latter had given them a written document leaving them in charge of preserving his mortal remains.
Therefore, as soon as he died on the evening of June 3, 1963, Goglia was contacted and brought to the Vatican. In the Papal quarters, he set up next to the cadaver a tripod that held a plastic bottle containing ten liters of his liquid preservative. He then began the process of injecting this liquid with a tube and needle into the body of John XXIII. It was a long procedure, crowned with success. Those present during the proceedings in addition to Goglia were Professor Mazzoni and two valets of John XXIII, the Gusso brothers.
Dr. Goglia provided these details to Famiglia Cristiana in the interview. Until then, the whole operation had been kept rigorously secret.
I would like to let the reader read for himself the end of the testimony of the doctor, who today is age 78. Here are his words:
"We put the bottle containing the liquid on the tripod. We made a small cut in the right wrist and inserted the needle there. I was afraid that the blood would exit through the tube or that the liquid could cause the skin to rupture…. At 5 a.m. on June 4 the operation ended. The liquid had reached all the capillaries, blocking the process of decomposition. We then injected some liters of the liquid into the Pope's stomach, destroyed by cancer, in order to kill the bacteria there."
Here is the explanation. The incorrupt body of John XXIII is due to a scientific achievement, not to a miracle that would confirm the sanctity of Angelo Roncalli. If the fact of a body remaining incorrupt would itself reveal sanctity, then the Pharaohs of Egypt that were mummified should be considered saints.
Why did John XXIII gave permission for this experiment to be carried out upon his mortal remains? Was he aware that his "incorrupt" body could be used to "prove" his sanctity? Did he forbid the doctors to reveal the "secret"? If this were the case, then, we would have had a procedure one could hardly call holy, but rather the opposite. Instead of proving the sanctity of the man, his "incorrupt" body would prove his eagerness to fool Catholics and be considered as such by means of a trick. A corrupt "incorruption."
Then there is the whole inter-religious dialogue scenario begun by John XXIII, spread by Paul VI and emphasized so vigorously by John Paul II. In fact, the final document of the Synod of Bishops "Message to the People of God" issued October 26, 2001 ended with these poetic words: "Finally, we turn to you, Jerusalem, city where God is revealed in History: We pray for your well-being! May all the children of Abraham meet once again in you with genuine respect for one another's rights. May you remain, for all the peoples of the earth, an everlasting symbol of hope and peace" (Origins, November 8, 2001).
Are these words mere poetry? Are they another simple appeal for peace between Palestinians and Jews? Or do they also allude to the frustrated desire of John Paul II to unify the three religions that proceed from Abraham - Catholic, Muslim and Jewish? The reader will perhaps recall that the Pope traveled to Mount Sinai on February 26, 2000 to try to unite the three religions in a symbolic and spectacular gesture. No one responded to his appeal, and the event was reduced to a banal visit to the Greek-Schismatic St. Catherine monastery at the foot of the Sinai. Now, it seems that the Bishops are returning again to the same point with a vague allusion to a council in Jerusalem that would bring together the monotheist religions: "May all the children of Abraham meet again in you with genuine respect for one another's rights."
Catering to the Moors has been one of this Pope's main causes. Hassan al Tourabi is an important Muslim religious. His face is one of the most frequently seen of the Muslims at the inter-religious meetings promoted by the Vatican. One might call him a Muslim liberal. The magazine Actualité des Religions (November 2001) published a summary of the life of Osama bin Laden in the Arab world. In the early '90s, because of his "fundamentalist" behavior bin Laden lost his citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Who do you think received the head of Mohammedan terrorism? None other than Hassan al Tourabi! Osama bin Laden found refuge in the Sudan with the religious, whom bin Laden in some ways regarded as his mentor.
The magazine mentioned other facts about Tourabi in passing. He is considered the principal thinker of Islamism and the one who tried to realize the federation of the Arabic peoples. He shares with John Paul II the "desire for a universal religious rebirth," but Tourabi understands this as an "awakening of Islam." The thinker is clear on the matter, he is referring to "the return of the example of the Prophet [Mohammed] himself."
One can only wonder on the value of Vatican reports about its inter-religious meetings when one of its principal participants has this kind of relationship with bin Laden and makes statements like these with respect to Mohammedanism. Could he be a sincere participant in the inter-religious dialogue?