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Card. Siri's Speech Praising John XXIII

In an attempt to help readers understand the flaws of some traditionalists who imagine Card. Giuseppe Siri, Archbishop of Genoa, was elected Pope instead of John XXIII, we post here the text of the speech the Prelate delivered at a thanksgiving ceremony for the election of John XXIII. This ceremony took place in Genoa in 1958, 10 days after the papal election. After reading this speech it seems impossible to pretend that Card. Siri, supposedly Gregory XVII, was unwillingly deprived of the papacy by an imaginary usurper, John XXIII.

We reproduce first our English translation of Card. Siri's speech, and below it a photocopy of the Italian text of the original speech posted on the Cardinal Siri website, maintained by a group of Genovese scholars who published a book on their late Archbishop. We put in boldface the more compromising parts.

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Speech at the thanksgiving service for the election of John XXIII (1958)

"This speech was delivered by Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, Archbishop of Genoa, on November 1, 1958, at the end of the religious service celebrated in his Cathedral of St. Lorenzo recognizing the elevation of John XXIII to the Papacy .

On All Saints Day, a grand and serene sight enlightens the souls of all believers: It is the spectacle of those who throughout time have obtained the Redemption of Christ - either the Christ who will come or the Christ who came - and who now live and reign with Him for all centuries in eternal glory.

There [in Heaven] they reestablish the true and lasting human family, the family of God, without needs, quarrels, defeats and wars. They, the Saints, both the canonized and uncanonized, are at the same time intensely united with us and present to us. As we consider this, the dear and pleasant memories of those we have loved and known return to us, those who preceded us in life and labor make up part of the assembly of Saints. In them shines what on earth death seems to have terminated; they exult over what our human misery each day tries to vilify.

On this luminous and serene day linked to our lives, families and hopes, I have called you together to thank God for the election of our Holy Father John XXIII. The great paternity of God is, since the eve of October 20, represented by this Pope. In him we reencounter our Holy Father, whose visible image was extinguished after the holy death of Pius XII. In him [John XXIII] all men who have sovereigns, chiefs and leaders but do not have a Father, ... recognize - in different ways and degrees - the same general lines and reasons for trust.

Let us thank God because we have a Pope again.

To have a Pope is not a miracle since this is part of the ordained constitution of the Church as established by Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, intense cause for gratitude remains. In each man that is raised to the Throne of Peter, we see again the providential hand of God over History. The Vicar of Christ is always a messenger of the grace and peace that comes from God Himself.

I, who speak to you, participated in the election of the Pope, and as a part of it I experienced the way God - leaving all men free - enters into events of this kind that truly and solemnly mark History. It is impossible for me to say what I felt when, hearing the voice of the Cardinal charged with counting the ballots resounding in the silence of the Sistine Chapel, I learned that the election of the Pope had been achieved. The Gospel and the order of Redemption move in human History revealing its final goals by means of a concrete and visible, social and juridical fact [the election of the Pope], established by the Church. The destiny of secondary points of History are included in the general plan of eternal Providence with a permanent reference to the Gospel and Redemption. These considerations are useful to evaluate what it is to have a Pope, the Head of the Church, and to understand what a change the election of a Pope makes in History.

We have to thank God for the choice He made. Anyone who knew the Patriarch of Venice and has followed the first, brief hours of this pontificate has already became aware of his great and lucid firmness without vacillations, brimming with a simple, cordial, expansive and appealing humanity. This makes one believe that in the aura of this temperament, peace, an invitation to understanding and a cordiality in treatment of others acquire a providential function in the world, a world that lacks reciprocal esteem and an open, confident smile. Everything leads one to think that this type of a man and government gives us, concretely and effectively, a direction and a social norm that are meant offer a better life and encouragement to countless people, not only Europeans, but also and above all, to non-Europeans, who were left far behind at the banquet of earthly goods caused by the greed of egoism. Everything leads one to expect that a new warmth will be disseminated to make relations between Catholics and our separated brethren smoother.

A new dawn has risen and it is singularly promising. Praised be to God !

As we thank God, logic reminds us of the duty that binds us to the Vicar of Christ. It demands affection, reverence and obedience. These are conditions to receive divine favor, because no one can presume divine favor if he does not welcome the one whom Jesus Christ has chosen, in the form and measure determined by Him. At this moment we must clearly understand that we cannot ever separate Jesus Christ from His representative, the visible head of the Church in the world. The gesture of Christ choosing His Vicar always requires that fidelity, clarity, sincerity and reverence that is owed to him.

Among the different ephemeral standards that the world loves to make, let us know how to lucidly discern and evaluate what comes from the passions and vileness, egoism and ignorance, and distinguish it from what comes from the sacrifice of the Calvary and the infinite amiability of God, from a guaranteed teaching and a revealed truth. Let us choose from History the best it has given and what failure never destroyed. Let us treasure the sincere and manifest gesture of a father [the Pope], which calls for any contrary suggestions to be suspended.

May God protect our Holy Father and give us the grace to be faithful to the integrity of our Faith and to His logic, being consistent to the end.

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Posted on January 14, 2012

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