On the evening of June 3, 1963, John XXIII passed into eternity with his family, doctors and household staff present in the papal apartments where he had lived for four and a half years. The Vatican press office issued this terse statement: “He suffers no more.”
Guest Voices: 50 years after Vatican II, should Pope John XXIII be a saint?
Immediately, there was a movement by some close to the deceased pope to have him canonized by acclamation, as saints had been during the early centuries of the church. The first session of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) had ended in December 1962, and the pope had published his landmark encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) in April 1963.
He was beloved by people throughout the world who understood the historic significance of his brief pontificate and of his council project.
It was reported at the time that Belgian Cardinal Leo Suenens, who was close to John XXIII and a leading voice in the council, favored a quick move to proclaim him a saint, eschewing the lengthy processes that could sap the energy and enthusiasm from the cause. Suenens said people needed new and contemporary figures as models of sanctity to inspire them in their spiritual lives. [more]