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Romans Speculate on Pope John XXIII’s Successor

June 3, 1963 - Amid the drama of Pope John XXIII’s final hours, Romans speculated whether his successor would be an Italian or a “foreigner.” At the same time, ecclesiastics and laymen debated whether the next Pontiff would show the conciliatory, progressive attitude of Pope John or lead the Roman Catholic Church back to a more conservative position. An Italian prince of the church, Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini (pictured last month), 65-year-old Archbishop of Milan, was widely mentioned as the leading candidate. Cardinal Montini is regarded as a prominent representative of the “progressive” wing of the world episcopacy, which revealed its strength with the manifest encouragement of Pope John during the first session of the Ecumenical Council in the Vatican last autumn. As monsignor, the present Cardinal Montini was for many years a close aide to the late Pope Pius XII, Pope John’s predecessor, in the Vatican Secretariat of State. The slim, ascetic-looking churchman, who is credited with a prodigious capacity for hard work, became Archbishop of Milan in 1954.


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