"E is a short stocky man with a delightful smile H and obviously very friendly with everyone ". This was the description of Pope John as given by Mgr. Derek Worlock, secretary to Archbishop Godfrey of Westminster, in a television interview last week.
Mgr. Worlock, who accompanied Archbishop Godfrey to Rome. and who sat not far from the then Cardinal Patriarch of Venice at the funeral for the late Pope Pius XII. added that Pope John XXIII "is clearly a most distinguished prelate and a polished diplomat. an experienced prelate backed by a diplomatic training and with a loving care of children".
The title of " diplomat and father perhaps aptly describes the very human little stories about the new Pope that have been circulating over the past week.
Although the Vatican City newspaper. Osservatore Romano, has warned against irresponsible speculation as to what the new Holy Father is likely to do and to say, and has denied "leaks" concerning the conclave which have appeared in one Italian newspaper, the stories with the "human touch" merely serve to emphasise what Fr. Tucek of the NCWC News Service found in Venice this week—that the former Patriarch is "a man with the common touch."
He is known personally to the shopkeepers of Venice, to the drivers of motor launches and gondolas; he is known to the children, to the old and to those in hospital.
He is robust in health: is a frugal eater; he uses a typewriter but prefers to write with a fountain pen. The Pope has now moved into the apartments in the third floor of the Vatican Palace. He has the same bedroom as Pope Pius XII !with its two windows looking out on to St. Peter's Square. Next to it is his study and nearby the Papal Chapel overlooking inside Vatican
City. John likes to walk and, al though it has been said that he spoke of walking in the City of Rome itself. this is considered
The Osservatore Romano has asked the world's press to "come back from the orbit of fantasy and speculation". It cautioned against mistaking the Pope's wish to travel to Lourdes and to Venice as a definite plan and criticised "uncontrolled" reports on planned innovations or appointments. The Osservatore, which itself came out with a special edition only 45 mingles after the name of the new Pope was announced. has also been asked by His Holiness not to use some of its more flowery embellishments when referring to him. In a private audience, the editor, Count Darla Torre, was told "Do not say 'lofty, inspired. enlightened' when you write about me. Just say The Pope did. the Pope said'."
Me Holy Father has, lost no time in meeting those who work in and around Vatican City.
Over the week-end he paid a surprise visit to the Vatican Radio Station. When an operator told the Pope that he came from Venice, the Pope threw up his arms and lamented, "Oh let us not talk of Venice. We will never forget it."
The Pope then chatted in turn to each of the radio announcers about their particular part of the world— to one he spoke about Germany. to another about Spain recalling some soup that a certain Jesuit had insisted on preparing for him there. "He may have been a good cook," said the Holy Father laughing. "but I know that for two days after I felt ill."
Signor Stoppa, driver for the late Holy Father and now 65 years old offered his resignation to Pope John. He felt he was perhaps too old to carry on, besides the new Pope was reported to have a chauffeur. But his resignation was not accepted—"You are not too old for Vatican traffic," said the Pope and asked the chauffeur to drive him round the gardens.
On his way to the Radio Station the Pope had stopped to talk to the gardeners. He asked where were the vines that St. Pius X had planted. The gardeners showed him where they had been but they had been removed many years ago.
After chatting with the gardeners. the Pope took a glass of wine with the carpenters and joiners who were working on preparations for the coronation.
To one workman he is said to have remarked, "I think we belong to the same party." "Your Holiness, I haven't joined any political party," said the man.
The Pope laughed. "One does not have to join to belong to the party of fat men," he said.
Mgr. Capovilla. until last week private secretary to the Cardinal Patriarch. and now appointed private chamberlain to His Holiness, returned to Venice a few days ago to collect the new Pope's personal belongings and to wind up affairs which had been left pending before travelling to the conclave.
Venice newspapers reported that when the then Patriarch left he said to friends at the station, "Don't worry. You will see me again. You are not being rid of me so quickly."
When St. Pius X went to Rome to partake in the conclave that elected him, he bought a return ticket. Thinking that someday he might use the return half, the Venetians kept his rooms. exactly how he left them,
They remained that way until Cardinal Roncalli came along and saved them from complete ruin by extensive renovations.
The Venetians are again hoping that their Patriarch, now Pope John XXIII will visit them—and use his "return-half".