Spirituality for Today – April 2011 – Volume 15, Issue 9

The 56th Pope
John II

An image of Pope John II Pope John II the 56th Pope

Pope John II (533-535)
The atmosphere leading up the election of Pope John II had all the makings of the worst aspects of the American political process: corruption, intrigue, bribery, and misappropriation of funds. The King of Italy stepped in to stop the turmoil and outlawed such practices in papal elections. One can wonder if the king held to those standards regarding the workings of the imperial court.

The compromise candidate was a priest of considerable age named, interestingly, Mercury. After his election, he chose the name John (the first pope not to use his own name) because he believed calling himself after a pagan god would be inappropriate. The pope enjoyed good relations with both the imperial houses of Rome and of Constantinople. The new King of Italy was the Ostrogoth, Athalaric and in Constantinople the Emperor Justinian I reigned.

Pope John gave his affirmation to an imperial decree of some years before in favor of the teachings of the earlier councils of the Church. He also accepted the Theopaschite formula which stated that in Christ one of the Trinity "suffered in the flesh." This teaching refuted the heresy of Nestorianism which held that Jesus was two persons, one human and one divine. The followers of the Monophysite heresy which believed that Jesus was in nature only divine were more quiescent regarding this formula. In his correspondences with the emperor, Pope John confirmed the orthodoxy of the decree.

At this point, it might be of interest to note the renowned Code of Justinian in which the Apostolic See is recognized as "the head of all the Churches."

On the occasion of his death, it was arranged that Pope John was to be buried in the portico of Saint Peter's basilica.

Habemus papam