When Popes get angry.

I found this on Spirit Daily which doesn’t link here nearly often enough

This is an article entitled

Bl. John Paul’s former personal secretary, Stanislaw Card. Dziwisz, now Archbishop of Krakow, spoke of two times the late Pope got angry.

He also revealed the two occasions he saw John Paul II “really angry,” but with “good reason.”

“In Agrigento, [Sicily], he raised his voice against the mafia, and we were all a little scared,” he said.

“And the other occasion was during the Angelus, before the Iraq War, when he said with force: no to war, war doesn’t resolve anything. I have seen war. I know what war is.”

Off the top of my head I can think of a couple more occasions.

One was when he publicly reprimanded a priest in Nicaragua, even shaking his finger at him, for being disobedient.

Another time was during a trip to his native Poland after the fall of Communism.  Poland was sliding towards materialism and not using well their newly-won freedom and the Pope really let them have it.

There is a third time that I heard about but cannot verify.  I was told by a source that when the clerical sexual abuse crisis blew up in the USA, and various prelates were summoned to a meeting, the Pope hollered at people, speaking among other things of “betrayal”.  But that is a rumor.

I have known some pretty cool-headed icy-veined prelates in my time.  And I have seen them in their rare moments of anger.  Far more than the habitually choleric, the habitually placid leave a real impression when they are riled.

Imagine what Our Lord was like in the moment he saw the sacrilegious market activities in the Temple.  He would never have gone out of control in anger, of course.  But I suspect that He left His closest disciples rather small and very quiet.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. THREEHEARTS says:

    The one where he was really enraged was in Manitoba when the Canadian Bishops told him they would take Humanae Vitae to their people and then decide if it was Church Doctrine. The Manitoba Manifesto was born. He was so angry that he was shouting in temper

  2. Alan Aversa says:

    God bless these clerics who are angry and hateful of sin yet charitable to the sinner.

    @THREEHEARTS: I had never heard about the Manitoba Manifesto before. I had heard about the Winnipeg Statement, but that was under Pope Paul VI.

  3. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Father, I think you meant John Paul’s reprimand of Ernesto Cardenal, the priest and Minister of Culture in the Sandinista government, during his visit to Nicaragua in 1983: [RIGHT!]


    Unless there is another scene similar to this with an El Salvadorean Jesuit.

  4. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Incidentally, during that Nicaragua trip John Paul showed visible anger on another occasion. During his homily at a Mass in Managua, Sandinistas in the crowd started to interrupt him with shouts. Three times he yelled “Silencio!” at them.

  5. Maltese says:

    “But I suspect that He left His closest disciples rather small and very quiet.” LOL! No doubt!

    But on a serious note, the icyest prelates I’ve known are those liberal ones, who literally fly-off the handle when their petty peeves, their little liberal policies aren’t followed.

  6. bruno says:

    “I had never heard about the Manitoba Manifesto before. I had heard about the Winnipeg Statement, but that was under Pope Paul VI.”

    In either case, we could do with some renewed shouting.


  7. ContraMundum says:

    One of my very favorite stories about the apparition of a saint is that of St. Peter to St. Lawrence of Canterbury, in which Peter proceeded to whip the archbishop for planning to abandon his see. The whelps were visible the next day, and they contributed to the conversion of King Eadbald of Kent.

  8. AnAmericanMother says:

    Beware the wrath of a patient man.

  9. BaedaBenedictus is right. It was Fr Ernesto Cardenal, in Nicaragua. And he was never a Jesuit.

  10. johnmc162 says:

    There is one passage from sacred scripture which says our Lord looked around at the phaisees
    with anger. This was after He said to them in the synagogue “is it lawful to save life rather than destroy it? But they remained silent. This can be found in the Gospel of St. Mark 3:4-5.
    Interesting this gospel passage is usually read around January 22.

  11. irishgirl says:

    ContraMundum-I think you mean ‘welts’, not ‘whelps’. ‘Whelps’ are nursing animals like lion cubs and puppies-‘Judah is a lion’s whelp’ comes to mind. ‘Welts’ are cuts on the skin, like from a whip or a club, which is what St. Peter did to St. Laurence of Canterbury in this case.
    I remember the first time I saw the future John Paul II. It was in 1976, at the Eucharistic Congress in Philly. Everything at the Mass in the old Veterans’ Stadium was in Polish, so I couldn’t understand much-but I do recall the loud and clear voice of Cardinal Wojtyla when he preached the sermon!
    In the book, ‘Pope John Paul II’, by Raymond Flynn, the former US Ambassador to the Holy See, he recalls a Mass he attended on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul when the Holy Father showed anger in his sermon-I think it had to do with the 1994 Cairo Conference. He[ the Pope, that is] was so angry that on going out at the end of the Mass, he didn’t even stop to greet anyone; he just looked straight ahead as he went by.

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    We had an assistant football coach who screamed all the time while our head coach was almost always quiet. We mostly ignored the assistant, while keeping a healthy respect. But when the head coach yelled, all of us on the team payed attention.

    (Please pray for him, he has 7 or 8 kids, was raised Catholic and his wife divorced him a few years ago. Since then his life has gone downhill.)

  13. JulieC says:

    While we’re on the subject of angry pontiffs, it’s worth noting that Pope Benedict, like his predecessor, had harsh words re: the war in Iraq:

    “Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence,” the pope told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square at the end of his Palm Sunday Mass in 2008. “Enough with the hatred in Iraq!”

  14. mcdawson says:

    I think the words, “hatred” and “violence”, are much broader than war. While certainly the pontiff’s view of war is manifest, it is myopic to attribute this statement as merely pertaining to the Iraq war. For example, Muslim treatment of women (and Christians) in that country is nothing if not hateful – regardless of US involvement.
    (see, e.g., widespread FGM .)

  15. Dan says:

    I don’t know if I would use the word “anger” to describe Bl. John Paul’s attitude regarding the Mafia/Iraq/Poland incidents…Of course, I wasn’t there, but it seems like he was just doing his job…acting as any concerned Father would. Maybe the late pope was flexing that “muscular Catholicism” that one recent article attributed to him- I’m sure people he got people’s attention!

  16. JulieC says:

    “He sent a cardinal to Washington, [D.C], and another to Baghdad, to say: do not seek to resolve these problems with war. And he was right. The war is still ongoing and it hasn’t resolved anything.”

    Just as an aside, I find it interesting that the sentence above which concluded Cardinal Dziwisz’ comments in the original article cited by Fr. Z didn’t make the cut in his post. [Because it didn’t have anything to do with the point of the entry I wanted to make, which is about otherwise calm men getting angry. I will now edit out the rest of your comment and then delete some comments that go down the rabbit hole opened here about the “Catholic Left” (which has nothing to do with this entry).

  17. Tom Ryan says:

    I’ve personally seen Cardinal Ratzinger shake his finger at people. Has he ever done it as Pope Benedict?

  18. ContraMundum says:

    @Irishgirl — You’re right. Fortunately, I don’t often have cause to use the word “welt”, though the German word “Welt” does come up from time to time.

  19. Far more than the habitually choleric, the habitually placid leave a real impression when they are riled.

    Fr. Z, you couldn’t be more correct!

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