I do not really feel that I "know" Pope John XXIII in the same way that I "know" John Paul II. I do have Meriol Trevor's life of John XXIII on my bookshelves, so I have some wherewithal to correct that.
As I have asked myself this morning what particular thoughts I feel that I take away from the ministry of Pope John Paul II, three things have come to mind. They are intensely personal, and do not represent any systematic appreciation of Pope John Paul.
The third thought is a short passage tucked away in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint, n.84. It occurs to me quite regularly. It goes neatly with the emphasis on the reality of the imperfect communion that exists as a result of baptism that I recall noticing in Pope Benedict's address to leaders of other Christian communities during his visit to Cologne in 2005. It indicates that, in martyrdom, there exists already in reality that unity among Christians of different denominations that is the aim of ecumenical endeavour. My emphasis added in bold:
In a theocentric vision, we Christians already have a common Martyrology. This also includes the martyrs of our own century, more numerous than one might think, and it shows how, at a profound level, God preserves communion among the baptized in the supreme demand of faith, manifested in the sacrifice of life itself. The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met. I have already remarked, and with deep joy, how an imperfect but real communion is preserved and is growing at many levels of ecclesial life. I now add that this communion is already perfect in what we all consider the highest point of the life of grace, martyria unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ who shed his Blood, and by that sacrifice brings near those who once were far off (cf. Eph 2:13).
While for all Christian communities the martyrs are the proof of the power of grace, they are not the only ones to bear witness to that power. Albeit in an invisible way, the communion between our Communities, even if still incomplete, is truly and solidly grounded in the full communion of the Saints—those who, at the end of a life faithful to grace, are in communion with Christ in glory. These Saints come from all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities which gave them entrance into the communion of salvation.It is interesting that, though we are now into the second papal ministry since the death of Pope John Paul II, all three of these themes have retained their resonance through changing political and social circumstances.