Earlier in the journal, Congar describes the vocal opposition to Pope John XXIII on the part of traditionalist Catholics - the intégristes -
There are some who cynically argue that Francis' popularity is merely a consequence of the 'liberal media' trying to conform him to their own image. This doesn't ring true to me. Although some of my traditionalist friends will disagree, I think many people see something very genuine about Pope Francis; they see in him someone with whom they can truly relate. I was and remain a supporter of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and while there were facets of his papacy I found problematic, I think he was largely misunderstood by the left in the church. But there was also an academic and hierarchical distance to him that simply doesn't exist with Francis.
Nor, judging from Congar's assessment, did it exist with Pope John XXIII:
In the last suffering and death of John XXIII, the Church and even the world have been through an extraordinary experience. All at once, one became aware of the immense impact this humble and good man has had. It has become clear that he has profoundly altered the religious map and even the human map of the world, simply by being what he was. He did not operate by great expositions of ideas, but by gestures and a certain personal style. He did not speak in the name of the system, of its legitimacy, of its authority, but simply in the name of the intuitions and the movement of a heart which, on the one hand, was obedient to God and on the other loved all people, or rather he did both these things in a single action, and in such a way that, once again, the divine law has proved true: God alone is great; true greatness consists in being docile in the service of God in himself and in his loving plan. God raises up the humble. Blessed are the meek for they shall possess the land. Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God. Everyone had the feeling that, in John XXIII, they had lost a father, a personal friend, someone who was thinking of and loving each one of them.
Even the incredible Roman ceremonial, those endless shows, were unable to wipe out the deep impression, the sorrow and the intimate heartfelt affection. However, what a contradiction between the courtly pomp and that utterly simple man whose funeral was the occasion of it! The working people followed his last suffering and death as though he were the father of their own family. 'For once we had a good one...' A sort of extraordinary unanimity had come about (304).