Modern Day Saints

Pope Paul VI 1963-1978

September 26, 1897 - August 6, 1987

 

Pope Paul VI was born Giovanni Battista Montini in the village of Concesio, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy in 1897. His father Giorgio Montini was a lawyer, journalist, director of the Catholic Action and member of the Italian Parliament. His mother was Giudetta Alghisi, from a family of rural nobility. He had two brothers.

He attended Cesare Arici, a school run by the Jesuits, and in 1916 he entered the seminary to become a Roman Catholic priest. He was ordained a priest on 29 May 1920 and later attained the position of Cardinal Montini in 1958.

When Pope John XXIII announced a new Ecumenical Council, Cardinal Montini reacted with disbelief and said to Giulio Bevilacqua: "This old boy does not know what a hornets nest he is stirring up. Pope John XXlll died before completing the Second Vatican Council. As a Cardinal, Montini journeyed to Africa (1962), where he visited Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, Congo, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Nigeria. In fifteen other trips he visited Brazil and the USA (1960), including New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore

Upon his election to the papacy, Montini took the pontifical name Paul VI (the first to take the name "Paul" since 1605) to indicate a renewed worldwide mission to spread the message of Christ, following the example of Apostle St. Paul. He reigned as Pope from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978.

 

Second Vatican Council

He re-convened the Second Vatican Council, which was automatically closed with the death of John XXIII, and gave it priority and direction. After the council had concluded its work, Paul VI took charge of the interpretation and implementation of its mandates, often walking a thin line between the conflicting expectations of various groups within Catholicism. Unfortunately, many bishops implemented unwanted changes to the Mass “In the spirit of Vatican ll.”

 

Humane Vitae

His positions on birth control, promulgated most famously in the 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae, and other political issues, were often controversial, especially in Western Europe and North America.

Mainly because of Humanae Vitae’s prohibition of all forms of artificial contraception, the encyclical has been controversial. The Encyclical’s teachings encountered open dissent voiced widely and publicly by several bishops, cardinals and theologians. The Encyclical was criticized by development organizations who claim that it limits the methods available to fight world-wide population growth and struggle against AIDS. Some American, Canadian, Dutch and German bishops instead claimed and stressed that Catholics’ individual consciences should prevail in such a personal and private issue as family planning.

Controversial as it was, Humanae Vitae is today regarded as prophetic. Its predictions about the effects of contraception on society are seen today as accurate. First, according to Pope Paul VI, artificial methods of birth control opens the way of lowering of moral standards for the young as well as leads to marital infidelity. Second, the use of contraception will lead to the lowering of respect for women; husbands will regard their wives as mere instruments to serve their own desires. Thirdly, the use of artificial methods of contraception, Pope Paul VI warned, will be a dangerous tool in the hands of government or public authorities who care little about the moral law, and who may force the use of contraceptives on everyone.

Failure to observe Humanae Vita has led to divorce, euthanasia, abortion, same sex marriage, laws which are anti-life, anti-family; and they disunite rather than unite couples. What Pope Paul VI said is true and what he laid down is right.

 

Marian Devotion

Paul VI was a Marian devotee, speaking repeatedly to Marian congresses and Mariological meetings, visiting Marian shrines and issuing three Marian encyclicals. He named Mary as the Mother of the Church during the Second Vatican Council. Paul VI sought dialogue with the world, with other Christians, other religions and atheists. He saw himself as a humble servant for a suffering humanity and demanded significant changes of the rich in North America and Europe in favor of the poor in the Third World.

 

Champion of the Rosary

            Pope Paul Vl had always extolled praying the rosary as an especially beneficial pious practice. He emphasized the need to contemplate the mysteries of the rosary and to pray the family rosary. Many theologians wanted him to revise the prayer of the rosary and break from the tradition of the rosary’s origin through St. Dominic. To his credit the pope remained very strongly opposed to any changes.

 

Beatification

Pope Benedict XVI declared that the late pontiff lived a life of heroic virtue and conferred the title of Venerable upon him. Pope Francis beatified him on 19 October 2014 after the recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession. His liturgical feast is celebrated on the date of his birth on 26 September.

Interestingly, the miracle attributed to Pope Paul Vl began with an occurrence in 1970 when on a trip to the Philippines he was stabbed in the chest by a man who purchased a dagger in a Muslim thrift shop. The blood on his vestment was never removed until after his death when a nun used it as a relic to assist a pregnant woman who had been told to abort her child. She was told the child had a permanent brain defect. The woman asked for the intersession of Pope Pius Vl and the child was born quite normal.        Jim Fritz

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