Paul VI is the very essence of Modernism!
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meeting Catholics from Pope Paul VI’s home diocese, Brescia, Pope Francis said his predecessor’s witness “nourishes within us the flame of love for Christ, love for the church and the drive to proclaim the Gospel to the people of today with mercy, patience, courage and joy.”
Pope Francis will hold Pope Paul’s witness up to a wider audience Oct. 19 when he beatifies him during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.
With Pope Paul’s beatification approaching, the 50th anniversary of the publication of his first encyclical letter, “Ecclesiam Suam,” and the 36th anniversary of his death Aug. 6, 1978, became the occasion for multiple reflections on his life and legacy in the Vatican media.
“Although he was not always understood, Paul VI will remain the pope who loved the modern world, admired its cultural and scientific wealth and worked so that it would open its heart to Christ, the redeemer of mankind,” wrote Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.
The Italian cardinal, a former papal diplomat like Pope Paul, said that while St. John XXIII is remembered for having convoked the Second Vatican Council and presiding over its first session, it was Pope Paul who was the “real helmsman of the council,” presiding over the last three of its four sessions and guiding its implementation.
Both Cardinal Re and Pope Francis repeatedly refer to Pope Paul as a man sensitive to the problems and anxieties of modern men and women, a sensitivity Cardinal Re said led the pope “to seek dialogue with everyone, never closing the doors to an encounter. For Paul VI, dialogue was an expression of the evangelical spirit that tries to draw close to each person, that tries to understand each person and tries to make itself understood by each person.”
“Ecclesiam Suam” laid out the vision for his papacy, looking at ways the church could and should continue God’s action of setting out to encounter humanity and bring people to the fullness of truth and salvation.
“How vital it is for the world, and how greatly desired by the Catholic Church, that the two should meet together, and get to know and love one another,” he wrote.
But in the turbulent 1960s, it was not that easy. A 1977 biography of the pope by NC News Service — the former name of Catholic News Service — said, “He described himself as an ‘apostle of peace,’ but Pope Paul VI knew scarcely a peaceful day” as head of the church. “Called to the papacy in 1963 to succeed the universally popular Pope John XXIII, Giovanni Battista Montini faced a church and a world experiencing a period of self-criticism and upheaval. His years as pope were most notably marked by the Second Vatican Council — its hopes, reforms and crises.”
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul’s June 21, 1963, election, Pope Francis told pilgrims from Brescia that the late pope “experienced to the full the church’s travail after the Second Vatican Council: the lights, the hopes, the tensions. He loved the church and expended himself for her, holding nothing back.”
A reserved and reflective man who was trained as a church diplomat and spent most of his priestly life in the Vatican, Pope Paul’s papacy was marked by public and often bitter debates over changing sexual morality, the validity of the church’s traditional teaching and the changes in its liturgy called for by Vatican II.
The Mass most Latin-rite Catholics celebrate today often is referred to as the Paul VI Mass. Under his leadership there was a complete revision of liturgical texts, something he said was a source of joy, but it also was a source of some of his deepest anguish. In the last years of his pontificate, he repeatedly repudiated both those who made further, unauthorized changes to the Mass and those who completely rejected the council’s liturgical reforms.
Pope Paul’s connection with the themes expected to be raised at the synod on the family Oct. 5-19 include the encyclical for which is he is most known by many people, “Humanae Vitae.” The 1968 encyclical, usually described as a document affirming the church’s prohibition against artificial contraception, places that conclusion in the context of Catholic teaching on the beauty and purpose of marriage, married love and procreation.
In his day — before the globetrotting Pope John Paul II was elected — Pope Paul was known as the “pilgrim pope.” He was the first pope in the modern area to travel abroad, visiting six continents in seven years.
His travels and his meetings with bishops from around the world led him to speak out forcefully against the nuclear arms race, the starvation of millions of people while the rich got richer, a worldwide move toward liberalized abortion and the wars in Vietnam, Israel and Lebanon, not to mention terrorism and guerrilla warfare in many other countries.
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