Tomorrow: 30th Anniversary of death of Paul VI

A reader sent this interesting e-mail:

Wednesday will be the 30th anniversary of Paul VI’s death.  I was about to begin my senior year in high school when he died & had been a Catholic for two years.  His passing made a deep impression on me.

This obituary appeared in Time magazine a week later.

I am sure it was written by Wilton Wynn – who after his retirement as Time’s Rome correspondent joined the Church.  I still remember the astonishment I felt at reading these lines in an atheist newsmagazine (and indeed most of the rest of the obit. is predictable 1970s boilerplate).

Yet Humanae vitae was not a stubborn, willful decision. It was the work of a pastor deeply concerned by the erosion of moral values. Throughout his life, Paul was an ascetic—a dedicated worker who pushed his frail body regularly through a schedule that lasted from 6 in the morning until midnight, with little more than his meals and a siesta to break the day. Abstinent himself, he worried much and cautioned often about society’s move away from traditional family patterns and its increasing self-indulgence. He warned that the rise of militant feminism risked "either masculinizing or depersonalizing women" and condemned "the most cunning aggression of conscience through pornography."

Paul VI was preceded & followed by two popes who were much more widely loved – indeed one might argue, more lovable.  But he was the Vicar of Christ, the father of Christendom, in difficult & turbulent times.  We might all offer a prayer for him tomorrow.

I am reminded of the fascinating medalion struck by Pope Paul in the 11th year of his pontificate, 1973.

Keep in mind that Pope Paul was rather interested in modern art.

Keep in mind also, that these medals usually show the Pope in profile on one side, and on the other some classic images associated with the Apostle Peter, such as Peter kneeling before Christ to receive the keys, or Peter in the boat with his net making the miraculous catch.

When a Pope dies, a bag with all the medals from his pontificate are placed in the tomb with him, an ancient way of identifying the body and the years he was pope.

The front of this 1973 medal depicts Pope Paul in an unclassic pose.

But it was the reverse of the medal that the truly fascinating image is found.

You can see, no doubt himself, depicted as a naked man on the back of a wildly bucking horse. 

The bas relief’s multple layers of multiple legs, tails and heads of the horse portray the thrashing movement.

The man’s arms are outstretched and you can make out that he is being supported by angels, held on the back of the horse.

Here is the article my sender, above, linked.

You might read it and then go back to the images of the medals… then say a prayer for Paul VI:

Time Magazine
Monday, Aug. 14, 1978
A Lonely Apostle Named Paul

As Pope he inherited a revolution, then wrestled with it in spiritual anguish

Vicar of Jesus Christ, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, [a title Pope Benedict has dropped] Bishop of Rome and Servant of the Servants of God—these are among the many titles that impose unique burdens on the Pope, the anointed spiritual leader of 683 million Roman Catholics, [that number has really changed!]  the world’s largest body of Christians. Few of the 261 successors to St. Peter worked at that responsibility more tirelessly than Giovanni Battista Montini, Pope Paul VI.  Sunday night, after suffering a heart attack while hearing Mass [I embrace the use of these old descriptions of "reading" and "hearing" Mass] in bed at Castel Gandolfo, Paul, 80, died, laying down the burden.

He had assumed the Papal Tiara in 1963, in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, that theater for the most profound process of change that the church had experienced in centuries. At the time, Cardinal Montini seemed just the man to steer the church through the turbulence that confronted it.  Idealistic and sensitive, a thoughtful scholar and a connoisseur of theology, he had a reputation for being open to new ideas. He was a subtle diplomat with an acute knowledge of the inner workings of the church’s machinery.

But the shy, intense new Pope labored in the shadow of his jovial, grandfatherly predecessor, Pope John XXIII. It was John’s revolution that he inherited, with John’s open, hopeful stamp of approval upon it.

In the years that followed, the movement that John called aggiornamento, or modernization, became part of a revolution larger than John had foreseen—a tumultuous moral and social upheaval around the world.

Both inside and outside the church, old values were questioned, traditional authority challenged.

Paul became a study in anguish—wanting reform but fearing the consequences of too much too fast, trying to please progressives while placating conservatives.

He said yes to more changes than any Pope since the 16th century Council of Trent: a thoroughgoing revision of liturgy, a streamlining of the Curia, an unprecedented rapprochement with other faiths.

But his no could be emphatic and crucial: no to any genuine sharing of power with his fellow bishops, no to married priests, no to the ordination of women, and no—a still-reverberating no—to artificial birth control. The late Jesuit Theologian John Courtney Murray accurately predicted the tone of Paul’s pontificate in the early years of his reign. "From a cerebral point of view," said Murray in 1965, "he is a convinced progressive. But when he starts to reflect on the duties of his office he begins to get qualms. If cracks in the ice begin to appear, he fears, who knows where they will end?"

Giovanni Battista Montini was born in 1897 in the country village of Concesio, near Brescia, in northern Italy. His father, Giorgio Montini, was a newspaper editor and an early champion of the Popular Party (a forerunner of the Christian Democrats) who served three terms in the Chamber of Deputies. Young Giambattista, second of Giorgio’s three sons, was so frail and sickly that he had to get much of his education—including some of his seminary training—at home. But he learned quickly: in 1920, not yet 23, he was ordained a priest in Brescia Cathedral. Dispatched to Rome for graduate work, he became a Minutante—document writer in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. He also served as a Chaplain to students at the University of Rome, among whom he fought the tide of Mussolini’s Fascism, and his work with them won him the title of Monsignor in 1925.  [Or perhaps he was made Monsignor after five years of work in the Secretariat of State.]

While the young Montini studied the works of Catholic liberals, he also listened to one of the Church’s last great autocrats—his superior in the Secretariat of State, Eugenic Cardinal Pacelli. In 1939 Pacelli became Pope Pius XII. Monsignor Montini, as a Substitute Secretary of State, was soon embroiled in the delicate Vatican maneuvering between the enemy forces of World War II. It was Montini, evidence suggests, who coined the famous phrase that Pope Pius uttered on the eve of that conflict: "Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war."

After the war the relationship between the two men became strained. Pius again promoted Montini in 1952, making him a Pro-Secretary of State,* but the Pope and his protege were drifting apart politically. Pius was so hostile to Communism that he sometimes trembled when he spoke of it; Montini, on the other hand, was sensitive to the social and economic distress of postwar Italy and elsewhere, and more understanding of those who were driven to radical solutions. When Pius named Montini Archbishop of Milan in 1954 but failed to give him the Cardinal’s red hat that normally went with the see, some Vatican insiders viewed the promotion as an exile.

The new archbishop nevertheless moved into Italy’s economic capital with the eagerness of a new priest assigned to his first parish. To combat the influence of the Communists, he said Mass in factories, mines, jails and workers’ homes. He commissioned priests to conduct street-corner crusades.

He built scores of new churches in the working-class suburbs that ring the city. Pope John XXIII named Montini a Cardinal in 1958, and Montini reportedly had a hand in John’s keynote address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which encouraged the church "ever to look to the present, to new conditions and new forms of life."

Pope John had written in his diary that he wanted Montini to be his successor. When John died in 1963, the College of Cardinals agreed. They elected him on the fifth ballot. The day after his election, Paul announced on television that the Vatican Council would continue, and he guided it through three more sessions. His interventions were rare but usually decisive. During the fourth session, in 1965, when the critical document on religious liberty seemed threatened by a filibuster of Conservative Prelates, Paul forced a vote. The declaration passed overwhelmingly, 1,997 to 224, affirming to the world that the Catholic Church respected the rights of conscience of other believers[The document on religious liberty is one of the most highly and harshly debated documents of the Council.]

By then Paul had already begun to translate that principle into action. In January 1964 he journeyed to Jerusalem to meet and embrace Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I,on the Holy City’s Mount of Olives. The next year the spiritual leaders of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy withdrew the mutual anathemas that their predecessors had hurled at each other a full millennium before. Later Paul established an international commission of Roman Catholic theologians to discuss differences of creed with Anglican colleagues, and approved a similar commission with Lutherans in the U.S.  [And now Pope Benedict, working on that foundation, and in his project to strengthen Catholic identity, is sending strong signals to the Anglicans that they are turning into something like Methodists, and he is drawing the Orthodox closer and closer.]

Both groups achieved a remarkable consensus on such issues as the nature of the ministry and the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist—key doctrines that divided Christianity in Reformation days. The two Protestant groups went so far as to concede a rationale for some kind of limited papacy.  [And we have seen, for them, what it has meant to lack the Petrine ministry.]

Paul could act with surprising calm in sweeping away the disciplines of centuries. In 1966 he decreed an end to the traditional obligation of abstaining from meat on Fridays. [He didn’t do that, exactly.  There is still an obligation to do penance on Friday, but it is now far more vauge.  What he did was a great mistake, IMO.] He abolished the notorious Index of Forbidden Books, which had once included the works of John Locke, Victor Hugo and Voltaire. In theological controversy, excommunication and charges of heresy gave way to milder methods. Even Swiss Theologian Hans Küng’s celebrated critique of papal infallibility was handled gently: Küng was simply warned not to teach such opinions in the future, but did not have to recant them.  [And he is still shooting off his sef-appionted infallible mouth.]

Despite Paul’s reforms, he saw the church being weakened by the dramatic departure of thousands of priests from the ministry; he called the exodus his "crown of thorns." Many of the priests left in order to marry, but Paul firmly resisted the suggestion that the centuries-old tradition of priestly celibacy be made optional. He extolled the celibate life as "the precious divine gift of perfect continence." Still, he left the door open for a successor to move further. He permitted the ordination of married deacons, who could exercise many ministerial functions, and he conceded the possibility of ordaining married men in mission countries.

Sometimes Paul raised expectations, or at least allowed them to grow, then disappointed those who hoped for change
. In the spirit of Vatican II’s declaration on collegiality (the sharing of authority), Paul established a synod of bishops that would meet regularly to advise him. Five times during his reign, churchmen from round the world convened in Rome to discuss such issues as clerical celibacy and evangelism. But the Pope controlled the agenda (he vetoed a discussion of the family in 1974, presumably because it would raise such questions as birth control and divorce), and he insisted on having the final say on the language of any published synod documents.

To some, his reform of the rusty machinery of the Curia was similarly disappointing. He internationalized the once overwhelmingly Italian bureaucracy, but only very gradually was real power transferred from Italian hands. The internationalization of the College of Cardinals was far more dramatic. The conclave that elected Paul in 1963 numbered 29 Italians out of the 80 Cardinals present. After his last consistory in 1977, there were only 36 Italians out of 137 Cardinals.

Paul’s internationalization of church leadership was at least partly a result of his own travels. From the start, he took his chosen name seriously and became, like his evangelical namesake, "an apostle on the move." He was the first Pope in modern times to leave Europe, traveling more than 70,000 miles outside Italy and visiting every continent but Antarctica. In 1965 he flew to the U.S. to address the U.N. and to plead, in a memorably hoarse and earnest voice, "Never again war. War never again."  [Think of how these items prefigured John Paul II.]

Paul was at his best on these trips, smiling often and enjoying particularly the unconventional displays of piety [Does that not sound like the way the press today talk about Pope Benedict?] that greeted him in the Third World. In Western Samoa in 1970, he stood before an outdoor altar in the blazing sun while eight sarong-draped men came forward, bearing on their shoulders an immense 400-Ib. pig, a traditional Samoan gift. In Uganda he was delighted by a platoon of blue-haltered, red-skirted dancing girls who met the papal jet in Kampala. More somberly, especially in his Third World visits, Paul made a point of seeking out the poorest neighborhoods.

In India in 1964, he wept at the poverty he saw.

Throughout his pontificate a procession of world leaders visited the Vatican, including some key figures from Communist countries: Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito, Rumania’s President Nicolai Ceaucescu, Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. Of all the Pope’s many diplomatic initiatives, including a long and fruitless attempt to mediate peace in VietNam and similarly frustrating efforts in Biafra, Northern Ireland and the Middle East, his Ostpolitik was the most successful. [i wonder.] His overtures to the Communist world helped to win the church such concessions as limited freedom to teach, nominations of new bishops and permission for public festivals. They also settled such ancient controversies as the 18-year isolation of Hungary’s Cardinal Mindszenty at the U.S. Legation in Budapest.

To political conservatives in the church, Paul was all too sympathetic to socialism. In Populorum progressio (On the Development of Peoples), the strongest and most moving of his seven encyclicals, he wrote in 1967 that the ownership of property "does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditional right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need when others lack necessities." The document warned prophetically that rich nations must share their wealth with poor ones or risk "the judgment of God and wrath of the poor."

Paul wrote voluminously; each year his speeches, apostolic exhortations and decrees filled more than 1,000 printed pages. But he issued only one more encyclical after Populorum progressio. It was Humanae vitae (On Human Life) in the summer of 1968, and it aroused widespread criticism for its total rejection of artificial birth control. Paul agonized over the document, but he chose to ignore the advice of a special papal birth control commission that had advised him to accept certain methods of contraception.

In forbidding artificial contraception for Catholics, Paul cited natural law, but a more important reason lay in the consequences he foresaw: "a wide and easy road…toward conjugal infidelity and a general lowering of morality." Millions of Catholics, unwilling to accept Paul’s reasoning, disobeyed the encyclical.  [And, 30 years after this article was written, we can see the results.]

Yet Humanae vitae was not a stubborn, willful decision. It was the work of a pastor deeply concerned by the erosion of moral values. Throughout his life, Paul was an ascetic—a dedicated worker who pushed his frail body regularly through a schedule that lasted from 6 in the morning until midnight, with little more than his meals and a siesta to break the day. Abstinent himself, he worried much and cautioned often about society’s move away from traditional family patterns and its increasing self-indulgence. He warned that the rise of militant feminism risked "either masculinizing or depersonalizing women" and condemned "the most cunning aggression of conscience through pornography."

His caveats belied Paul’s deep compassion for individuals. He could not, like Pope John, simply give mankind an indiscriminate embrace, but he could be surprisingly open in small audiences, as in a 1971 encounter with some rock musicians. "We are aware of the values you seek," he told them. "Spontaneity, sincerity, liberation from certain formal and conventional restrictions, the need to be yourselves and to interpret the demands of your time."

If Paul had expressed such views more often, his reign might have been less anguished. [Hmmm… probably not.] His exhortations might have seemed less imperious, and some measure of reciprocal understanding might have reached him, rekindling the hope and the courage that seemed to die in him as his pontificate wore on.  The papacy weighs on its bearer like a cross of centuries, and Paul VI had to carry his alone. -

*Ever the diplomat, Pius acted as his own Secretary of State after 1944, but two pro-secretaries—Montini and the late Domenico Cardinal Tardini—directed the day-by-day work.

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35 Responses to Tomorrow: 30th Anniversary of death of Paul VI

  1. johnny says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking post Fr Z. He WAS ‘il papa’ for my enitre youth. I wonder if he will end up being the fin de ligne of the Italians? RIP Santo Padre.

  2. bryan says:

    I think, in retrospect (I was in the newsroom of ABC Radio when the news broke from Rome on that Sunday afternoon, and remember thinking to myself that the torment of the world upon Paul was finally over) that we will come to a more appreciative vision of his papacy.

    While it may have unleashed a torrent of abuses, bad teachings, bad theology, and a whole host of matters which are still being corrected, let us not forget that it was he who consecrated Joseph Ratzinger as a Cardinal in His Church.

    His prediction in Humanae Vitae proved to be clearly true.

    As was his elevation of our Holy Father to the College.

    A tormented, gentle man. Especially fitting to offer prayers for the repose of his soul tomorrow, the 30th anniversary of his passing.

  3. Craigmaddie says:

    I have to say, seeing the reverse side of the medal of Pope Paul sends a shiver down my spine.

    I sometimes ask myself why so much went wrong under his pontificate and why he agreed to so many things that were, in my limited opinion, detrimental to the Church. But then I wonder whether, in fact, had another man been on the papal throne things might have been very much worse. But, then, that can only be a matter for speculation years later.

    May his gentle and burdened soul rest in peace.

  4. TJM says:

    I have always had mixed feelings about the papacy of Paul VI. My assumption was that he was uncomfortable with confrontation and that may be
    the reason so much of the fallout engendered by the “spirit of Vatican II” crowd went unaddressed. I also was very uncomfortable with the manner in
    which the Bugnini Special (Ordinary Form) was created. Perhaps, Paul VI was not a strong liturgist and failed to realize the extent of
    the liturgical revolution he was creating. That being said, I do not doubt his sanctity or his good intentions. In terms of Humanae
    Vitae, he was prophetic. The “fruits” of the contraception mentality is clearly present in a Europe which is dying demographically. Tom

  5. Gregorius Minor says:

    With all due respect to one who formerly sat on the Throne of St. Peter, certain things about Pope Paul remain absolutely baffling. If a man is “worried much… about society’s move away from traditional family patterns”, he does not write an encyclical like Humanae Vitae and then refuse to defend it. He does not refuse to punish the dissenters who used their opposition to the Church’s teaching as a tool for putting themselves in the rightful place of the Pope as THE teaching authority of the Church. If a man is “worried much… about society’s… increasing self-indulgence”, he does not reduce the Church’s historical practice of fasting and abstinence to the joke that it now is. He does not remove the very word “fasting” from the prayers and hymns of Lent. He does not abolish the Ember Days and the fasting-vigils of the great feasts. The mess that the Church is in right now results to a very large degree from Pope Paul’s refusal to exercise his authority in any way to correct the abuses that spread like wildfire through the Church during his pontificate. The only thing missing from the rider on that horse is a pair of really vicious spurs.

  6. Craigmaddie says:

    Gregorious Minor:

    The mess that the Church is in right now results to a very large degree from Pope Paul’s refusal to exercise his authority in any way to correct the abuses that spread like wildfire through the Church during his pontificate. The only thing missing from the rider on that horse is a pair of really vicious spurs.

    I think Romano Amerio’s book Iota Unum makes for very interesting reading in this regard. The author makes reference to a certain brevatio manus (I’m taking this from memory so the Latin might be wrong) that was a mark of Pope Paul’s pontificate – a continuation of the disavowal of authority that had begun with Pope John XXIII. There seems to have been a belief that was inherited from Pope John that error need only be identified but not condemned or punished as it would somehow correct itself – as if error were in essence a struggling towards truth that should be allowed to run it’s own course. Hence Pope John XXIII’s famous phrase of “prefering the medicine of mercy to the arms of severity” when countering heresy and doctrinal error.

    With respect to both these popes, they were simply wrong in this regard and, as Amerio points out in his book , the correction of error is an act of spiritual mercy.

  7. Jeff says:

    I am a great admirer of the Servant of God Paul VI, whose aid I invoke. I believe him to be a saint.

    Correction works very well when there is a consensus. But the fact that the Church fell apart as it did showed that the apparent consensus that existed before the Council was shallow and partly illusory.

    No: Modern ideas needed to be confronted and talked through, wrestled with by the whole Church. The patient was too deeply sick for shock treatment.

    Modernism was more a phenomenon than a heresy and went far deeper than any of the older heresies, deeper even than Gnosticism. It could be driven underground, but police action couldn’t solve the problem. It was too hydra-headed, too deeply ingrained in the entire mindset even of the Faithful.

    And too many good things or possibly good things were bound up with it for radical surgery…you can’t remove cancer of the kidneys simply by removing the kidneys.

    No, the last resort of the Weak was the only cure: Love and patience and abandonment to Our Blessed Lord.

    We now see that the Church has weathered the impossible storm, battered, but far more unified and healthy than we had any reason to expect. And that is why not just Paul but the two John Pauls and even Benedict have not at all governed in a different manner, but have followed in the foosteps of their Predecessor of Blessed Memory.

    Paul VI did an impossible job. He had to move in several different conflicting directions at once on several different levels. It was enough to drive any man mad. But he stuck to his job and saw it through, and kept the Faith.

  8. David Kubiak says:

    Whatever one thinks about Pope Paul’s personal saintliness, he will always be remembered as the Pope who used the autocratic Counter-Reformation papacy to destroy basic elements of the sacred tradition of the Roman Church. He admitted as much himself apropos the Novus Ordo. I cannot find such a man admirable.

  9. B. says:

    I think that the idea that Pope Paul VI. was afraid to use his authority does not work out.
    He refused to use his authority in some areas but he certainly wasn’t afraid to use it, when he wanted to.
    He forcefully removed many conservative professors from the Roman Universities, so his refusal to remove the HV dissenters was not because he was afraid to use his authority.
    He created a new Mass out of thin air and forced it onto the entire Latin Church, a use of authority no other pope has made in the entire history. He introduced the age limit for bishops so that he could replace almost the entire episcopate of the Church. In some areas even lots of bishops in their 60s were replaced. He introduced the age limit in the conclave, a direct move to prevent the election of someone like Cardinal Siri. He made innumerable other changes to other age-old traditions, some possibly of apostolic origin.
    No, whatever it was, but Pope Paul certainly wasn’t afraid to use his authority.

  10. Ottaviani says:

    No, the last resort of the Weak was the only cure: Love and patience and abandonment to Our Blessed Lord.

    We now see that the Church has weathered the impossible storm, battered, but far more unified and healthy than we had any reason to expect. And that is why not just Paul but the two John Pauls and even Benedict have not at all governed in a different manner, but have followed in the foosteps of their Predecessor of Blessed Memory.

    It is a perverted notion of love that refuses to correct when necessary. If parents followed such advice, then what wayward children would they produce. Saying that you will abandon everything to the Lord, is no excuse for letting the auto-demolition continue at full speed. John Paul I did not live long enough to exact anything and so we cannot see how his pontificate turned out. John Paul II pontificate was broadcast for all to see: scandalous liturgies that were papally allowed, disobedient cardinals and bishops appointed, a sharp rise in the paedophile priest crisis in the USA (to which the bishops did nothing but move around the aforesaid priests) and ecumenism that was literally religious indifferentism and disastrous for the missionary spirit of the church. Yes, we had the resurgence of a more younger and orthodox faithful but that is ultimately down to the grace of the Holy Spirit and not really anything down to attending mega-masses at World “Yoof” Day.

    Paul VI pontificate was one of trying to fuse truth with modern ideas: one of trying to be apologetic to the world for the church’s so-called “triumphalist” past – the same sort of spirit that is opposed to Pope Benedict’s motu proprio. While supposedly weeping on one side of his lip for the all that was happening, he gave countless permissions and approvals to all sorts of novelties with the other side. Paul VI looked to the masonically inspired UN as the “final hope of mankind” rather than Jesus Christ. He put more into defending the rights of man, while relegating the rights of God to the past (as can be seen the number of concordats that the Holy See signed with formerly Catholic countries to laicize themselves under Paul VI’s pontificate). What is most telling is how he lost all sense of defense of the faith, when Humanae Vitae was attacked (a document that isn’t precise in itself). Paul VI just wrung his hands and said he would not write anymore! Is this how a vicar of Christ reacts to a confused faithful, that looks to their Pontiff for leadership in times of trouble?

    Let it be also remembered that no pope in the history of the church, has been honoured so much on his death by the church’s enemies (Freemasons) as Paul VI. The monument to him in Varese, Milan was donated by them.

  11. Ottaviani says:

    No, the last resort of the Weak was the only cure: Love and patience and abandonment to Our Blessed Lord. We now see that the Church has weathered the impossible storm, battered, but far more unified and healthy than we had any reason to expect. And that is why not just Paul but the two John Pauls and even Benedict have not at all governed in a different manner, but have followed in the foosteps of their Predecessor of Blessed Memory.

    It is a perverted notion of love that refuses to correct when necessary. If parents followed such advice, then what wayward children would they produce. Saying that you will abandon everything to the Lord, is no excuse for letting the auto-demolition continue at full speed. John Paul I did not live long enough to exact anything and so we cannot see how his pontificate turned out. John Paul II pontificate was broadcast for all to see: scandalous liturgies that were papally allowed, disobedient cardinals and bishops appointed, a sharp rise in the paedophile priest crisis in the USA (to which the bishops did nothing but move around the aforesaid priests) and ecumenism that was literally religious indifferentism and disastrous for the missionary spirit of the church. Yes, we had the resurgence of a more younger and orthodox faithful but that is ultimately down to the grace of the Holy Spirit and not really anything down to attending mega-masses at World “Yoof” Day.

    Paul VI pontificate was one of trying to fuse truth with modern ideas: one of trying to be apologetic to the world for the church’s so-called “triumphalist” past – the same sort of spirit that is opposed to Pope Benedict’s motu proprio. While supposedly weeping on one side of his lip for the all that was happening, he gave countless permissions and approvals to all sorts of novelties with the other side. Paul VI looked to the masonically inspired UN as the “final hope of mankind” rather than Jesus Christ. He put more into defending the rights of man, while relegating the rights of God to the past (as can be seen the number of concordats that the Holy See signed with formerly Catholic countries to laicize themselves under Paul VI’s pontificate). What is most telling is how he lost all sense of defense of the faith, when Humanae Vitae was attacked (a document that isn’t precise in itself). Paul VI just wrung his hands and said he would not write anymore! Is this how a vicar of Christ reacts to a confused faithful, that looks to their Pontiff for leadership in times of trouble?

    Let it be also remembered that no pope in the history of the church, has been honoured so much on his death by the church’s enemies (Freemasons) as Paul VI. The monument to him in Varese, Milan was donated by them.

  12. Boko says:

    Part of the answer is in the article. Paul VI thought “nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war.” He was wrong, and much was lost.

  13. Thomas says:

    Are we talking about the Pope Paul VI who was Giovanni Montini, or the one with the shorter earlobes who was put on the throne by Freemasons when Montini was drugged and put in captivity?

    Just wondering. It’s serious questions like this that need answering.

  14. athanasius says:

    Just wondering. It’s serious questions like this that need answering.

    Please tell me that was sarcasm!

  15. QC says:

    I also have mixed feelings of his pontificate. It was definitely a very difficult time.

    As an aside, one can see how much impact the media had in spreading the false spirit of Vatican II–there’s a lot of misrepresentation of certain doctrines going on. Also, PP was probably Pope Paul’s weakest encyclicals rather than his strongest from what I have read–and also from what those I know who are very knowledgeable about Catholic social teaching have said.

  16. Deusdonat says:

    Father Z – interesting article. I would disagree with the author’s translation of “aggiornamento” to “modernization”, as the latter has a bit of a technical connotation (often negative) associated with it. To us, “aggiornamento” simply means “update” as in “ogni lunedì c’è un aggiornamento fra il gruppo” (every monday there is an update among the group).

    One question: why do you suppose Pope Benedict (may God bless him and grant him 100 years) dropped the title “Patriarch of the West”?

  17. Antiquarian says:

    For what it’s worth, I remember when this medal was unveiled, and the reverse was described as St Paul struck by a vision of the Lord on the road to Damascus. I found this fascinating website when I tried to verify that memory–

    http://www.csun.edu/~hcfll004/PaulVI.html

    But given that Paul VI’s devotion to the art of the time, I imagine he saw the comparison to his papacy also.

  18. Mitch says:

    Whee to go with this one? Whatever good came from his Pontificate, and there was, the destruction that took place dutring it far outweighs it. Previous Popes, and Popes after Paul VI for whatever reasons are not remembered or talked about with such negativity..In the average circle of people mention Paul VI and what happened in that time and their faces wrack with saddness. Too much changed, too much did not, and it took its’ toll. In the end he lost control of the ship…Some people say “What could he do?” “Those were difficult years” He gave in to liberal theory and did open Pandora’s box. Whether he intended to is an entirely different subject. He did. Too much of where we are today is directly linked to his name and his promulgations and allocutions. In the very least he made us question the smallest things which of course leads people to question the bigger. From lace to contraception. I do not think we weathered the storm, but in fact landed on some remote island, unfamiliar to us even now and we are still looking for a way off. If this were to have happened in a corporation and Paul VI were CEO and we were all on the Board of Directors what would our reaction be? I thought so. I will remember him and pray for him indeed.

  19. Malta says:

    *Küng was simply warned not to teach such opinions in the future, but did not have to recant them.* But he was censored from teaching Theology in 1980.

    *Santo Padre.*

    Hmmm, not sure on that one, I have heard that the Cause for Saints quickly tabled one on Paul VI once they delved into his history:

    http://ncrcafe.org/node/851

    Remember, not every Pope is good, or even in heaven….

  20. Ioannes Andreades says:

    1,997 to 224
    People argue over whether any new doctrines came out of Vatican II to which we must submit our intellect. I have heard cited the teaching on religious freedom as one of those doctrines. My understanding, however, is that for any infallible dogma to come out of a council, unanimity is required on the part of the attending bishops unless they are anathematized or excommunicated. What is the dogmatic significance of these conciliar constitutions?

  21. An American Mother says:

    Speaking as a former Episcopalian who married the grandson of a Methodist minister (both of us now safely in the fold):

    It’s not so much that Anglicans are becoming Methodists, as that Methodists and Anglicans were the same all along. Charles and John Wesley lived and died as Anglican ministers; they never intended to start a new church – it just happened. The old Book of Common Prayer service used to be stashed in the back of the Methodist Hymnal as the “Order of Worship”, although many Methodist churches never used it.

    The inevitable consequence of Elizabeth I’s ‘big umbrella’ – where you could be ALMOST a Puritan, or ALMOST an Enthusiast (what they used to call Methodists), or ALMOST a Catholic – so long as you didn’t come right out and say so.

    Protestantism is very confusing. We are well out of there.

  22. MPod says:

    It’s rather easy to be the pope who “opens the windows” and asks aloud the questions which many, both traditionalist and progressive, had asked quietly for decades. And it’s perhaps less easy but still quite tenable to be the pope who begins to settle the dust kicked up by the questions themselves, and by the answers offered to the questions, answers which were sometimes right and sometimes wrong. But it is very, very hard to be the pope who has to try his best to steer the Church through the dust storm, lest she risk being rent asunder, right down the middle.

    I don’t say this to make excuses for the vacillations and hesitancies for which Paul VI was well-known even before his pontificate. And I do not suggest that mistakes, sometimes grave, weren’t made. But here was a man who tried his best, sometimes succeeding, many times failing, and then became discouraged and frightened. He didn’t perhaps always do his best, but I believe he always tried his best.

    What can we learn from this man? Quite much actually, both of a positive and a negative timbre. But the precondition to any wisdom which we might gain from observing what was at times a tormented papacy is to lay aside the calumnus inuendos and half-read histories offered by those whose own frustration and torment seems to cloud both charity and reason, and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in discerning what is best to keep, what is best to purify (ecclesia semper purificanda) and what is best to lay aside altogether.

    No pope is complete, each depends on his predecessors and even his successors, so that it is really Christ who rules, and not man. This is how the Church has endured for two-thousand years, and will continue to stand, the gates of hell notwithstanding.

    Remember this Servant of God with kindness, and pray for him.

  23. johnny says:

    Hear, hear.

    What is the line from/about the novendiales, having been great, (in the sense of heavy responsibility) he is in need of greater prayer? It is much easier to pass judgement (not to mention toss around unproved accusations) from the comfort of one’s cushy desk chair in front of the computer, than to sit in the chair of Peter. I at least will offer a prayer for the late pontiff, and have no trouble using the term of respect, Holy Father.

    DD: I think there was a discussion of the dropping of “Patriarch of the West” but nothing definitive was said. Whether it was to send a message to the East that as Roman Pontiff, he is greater than mere Patriarch, or to simply bypass the title, I know not.

    Cheers.

  24. RBrown says:

    The mistake made by Paul VI (and, for that matter, John XXIII) is taking for granted the edifice of discipline in the Church–Latin liturgy, and the thorough seminary formation, including study of the humanities and philosophy. They took it for granted and did not defend it even though they had been warned that there were members of the hierarchy and theologians who wanted to destroy it.

    Then one Paul VI looked up, and it was gone, largely due to people he had appointed. His response was to sulk and blame the problems on other people (cf Donald Rumsfeld).

    I am not sympathetic to Paul VI because so many suffered because of his dreamy incompetence and lying.

  25. Jeff says:

    Ottaviani said:

    It is a perverted notion of love that refuses to correct when necessary.

    I disagree.

    If I have a sixteen year old boy who won’t obey me, I may simply be unable to control him. I could kick him out of the house and risk losing him forever. I could–if government and my own strength allowed me–perhaps beat him with cudgels.

    Or I could try something less authoritative. I could try love and persuasion.

    Sometimes, there are no easy choices when it comes to discipline.

    I remember reading in a biography of St. Peter Canisius years ago of an Archbishop of Strassbourg during the Counter Reformation, who was officially in communion with the Pope, but was an open and notorious Lutheran.

    Rome refused to remove him or discipline him in any way, reasoning that the whole Strassbourg archdiocese–which had become almost completely Lutheranized–would go into permanent schism.

    Wise of them, don’t you think? When the Archbishop died, a Catholic was appointed. But one who proceeded by slow and easy steps to bring the people back to the Church. And? No schism.

    Of course, the Popes notoriously did little to interfere with the pervasive Gallicanism and Jansenism and sometimes frank atheism in the French church of the eighteenth century. They kept on appointing questionable bishops and exercised patience. And eventually, the problems died out in the main and France became a very papally oriented country.

    No: I think you are dead wrong. I understand where you are coming from. But the late Popes have been wiser than you.

  26. Jordanes says:

    Jeff said: Wise of them, don’t you think? When the Archbishop died, a Catholic was appointed.

    More likely elected than appointed, I suspect, but yes, there’s a case to be made for sometimes refraining from direct discipline.

    Of course, the Popes notoriously did little to interfere with the pervasive Gallicanism and Jansenism and sometimes frank atheism in the French church of the eighteenth century. They kept on appointing questionable bishops and exercised patience. And eventually, the problems died out in the main and France became a very papally oriented country.

    She did? Is that the same France that exists on this planet earth, in the same universe that the rest of us exist in?

    Somebody refresh my memory: didn’t the French king still meddle in the appointment of bishops during the 1700s and even 1800s? I’m not sure French bishops in those days were simply appointed by the Pope the way they are now.

  27. MPod says:

    “I am not sympathetic to Paul VI because so many suffered because of his dreamy incompetence and lying.”

    Like I said.

  28. Anthony says:

    Jeff:

    If a three year old is dashing towards traffic tell me how will “love and persuasion” work to make them stop? I can tell you, not a whit! You have to run after them and tackle them and forcebly keep them from killing themselves.

    I think its only fair to worry as much over peoples souls as I do about the children I watch.

  29. Tomás López says:

    Paul VI: Good Christian, disastrous leader.

    Heavy is the head that wears the crown. (Or should that say papal tiara?)

  30. Ottaviani says:

    Jeff

    I respect your prerogative to disagree with me. I have no attention of forcing you to see my point.

    But my point about Paul VI remains. He was a weak pope, who did not use his power entrusted to him by God, to rule the church and stir the barque onto calm waters. As a result many souls were lost and many good souls were persecuted for simply being Catholic (Cardinal Mindszenty and Slipyj come to mind as do others.)

    I would humbly encourage you to read the distressingly accurate “devils advocate” account against Paul VI beatification by Rev. Dr. Luigi Villa Paolo VI Beato?. Or even a pro-Paul VI biography will reveal just how Honorius-like his pontificate really was.

  31. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    As Alice von Hildebrand has said, Humanae Vitae was certainly the “glory of his pontificate,” but let’s not forget certain facts. It was Paul VI himself who stirred up the hornets’ nest by appointing a commission of “theologians,” to study the issue…and packed it with pro-artificial-contraception types so that he could get a better understanding “of the counterargument.” That commission of course soon took on quasi-official status such that when the traditional (and, uh…infallible under the ordinary magisterium) teaching was re-presented in HV, there was even more howling about it. Why? Because Paul had gone against the recommendations “of his own commission.” How ridiculously imprudent he was !

    And how about the episcopal appointments? We’re still dealing with the effects of some of these disastrous, destructive creatures and their bourgeois mindsets. An entire generation has been lost to the Faith…and these episcopal appointments have everything to do with it.

    And then the liturgy…the English language stands pauper in describing the desolation that this unthinking man inflicted on the Church. How truly it has been said that Paul VI adhered (at least for a time) to that worst of all counsels: “That which can be done ought to be done.” It is positively stunning that with hardly a care he took the hacksaw to traditions that no pope had ever considered himself worthy to alter. The best that can be said is that he was stunningly ignorant.

    I hope earnestly that Pope Paul is in a happier place. But to think of beatifying or even canonizing him? Enough with the comedy!

    May he rest in peace…while we and our descendants repair the destruction he wrought.

  32. MPod says:

    513-88

    This was the vote of the Vatican I fathers on papal infallability. Unanimous votes are not required for dogmatic declarations to be definitive. If such were the case, the dogma of papal infallability would be in question. Last time I checked, (and thank God) it is not.

    The wisdom of the Church in waiting for a long, long time before beatifying or canonizing someone should be rejoined here. I would think that declaring him venerable would be about as far as the Church could go at this juncture and remain prudent. As a pious belief to which I am personally entitled, I hold him to be in heaven. However, because of the difficulties of his papacy, and our nearness to those times, perhaps declaring him so would not serve the faithful well. The feast of All Saints provides for the fact that not everyone in heaven is presumably a model for universal devotion and veneration. I would venture that’s why a number of good popes are not canonized.

    Of course, if the Church’s magisterium were to declare him so beatified or canonized, I would gratefully invoke his prayers, as I did when the at-times notorious Pius IX was beatified along with John XXIII. I would hope some of our brethren commenting above would rejoice in such a declaration, despite their objections to a number of aspects of his papacy.

    And yes, Santo Padre, because this title signifies the office to which he was elected by the conclave of 1963 (working under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit). If not Santo Paulo VI just yet, or ever, doesn’t mean he is not in heaven, and what a lack of charity to appear hopeful he is not.

    May the Divine Mercy attend us all.

  33. Ottaviani says:

    MPod: I would gratefully invoke his prayers, as I did when the at-times notorious Pius IX was beatified along with John XXIII.

    Would you care to elaborate on the above statement on Blessed Pius IX?

    Also: none of us are implying or hoping that Paul VI is not in Heaven. As Catholics we are free to point out with reservation, those aspects of his pontificate which deviated from the depositum fidei as well criticizing (charitably) those actions which caused scandal and untold confusion to the faithful. This, we believe, must be taken into account for any process to raise Paul VI (and John Paul II) to the altars.

    In the words of the great Alessandro Manzoni:

    “… One must demand, of a doctrine, of the legitimate consequences that are drawn from it, and not of those which passions might deduce from it”

  34. MPod says:

    My dear brother Ottaviani,

    I said “at-times notorious” because there have been from the time of his pontificate those who objected to a number of his post-1848 mannerisms and prudential decisions, some of which mitigated in a number of minds (although incorrectly) his being a model of sanctity.

    “Paul VI just wrung his hands and said he would not write anymore! Is this how a vicar of Christ reacts to a confused faithful, that looks to their Pontiff for leadership in times of trouble?” The same could be said about the pope who wrung his hands and exiled himself in the Vatican because he had lost the altogether unnecessary papal states, the loss of which in time actually proved to be a great benefit for the See of Peter and its independence from temporal constraints and the nonsense of the secular world. The faithful were confused then as well, especially in Italy.

    Now for myself he is not notorious, but a loyal churchman and personally holy pontiff who must be understood for who he really was: a pope who always tried his best, but did not always necessarily do his best. Many have noted the following: his treatment of the Jews in Rome after 1848, his refusal to even negotiate possible terms of Italian unification, his well-documented personal behavior towards those bishops who disagreed with the way the infallability question was being handled before and during (and even after) the council, the reactionary tenor of his potificate after Italian unification, and the manner in which he “imprisoned” himself in the Vatican after losing the Papal States.

    These were hardly stellar moments for his papacy or for the Church of Christ. They were part of the reason his beatification was stalled in 1970, the centennial of Vatican I. He was a saintly man in most respects, a loyal son of the Church, and the blessed pope who defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who fought against the excesses of the so-called Enlightenment, and who convened the First Vatican Council with its teachings on faith and reason and of course the dogma on papal ifallibility. Yet not everything he did or said (“I am tradition!”) was wise, or prudent, or helpful to souls, or worthy of veneration. Yet he was beatified, and I am most happy about this recognition, for it takes the man as a whole and declares him accordingly.

    We have had commenters above who have (without the elaboration you asked of me) called the Servant of God Paul VI a liar, a coward, a cause of lost souls, a hypocrite, destructive, and a persecutor of good; one who suggested he was a homosexual, and even one who said he was dubiously worthy of the title Holy Father (the same commenter who for some mysterious reason felt the need to point out that not all popes are in heaven, a point hardly worth mentioning unless it was intended to suggest something). You yourself linked his name with freemasonry (without the elaboration you expect from others). And then out-of-nowhere (once again without elaboration) you threw in the process for John Paul II. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the charity in these glib accusations.

    “One must demand, of a doctrine, of the legitimate consequences that are drawn from it, and not of those which passions might deduce from it.” Absolutely. Hence, my comments above. The passions of the present age make the beatification of recent popes difficult. This is obvious when a simple blog entry noting the late Holy Father’s anniversary of death brings so much detraction and calumny, along with a few lucid lines of what one might reasonably call “criticizing (charitably).”

    Blessed Pius IX, pray for us. Blessed John XXIII, pray for us. All holy men and women, pray for us.

    Brethren let us pray for one another. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

  35. Jeff says:

    Jordanes:

    I don’t know whether the Pope had direct appointment power in France. But I do know that if you believe that a Pope must simply condemn and remove bishops who show a heretical bent regardless of the consequences, then the Popes of those times could have done so: at the price of schism.

    I don’t know how Strassbourg got its next bishop. But my clear memory from the biography I read–an old reliable one from an old trusty Jesuit–was that in a diocese which was almost completely Lutheranized, a Catholic bishop was appointed. And schism avoided.