Decree on “heroic virtues” of Ven. Paul VI promulgated

This just in:

(Vatican Radio) On Thursday 20th December Pope Benedict XVI received in private audience the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B.

In the course of the audience the Pope authorised the Congregation to promulgate the decree recognizing the heroic virtues of Paul VI.

Venerable Paul VI, now.

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57 Responses to Decree on “heroic virtues” of Ven. Paul VI promulgated

  1. Rellis says:

    Should we just stipulate that every Pope from here on out has heroic virtues and will be declared venerable absent extenuating circumstances? We’re coming up on a whole lifetime since we’ve had a non-venerable Pope, right? Maybe JP1 is still just a servant of God, but I’m not even sure about that. I know Pius XII is venerable, at least. Not sure about Benedict XV and Pius XI.

  2. wolfeken says:

    This is one of those times where it is really better to say nothing at all than to ask how something like this can happen.

  3. george says:

    I’d be curious to see the list of heroic things he did. [That is NOT what "heroic virtue" is about. For more go HERE and read carefully.] I was just born in that era, so I don’t know much about it. But what I see of the wreckage which followed the Second Vatican Council, I’m not convinced there was much heroic done in that era by Church leadership.

  4. Gratias says:

    Venerable Paul VI, defender of communism in Hungary, Poland and USSR, destroyer of Catholic worship through Vatican Council II and Liberator of the Seminaries.

  5. PatriciusOenus says:

    lamentabile quidem

  6. restoration says:

    If dismantling the Church brick by brick is considered “heroic virtue”, we have many more “Venerables” out there who need to be recognized. What a sick joke this “Saint Factory” has become. What a failure of leadership and truth. This Roma Curia soils the name of those declared Venerable in the past with this abominable declaration. I am ashamed that the Holy Father allowed this nonsense to be promulgated. Pope Paul VI was no hero to anyone but the Masons. The nightmare of his Papacy has not ended for the average Catholic in the world today.

    Everyone makes mistakes, but a genuine hero would have begun to reverse course once the damage was obvious and fought the forces of evil that dwelled in the Church. Humane Vitae notwithstanding, Paul VI continued leading the Church deeper into chaos long after it was evident to all that he had made terrible choices . His pride and obstinate refusal, unto death, to reverse his errors is only an example to others for what NOT to do. God have mercy on his soul!

  7. Dr. K says:

    Every VII pope is going to be made a saint.

  8. Tim Ferguson says:

    he also recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Bl. Antonio Primaldo and his 800 Companions, the Martyrs of Otranto, who were slain in 1480 at the command of the Moslem Turkish Pasha because they refused to renounce their faith in Christ. Their heroic stand in Otranto is often credited with helping to save Italy and Rome from the same fate that had befallen Constantinople only 27 years earlier.

    Blessed – soon to be Saint Antonio and His Companions would be good patrons of the European resistance to Islamization.

  9. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Prayers to the Holy Ghost for guidance

  10. cwillia1 says:

    I would like to hear more about the heroic virtues of Pope Paul VI.

  11. Athanasius says:

    All I can say is, thank God these types of decrees are not infallible, because there is a lot to be said against. Not just Paul VI’s betrayal of Cardinal Mindsentzy for sake of being nice to the Soviets, but his presiding over and giving the Church over to the devil. He did not speak with a clear voice, he did not defend the Church. Bl. Pius IX, the truly great Pope of the 19th century, by contrast, fought heroically against actual physical persecution, namely that the freemasons took up arms to kill him twice and in the end succeeded in making him a prisoner in the Vatican. He never gave into the world, or presided over pro-abortion and pro-eugenics bodies like the UN.
    This just seems to me, in nearly communist fashion, to beatify anyone who had anything to do with the Council. If we want a hermeneutic of continuity, how about raising to the altars Popes like Pius XII, for whom there is a documented miracle of John Paul II telling a man not to pray to him, but to pray to Pius XII instead. I see things like this and my eyes glaze over. More reason to ignore about anything coming out of Rome.

  12. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Heroically prudent. Heroically just. Heroically strong. Heroically temperate. Just ask Cardinal Mindszenty. Such an awesome 15 years, why can’t we go back to that golden, heroic age?

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    It puzzles me too. Yes, Humana Vitae in the face of opposition was heroic. And Mysterium Fidei was also an excellent writing. But it ended. We have read how he wrung his hands and wept but no longer stood strong. He allowed the novus ordo (based on the Anglican book of common prayer) to userp the Mass of the ages. I guess I am a little bit peeved at him! Perhaps there was personal holiness–one does not like to go against the judgment of ‘the vatican’-but it did not play out in his pontificate. And the chaos and fallout from the misinterpretation of the Council and the imposing of the ‘new Mass’ have meant millions and millions of souls leaving the Church. Hard to get past that as it happened on his watch.

  14. Phil_NL says:

    I think we keep forgetting too often that the holiness of a Pope is not the same as his administrative qualities. Some sainted popes made very poor decisions indeed. If miracles would be forthcoming, then who are we to nag about the errors made in governance? God knows all and forgives more than we humans tend to. I would be loathe to judge on any promulgation of a decree of heroic virtue.

    @Rellis : starting from Saint Peter, from the first 49 popes, just one wasn’t a saint. The next 50 have a roughly 50-50 ratio of being Saints. I don’t see a reversal to those patterns as a bad thing, quite the contrary.

  15. MrTipsNZ says:

    I would say Humanae vitae was fairly heroic, in context. That alone qualifies.
    Our Popes, Bishops and priests are given to us by God. We MUST support them.
    Otherwise we make unto ourselves our own magisterium, wild and reeling and thrashing against the rocks of reason & faith.

  16. Mike says:

    Well, I don’t like–rather, despise–the 70s, and all that craziness, but really, think for three solid minutes where we’d be if Paul VI caved on artificial birth control.

    Sure, it was Peter speaking in the power of the office, guided by the Holy Spirit. But Paul the man was the flak-catcher. Whew. The seas were CRAZY back then!

    Humanae Vitae, fyi, was signed on my 7th birthday.

  17. pseudomodo says:


    Paul VI was a pope who would be a great example of the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

    This must be understood in the sense that those who desired to change the church and decieve the holy father were foiled. They were foiled in the sense that Paul VI signed every document of Vatican II, a document that is a lot more orthodox than most people realize. If we had followed V2 to the letter, the liturgy would not be that much different from pre-V2.

    Perhaps the church was wounded but it was not mortally wounded thanks to Paul VI.

  18. Finarfin says:

    I don’t think declaring Paul VI as Venerable is a bad thing. I think too much of the era is being blamed on one who did not approve of the behavior. The culture in general, not just Catholic culture, was going under a lot of negative changes. I think Pope Benedict XVI is being a good teacher when it comes to sifting through the wreckage and separating Vatican II documents (and in this case Paul VI as well), from the rebels and heretics who twisted what the Pope and the Council said. Really the only questionable part of Paul VI’s reign was whether he should have been tougher on them. This is a prudential judgement, and as he is Pope and I am not, I’ll defer to his judgement. But his own outlook was clear: he was not a modernist (and neither is Pope Benedict XVI). He promulgated Humanae Vitae, and the Vatican Council documents do not contain heresy (and they even talk about the use of Latin and Greogrian chant). On a personal level, he did such things as publishing “Jubilate Deo”, a “minimum repetoire” of Latin chants. While I have not researched his life in great detail, I see nothing that would necessarily bar him from receiving the title Venerable. Neither has Pope Benedict XVI, who approved of Paul VI’s new title.

  19. jacobi says:

    It’s all a bit puzzling. At worst this trend devalues the concept of sainthood.

    I cannot judge whether or not John XXIII or Paul VI displayed heroic virtue or not.

    But objective observation suggests that John XXIII was naive and impetuous, and that Paul VI was vascillating and easily manipulated. Both were frankly out of their depth in dealing with the acute and pre-planned machinations of the liberal and Modernist elements at work during and more importantly after Vatican II.

    John Paul II was initially too pre-occupied with his native Eastern Europe and only belatedly woke up to the problems of the wider world.

    Thank God for Benedict.

  20. onosurf says:

    Truly, we are living in an incredible holy era for the church. All the popes since VII, except our current pope, are steps away from sainthood. Compare that will the prior 400 years (I think 2?)…wow. We are so lucky.

  21. MichaelJ says:

    Of all people, a Pope is more likely than anyone else to be granted the boon of Sainthood. Think about it. Who has better access to the Sacraments, especially Penance near the end of one’s life? So I have no trouble believing that Pope Paul VI is, in fact, in Heaven.

    That’s not why the Church raise an individual to the Altars though, is it? As I understand it, a declaration of Sainthood is for our benefit so that we may emulate that person. I understand that he has not yet been declared a Saint, but it’s still a good example to use.

    With that in mind, how do we distinguish between the behaviors and actions of Pope Paul VI that we should emulate and those that we should not?

    St. Augustine, for eample was quite a scoundral in his early life. Obviously, we should not emulate him by fathering an illegitimate child, but instead emulate his devotion after he converted.

    With Pope Paul VI, and seemingly with all “modern” Saints, its not quite so easy. There is a huge push to give tremendous weight to everything a Sainted person ever did, said or thought. How do we avoid falling into that trap?

  22. Maria says:

    I hope Pope Paul VI becomes a saint. [You realize that Paul VI died in 1978, right?]

  23. WaywardSailor says:

    Humanae Vitae. Heroic.

  24. Shellynna says:

    For the first 300 or so years of Church history, the first 35 popes were ALL recognized to be saints. The first pope not to be recognized as a saint was Liberius, who started his reign in A.D. 352. Why should there be any amazement, much less resentment and carping, that God has blessed this second Age of Martyrs with saintly pontiffs? I fully expect every pope of the 20th century to eventually be canonized.

  25. Clinton R. says:

    I would say the promulgation of the heroic virtue of Pope Paul VI is a sign of the continued promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae and of the ‘greatness’ of the Second Vatican Council. This, along with the comments of Archbishop Muller towards the SSPX, seems to signal the continued marginalization of the TLM and traditionalism. Once again, Vatican II is to be seen as a great moment in Church history and despite what has unfolded since, it is to be held up as the “New Springtime”. I am sure the SSPX and sedevacantist blogs will have a field day with this latest development.

  26. shin says:

    So have the Post-Conciliar authorities tinkered with sainthood and all that leads up to it too?

    After all, nothing else was left untouched.

  27. ocalatrad says:


  28. JLCG says:

    When Robert Morlino was our pastor he said something that pierced my mind. He said that saints are not necessarily those that have done everything well but those that have done one thing well.
    In this regard Paul VI was certainly heroic. Against the whole tide of opinion he wrote Humanae Vitae. He was vilified by everyone. The magazine LOOK asked that he resign. The French bishops declared that birth control was a “disorder” that means a sin but they did no dare to call it that.
    One had to live at that time and feel the absolute hatred that was piled up on top of Paul VI.
    I suffered a lot with how the church was drifting at that time but now we are witnessing a glorious renewal.
    The hatred towards him seems to subsist until today.

  29. Christopher says:

    We are either in a period where every single Pope ever since a certain date automatically becomes a Saint, or we are in a rare period where we have had an amazing number of Saintly Popes contrary to other periods in our history.

    God Bless.

  30. lydia says:

    I have no idea if Paul VI deserves sainthood. My first and only thought was his appointment of Rembert Weakland and the near destruction of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

  31. dominic1955 says:

    I do not question his personal holiness, that is something none of us can know. [That is why the causes seek to establish this within "moral certainty".]

    However, this reminds me of the story that supposedly Thomas a Kempis was never made a saint because they dug him up and it appeared that he was buried alive-and might not have resigned himself to his fate.

    Harsh as that may seem, it was a good thing we had such hard-nosed Dominican scholastics (probably, I’m guessing) running the Causes of the Saints. To be raised to the honor of the altars shouldn’t be for just anyone that was a pretty good guy, and seemingly holy to boot. We look back in history, and how many popes are saints? It took Innocent XI how many centuries to just get beatified? If someone is truly that holy, they can wait and I think the Church owes it to the Faithful to act with the proper sobriety and gravitas so as not to make the sainthood process look like cheap politicking or some chintzy “deification” akin to what the Roman emperors would do to people they got rid of but had to pay lip service to.

    I’m personally disappointed at the “streamlining” of the official sainthood process. I thought one of the points of it was to make sure that people don’t get “made” saints because of emotional zeal and other nonsense? I for one think it was a good thing that so few people were officially raised to the altars by the pre-Vatican II popes.

  32. pseudomodo says:

    If I was Pope I would immediatly canonize Paul VI just for promulgating Humanae Vitae.

    If I was Pope…

  33. robtbrown says:

    Phil_NL says:

    I think we keep forgetting too often that the holiness of a Pope is not the same as his administrative qualities. Some sainted popes made very poor decisions indeed. If miracles would be forthcoming, then who are we to nag about the errors made in governance? God knows all and forgives more than we humans tend to. I would be loathe to judge on any promulgation of a decree of heroic virtue


    Prudence is the Queen of the virtues, thus Pastoral Prudence is very much an indication of the sainthood of a bishop or any ordinary.

  34. Imrahil says:

    Well… there’s faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. We cannot deny that Pope Paul VI had these. [Some seem to deny fortitude here... but fall-backs for prudential reasons can be chosen without sin, and even though they can perhaps be chosen against without sin in the same time.]

    There’s a quite frankly superhuman workload, acquired as a Secretary under Ven Pope Pius XII. As for me personally, I have an emotional prejudice against people who work so much (3 hours sleep, I hear); I prefer the Pope Bl. John XXIII approach; but honor to whom honor is due.

    There’s Humanae vitae, there’s Mysterium fidei, there’s Vatican II which – let’s face it – is quite an amount of Magisterium, there’s in especially the Nota praevia within Vatican II, there’s Sacerdotialis caelibatus (though I personally miss the thought that the celibate is intriniscially appropriate for the priesthood even though the Greeks have other practice; a thought I think important because the world is heavily against the celibate and noone is converted to a mere nice-to-have; this thought is present in Pius XI’s Ad catholici sacerdotii), there’s the doctrinal basis for Ordinatio sacerdotalis, and there’s the jubilee of 1975.

    It is often said that Rome was too friendly to Communism. Let it be said thus, for completeness’ sake, that all the times until 1990, East Germany was organized in territories known as The Episcopal Office of e.g. Erfurt and Meiningen, under a permanent Apostolic Administrator ad nutum Santae Sedis. They remained part of their original dioceses (in the example, Fulda for Erfurt, and Würzburg for Meiningen). The request of the East German government to upgrade them to Apostolic Administratures was denied ( the “u versus o quarrel”); to be silent of dioceses. The Vatican did not internationally recognize the GDR until after the Western Allied (observing the Hallstein Doctrine); and they never entered into a diplomatic relationship.

    The problem of course is this: Canonizations are also about who is a specific hero for us (excels others as much as a martyr does; as it originally evolved*); but this is, in a way, a political question. Hence also all this questioning.

    But even then it remains that Paul VI was Pope, was Pope in a very problematic age of the Church, and managed through is Papacy with personal holiness, upholding the true faith in his office, and was constantly “martyred” within inverted commas from the hands of the enemies of the Church in public opinion. He is, I do not doubt, in Heaven right now, and deserves to be called a sinner only in the way canonized saints also do.

    And this, not the (indeed) implied political choosing, is also what the infallible thing of an eventual canonization consists in.

  35. Here’s what I wrote on another blog “This is one of those things that makes me question….I hardly see allowing Communion in the Hand, and destruction of the Liturgy as heroic. The issuing of Humanae Viatae during the time in Church history, yes. I don’t know if this is humble of me to say that I don’t want Paul VI raised to the altars, just as I was against JPII’s beatification at this point….I still think that we’re not at a point where we can measure the Pontificate of Paul VI or his person objectively as we’re still suffering many of the effects. Ultimately, I’m not the decision maker, and I leave these things to the wisdom of Holy Mother Church, but from what I’ve seen, I can’t say that I agree with Ven Paul VI”

  36. Geoffrey says:

    “We are either in a period where every single Pope ever since a certain date automatically becomes a Saint…”

    Could you name them? Only Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul the Great have been beatified; Venerable Pius XII and Venerable Paul VI are “venerable”; John Paul I is a “servant of God”. This lists the last 5 popes, and so far not a canonized saint among them.

    “…or we are in a rare period where we have had an amazing number of Saintly Popes contrary to other periods in our history”.

    Why not? The first 35 bishops of Rome are recognized as saints… then comes Pope Liberius (d. 366) who is not recognized as a saint… then we have another 13 popes who are saints.

    Or do we long for the days of the Borgia’s?

    If Holy Mother Church raises a Bishop of Rome to the altars, then we, the children of the Church, should rejoice!

    It is God who decides who is canonized and who is not. Remember that little 2-miracle rule? It is also God who decides who is pope, and He chose Venerable Paul VI for a reason. A pope may be the Vicar of Christ, but that does not mean he is omnipotent and omniscient. Let us trust in the One who is!

  37. kallman says:

    This must surely be, at least in part, an attempt to “shore up” the status of the post conciliar Church during a time of increasingly critical retrospectivity.

  38. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says:

    Well… there’s faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. We cannot deny that Pope Paul VI had these. [Some seem to deny fortitude here... but fall-backs for prudential reasons can be chosen without sin, and even though they can perhaps be chosen against without sin in the same time.]

    There is no virtue of Fortitude without the virtue of Prudence to know and direct actions away from what would be Rash Boldness and what would be Cowardice (the first an extreme of excess, the latter of defect). That’s why St Thomas said (as I noted above, and as you blissfully ignored) Prudence is the Queen of the Virtues.

    You’re right. There was Humanae Vitae, Mysterium Fidei (whose primary author was a man I first met 40 years ago), and the Nota Praevia (cf Pericle Felici), which I think dances around the question of the nature of jurisdiction. As I said before, Paul VI did nothing about bishops, priests, and theologians who actively opposed those 3 texts, letting them persecute those who embraced them.

    There’s little doubt he became pope in difficult times and suffered because of it. That doesn’t make him a saint, nor do the documents–I doubt that you think promulgating Unam Sanctam means that Bonface VIII was a saint.

    Also: When Pio Laghi was nuncio in Argentina, he recommended liberals as bishops. When he became nuncio in the US, the new bishops were not liberal. What is the difference? Paul VI was pope when Mgr Laghi was in Argentina, JPII during the US years.

  39. robtbrown says:

    Also: The question is not whether Paul VI had the virtues, but rather whether they were heroic.

  40. discipulus says:

    In a sermon given by our priest at the TLM a few weeks ago, our priest (who, understandably, is not a real fan of the NO) mentioned that, when the New Mass was introduced and liturgical abuse became common, that Pope Paul VI had lamented that “the smoke of satan had infected the Catholic Church” (or something along the lines of that).

  41. Maria says:

    @pseudomodo … I agree with you …

  42. Shellynna says: For the first 300 or so years of Church history, the first 35 popes were ALL recognized to be saints.

    They were martyred.

  43. Christopher says:


    Could you name them? Only Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul the Great have been beatified; Venerable Pius XII and Venerable Paul VI are “venerable”; John Paul I is a “servant of God”. This lists the last 5 popes, and so far not a canonized saint among them.

    Sorry, not saints, but the pathway to sainthood.

    Why not? The first 35 bishops of Rome are recognized as saints… then comes Pope Liberius (d. 366) who is not recognized as a saint… then we have another 13 popes who are saints.

    I do not see why not, it just reflects that rare period in our history that we are graced with.

    God Bless.

  44. Phil_NL says:


    To judge whether actions were prudent, one needs to look at the alternatives that were under the consideration and the thought process that preceded the decision. Not at the result of the decision, which still can be disasterous.
    For example: St. Celestine V was probably prudent in abdicating, as he was wholly unsuited for the job and probably knew it, yet the consequences are a pain several centuries later, as the ironclad rule that popes didn’t abdicate had been broken.
    Back to Paul VI, I can imagine that promulgating the NO (which seems to be his major ‘imprudence’) may have been the prudent course of action. I wasn’t around back then, nor have any idea on the state of curia and Church then, so I defer judgement on this to the Church. If there wasn’t a decree, I wouldn’t lobby for it, but since there is, I see no reason to doubt it.

  45. Imrahil says:

    Dear @robtbrown,

    as to your first part, sorry for the ignorance… however I spoke about what may colloquially be called the “prudence as excusing apparently sinful acts”; this wording may be not the best but the thing is there (as in being silent about one’s faith in certain given situations).

    I think there are situations where both courageous attack and prudent fall-back can be taken without sin.

    The question is not whether Paul VI had the virtues, but rather whether they were heroic.
    Touché. But if I can hold that he had them and the Church says they were heroic, then I know too little about the precise difference between a virtue and its heroic form that I’d further investigate.

  46. Brooklyn says:

    Have we all become our own Magesterium so that now we can second guess the decisions of the Holy Father? Isn’t this what led to the crisis in the Church in the first place?

    Am I mistaken, Father Z, that the declaration of venerable and the canonization of saints are among those duties of the Holy Father which are declared infallible? [You are mistaken. The Holy Father's promulgation of the Congregation's decree is not an act of the Roman Pontiff teaching infallibly.]

    We either believe Matthew 16:19 (“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed”) or we don’t. If Matthew 16:19 is not true, then we are of all men most miserable.

  47. Hidden One says:

    If there’re two miracles, Ven. Paul VI will be canonized. If God grants the miracles, who are we to complain? Therefore, since we don’t know whether there will be miracles, who are we to complain?

    St. Celestine V, pray for us.

  48. charismatictrad says:

    Perhaps it’s been said before, but in order to compensate for all of the negative comments, I’ll say my .02, too.

    Pope St. Gregory VII, in His Holiness’ “Dictatus Papae,” says that no one shall judge the pope. The essence of Protestantism is that each man becomes his own pope. Unfortunately, some of those in the traditional crowd fall into the error of making themselves their own pope. Just as anti-Catholic Protestants are hyper-judgmental of the Faith, so too are some traditionalists. On the one hand, they say “Hooray for Summorum Pontificum,” while on the other they condemn our Holy Father’s decision to recognize Pope Paul VI as Venerable. On the one hand they say that liberals do not understand Vatican II, but they themselves fail to recognize that the documents of Vatican II did not change the liturgy. I seem to recall hearing that, while addressing an audience, the Venerable Pontiff asked, “What has happened to the liturgy?”

    I consider myself a traditionalist, but I have a tendency to prefer “orthodox” because of the connotations that have been (often times) appropriately attached to traditionalists.

  49. Finarfin says:

    @charismatictrad: Amen! I see things exactly the same way.

  50. Maria says:

    @charismatictrad … I agree with you …

  51. Brooklyn says:

    Father, if what you say is true, “The Holy Father’s promulgation of the Congregation’s decree is not an act of the Roman Pontiff teaching infallibly.” [Yes, what I wrote is true.] then how do we trust when anyone is declared venerable? [You don't have to accept with religious submission of mind and will that this or that person lived a life of heroic virtue.] Are you saying that this is basically a political move and not done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the right to second guess the Pope whenever he declares someone venerable? [You are making this far too complicated.]

  52. MichaelJ says:

    the documents of Vatican II did not change the liturgy

    Then why was the Liturgy changed?

    [This is a rabbit hole.]

  53. MichaelJ says:

    [This is a rabbit hole.] Sorry Father, I should have fleshed it out a bit more.
    The point I was trying to get people to think about was that the Liturgy was changed and was changed by Ven. Paul VI. If he did not do this because of the Vatican II Council, he must have done it for some other reason . This other reason, whatever it was, I would think speaks to his heroic virtue.

  54. Gregory DiPippo says:

    charismatictrad – When the “Dictatus Papae” says that no one shall judge the Pope, it does not prohibit the faithful from holding a reasonable prudential judgment of the goodness or badness of a Pope’s actions. It does not prohibit one from holding the opinion that Alexander VI did very wrong in having several mistresses and seven children, and in covering up the murder of his son John by his son Cesare. Every Catholic is perfectly free to hold and publish these opinions.

    The concern of the Dictatus Papae is a purely legal one, namely, that no one can sit in judgment of the Pope IN LAW. 25 years before Gregory’s election, the thoroughly rotten Benedict IX (a flagrant simoniac) had been effectively deposed by the German Emperor, and Damasus II put in his place. This was the beginning of a new era of reform-minded Popes, a movement strongly supported by Cardinal Hildebrand, the future Gregory VII. Damasus II, St Leo IX and Victor II were all nominated by the Emperor. Having thus effectively sanctioned imperial interference in Papal elections, Gregory then found himself as Pope confronted with Henry IV’s determination to maintain the long-standing abuses of the investiture system in Germany; Henry would eventually try to depose Gregory, and did hound him out of Rome. The concern of the Dictatus Papae therefore was only to assert that IN LAW, even the Emperor could not make himself the judge of the Pope, try, condemn and depose him, notwithstanding the significant role of the Emperor in recent Papal elections. No one is bound by this precept (or rather, by the version of it currently incorporated in the Code of Canon Law) to look at the bad actions of the Pope (take a look at Julius III, e.g.) and say, “The Dictatus Papae forbids me from judging.”

    Only one word more to say, then, on the subject of the virtues, (fortitude, prudence, temperance, justice): Mindszenty.

  55. robtbrown says:

    Phil NL,

    1. No, I don’t think that promulgating the Novus Ordo was an act of imprudence. As I have said here many times, the damage has been done by vernacular versus populum celebration. IMHO, if mass had remained in Latin ad orientem (and Latin Divine Office), even with the Novus Ordo, we wouldn’t have seen the collapse.

    2. We know Paul VI had alternatives because very soon after the election of JPII, certain policies were reversed, among which: The SCDF had been ready for some time to address problem theologians, e.g., Kung, but PVI wouldn’t let them proceed; the persecution of the SSPX ended (“persecution” was used by an unnamed Cardinal; Cardinal Oddi, who was persona non grata with the Montini Papacy, was named to head the Cong of Clergy; a few months after his US trip, JPII replaced Abp Jadot; PVI had no use for Opus Dei or Msgr Escriva, both were embraced by JPII; PVI wanted detente with the Soviets, JPII wanted to defeat them.

    3. I think Paul VI was a good man, but he was out of touch. Upon taking the Fisherman’s Ring, he had plans for the Church. Those plans, however, were based on the continuing existence of the organic structure of discipline in the Church (e.g., Latin). One day he and others looked up, and that structure had collapsed–and they didn’t know what to do. PVI had been burned by his liberal humanist buddies, and he never recovered.

  56. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Gregory DiPippo, thank you for your highly informative historical excourse… I might add that the investiture problem arose later, and when the German king Henry IV, who was neither Roman Emperor nor King of Italy, wanted to investite Milan. (The dictatus papae seems quite interesting from the quarrel-with-Constantinople viewpoint.)

    As to Cardinal Mindszenty (indeed one of the outstanding heroes of both Catholic faith and the Hungarian people), he was sacrificed (if you permit the use of the word) for the sake of what Pope Ven Paul VI sincerly saw as the greater good… Hard to bear? Certainly. Not worth it given the expected outcome? Quite possible. Unjust? I do not think this word can be used, even about a Pope using his power of command to silence a bishop who undoubtably fought for the just cause.

    Dear @robtbrown No. 2 and 3, very interesting.

  57. Philippus says:

    Very interesting. Perhaps the term heroic virtue ought to be redefined every era. The people I know in favor of a Saint Pul VI are those who endorse his encyclicals on contraception and life. On those definitive moral grounds alone, they argue he is a saint fighting contra torrentem. For them, that is where it stops. It is all the heroic virtue they need. I don’t argue that he stood his ground on the debate of the time, but what he did to Cardinal Mindszenty is simply unforgettable. Pope Pius XII acting on moral authority, excommunicated all Nazi-Communist leaders involved in the show trial and torture of the Cardinal. In a complete reversal, Pope VI overturned the excommunications, and tried to force Mindszenty to vacate his seat and retire from being a cardinal. Mindszenty refuses and dies in exile. The cause of his canonization is open. He should be a saint. I just browsed wikipedia, and they have a pretty succinct entry on him.