Pope Paul VI (1963-78)
Who was Pope Paul VI?
Pope Paul VI (Latin: Paulus VI), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978), was the head of the Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Orthodox and Protestants, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.
Montini served in the Vatican's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential co-workers of Pope Pius XII, who in 1954, named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese, while not naming Montini a cardinal, a designation that traditionally accompanies the position; Montini automatically became Secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.
Montini took the name Paul to indicate a renewed worldwide mission to spread the message of Christ. He re-convoked the Second Vatican Council, which was automatically closed with the death of John XXIII, and gave it priority and direction. After the Council 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.
The magnitude and depth of the reforms affecting all areas of Church life during his pontificate exceeded similar reform policies of his predecessors and successors.
Paul VI was a Marian devotee, speaking repeatedly to Marian congresses and mariological meetings, visiting Marian shrines and issuing three Marian encyclicals. Following his famous predecessor Ambrose of Milan, he named Mary as the Mother of the Church during the Vatican Council.
Paul VI sought dialogue with the world, with other Christians, other religions, and atheists, excluding nobody. He saw himself as a humble servant for a suffering humanity and demanded significant changes of the rich in North America and Europe in favour of the poor in the Third World. His positions on birth control (see Humanae Vitae) and other issues were sometimes controversial, especially in Western Europe and North America.
His pontificate took place during many significant world events, e.g. John F. Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, student revolts, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the continued break up of the British Empire, the continued push for civil rights in the U.S. and the advent of the contraceptive pill, legal abortion and homosexual rights movements in many countries in the wake of their sexual revolutions. Paul VI died on 6 August 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration. The diocesan process for beatification of Paul VI began on 11 May 1993, and so he was given the title "Servant of God".
On 20 December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, declared that the late Pope had lived a life of heroic virtue, which means he can be called "Venerable".
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.