The son of a prominent newspaper editor, he was ordained in 1920. Later he did advanced studies in Rome and entered (1922) the Vatican secretariat of state, in which he served for 32 years. After 1944, when Pius XII acted as his own secretary of state, Montini became especially influential as one of the two prosecretaries on whom the pope relied. As archbishop of Milan (1954-63) he showed particular concern with social problems and worked to improve relations between workers and employers. He was created a cardinal in 1958.
Elected pope in June, 1963, Paul immediately demonstrated his intention of continuing the reforms of his predecessor, John XXIII. He reconvened the Second Vatican Council (see Vatican Council, Second) and supervised the carrying out of many of its reforms, such as the vernacularization and reform of the liturgy. With the aim of continuing the work of the council after it ended, he instituted an international synod of bishops, and bishops were instructed to set up councils of priests in their own dioceses. In addition, considerable powers of dispensation were devolved from the Roman Curia onto the bishops, the rules on fasting and abstinence were relaxed, and some of the restrictions on intermarriage were lifted. A commission on canon law revision was also established.International Relations
In 1964, Paul VI made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; he was the first pope in over 150 years to leave Italy. That historic journey was followed by trips to India (1964), the United States (1965), where he addressed the United Nations, and other parts of the world, including Africa (1969) and Southeast Asia (1970). Relations between the Vatican and the Communist world were improved; Communist leaders visited the Vatican for the first time, and in 1971 Cardinal Mindszenty, whose presence in the U.S. embassy in Budapest had long bedeviled church-state relations in Hungary, was finally persuaded to go to Rome.Reassertions of Papal Primacy
The broader international outlook of the Vatican under Paul VI was matched by a new ecumenism. The pope met with the leaders of other churches and addressed (1969) the World Council of Churches, and limited doctrinal agreements were reached with the Anglicans and Lutherans. Such accords, however, did not represent any modification of the papal claim to spiritual leadership of the whole Christian Church, nor of the doctrine of papal infallibility. In fact, Pope Paul issued frequent reassertions of papal primacy in the face of growing dissent within the Roman Catholic Church itself.
In 1968, in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, Paul reaffirmed the church's long-standing ban on contraception. The encyclical, a disappointment to many liberals within the church, raised a storm of protest, and many national hierarchies openly modified the statement. In the ferment that ensued, liberals also raised questions about priestly celibacy, divorce, and the role of women in the church—all issues on which Paul upheld the traditional position of the church. The dispute developed into a real contest of strength between the Vatican and the Dutch hierarchy in particular, which in 1970 endorsed the marriage of priests and the admission of women into the priesthood. The synod of bishops in 1971 supported the pope's stand on priestly celibacy, but a sizable minority were opposed. At the synod of bishops of 1974, assembled to discuss "evangelization in the modern world," Pope Paul disapproved the bishops' proposal for greater autonomy for the local churches.
See his Christian in the Material World (tr. 1963), Dialogues (tr. 1964), The Church (tr. 1964), and The Pope Speaks (tr. 1968). See also W. Wynn, Keepers of the Keys: John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II (1988); J. E. Smith, Humanae Vitae, a Generation Later (1991).
Montini served in the Vatican’s State Department from 1922 to 1954. While in the State Department, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential co-workers of Pope Pius XII, who named him in 1954 Archbishop of the largest Italian dioceses, Milan, a function which made him automatically Secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after his death, Montini was considered the favourite successor. He took on the name Paul, to indicate a renewed world-wide mission to spread the message of Christ. He re-opened the Second Vatican Council, which was automatically closed with the death of John XXIII and gave it both priorities 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 the Roman Catholic Church. 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 pope, 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 to be the Mother of the Church during the Vatican Council. Paul VI sought the dialogue with the world, with other Christians, religions, atheism, excluding nobody. He saw himself as a humble servant for a suffering humanity and demanded significant changes of the rich in American and Europe in favour of the poor in the Third World. His positions on birth control and other issues were controversial in Western Europe and North America, but applauded in Eastern and Southern Europe and Latin America. His pontificate took place during sometimes revolutionary changes in the world, student revolts, the Vietnam War and other upheavals. Paul VI tried to understand it all but at the same time defend the Deposit of Faith as it was entrusted to him. Paul VI died on August 6, 1978, the Feast of Transfiguration. The diocesan process for beatification Paul VI began on May 11, 1993.
Giovanni Battista Montini was born in the village of Concesio, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy. His father Giorgio Montini was a lawyer, Journalist, director of the Catholic Action and member of the Italian Parlament. His mother was Giudetta Alghisi, coming from a familiy of rural nobility. He had two brothers, Francesco Montini, a later physician and Lodovico Montini, a later lawyer and politician. On September 30, 1897, he was baptized in the name of Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini. His education was interrupted by bouts of illness. In 1916, he entered the seminary to become a Roman Catholic priest. He was ordained priest on May 29, 1920 and celebrated his first Holy Mass in Concesio in the Church Madonna delle Gracie which is next to his parental house. Montini concluded his studies in Milan with a doctorate in Canon Law in the same year . Afterwards he studied at the Gregorian University, the University of Rome La Sapienza and, at the request of Giuseppe Pizzardo at the Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici. At the age of twenty-five, again at the request of Giuseppe Pizzardo, Montini entered the Secretariat of State in 1922, where he worked under Pizzardo together with Francesco Borgongini-Duca, Alfredo Ottaviani Carlo Grano, Domenico Tardini and Francis Spellman from the USA.
After his return from Poland, Montini arrived in an Italy with an ascending Fascist Party in the making. He believed the best opposition was a strong faith: He who has faith, prepares for a better time A true Christian must convince in order to win. (Per vincere, deve convincere ) Appointed as University chaplain in 1924 as spiritual and advisor to the Union of Catholic Students of Italy, he frequented Catholic youth organizations and Catholic student groupings, which he spiritually assisted with masses and sermons. He was one of the Vatican prelates with a distinct anti-fascist record. Traveling to Paris, he is said to have met with Jacques Maritain who at that time taught at the Institute Catholique. During the Holy Year in 1925, he worked with Angelo Roncalli who was in charge of an exhibition of artifacts from Catholic missions. It was more edifying than pleasurable, said Montini. Apparently, Montini was not too happy in the Curia, which he found to be “incapable of dealing with ordinary life. He was openly accused of politicizing the Catholic students and the Catholic Action movements and had to defend himself. In 1925, Montini was chaplain to the Catholic Student organization Federazione degli Universitari Cattolici Italiani (FUCI), when the Fascist government outlawed all political parties and groupings, leaving FUCI as a religious organization as the only non-fascist group in Italian universities. FUCI refused to accept members of the fascist party or allied student organizations. However, matters were more complicated for Montini as an employee of the Vatican State Department. The Vatican had negotiated the Lateran Treaty with Benito Mussolini. The treaty ended almost seventy years of proclaimed Papal exile.
Chaplain Montini gave theological lectures on the mystery of the Church, thus avoiding the trappings of politics. He was known to distribute theological books forbidden by the Church at that time. The Fascist press attacked him for politicking, but he was defended by the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano. On January 27, 1930, Montini had his first in-depth meeting with Eugenio Pacelli, his future boss and Pope Pius XII. In the same year, he wrote about Saint Augustine on the 1500th anniversary of his death, stating that the time had come to face a new barbarism. In 1933, he lost his position as chaplain, officially in the words of Pope Pius XI because Monsignore Montini has gifts destined to permit him to render services to the Church on a much higher level.
His organisational skills led him to a career in the Roman Curia, the papal civil service. In 1931, Pacelli appointed him to teach history at the Papal Academy for Diplomats In 1937, after his mentor Giuseppe Pizzardo was named Cardinal and was succeeded by Domenico Tardini, Montini was named Substitute for Ordinary Affairs under Cardinal Pacelli, the Secretary of State under Pope Pius XI. From Pius XI, whom he viewed with awe, he adopted the view, that learning is a life long process, and that history was the magister vitae teacher of life His immediate supervisor in the Vatican was Domenico Tardini, with whom he got along well. The election of Pacelli to the papacy in 1939, anticipated by everybody and openly promoted by the late Pope Pius XI in his last years, was a good omen for Montini, whose position was confirmed in the position under the new Secretary of State Luigi Maglione. He met the Pope every morning until 1954 and thus developed a rather close relation:
As war broke out, Maglione, Tardini and Montini were the main figures in the Vatican’s State Department, as despatches originated from or addressed to them during the war years. Montini was in charge of taking care of the ordinary affairs of the Secretariat of State, which took much of the mornings of every working day. In the afternoon he moved to the third floor into the Office of the Private Secretary of the Pontiff. Pius XII did have a personal secretary. As did several popes before him, he delegated the secretarial functions to the State Secretariat. During the war years, thousands of letters from all parts of the world arrived at the desk of the pope, most of them asking for understanding, prayer and help. Montini was tasked to formulate the replies in the name of Pius XII, expressing his empathy, and understanding and providing help, where possible. At the request of the pope, he created an information office for prisoners of war and refugees, which in the years of its existence from 1939 until 1947 received almost ten million (9.891.497) information requests and produced over eleven million (11.293.511) answers about missing persons. Montini was several times openly attacked by the Mussolini government as a politician, and meddling in politics, but each time he found powerful defenses by the Vatican In 1944,Luigi Maglione died, and Pius XII appointed Tardini and Montini together as heads of the State Department. Montini’s admiration was almost filial, when he described Pope Pius XII:
His richly cultivated mind, his unusual capacity for thought and study led him to avoid all distractions and every unnecessary relaxation. He wished to enter fully into the history of his own afflicted time: with a deep understanding, that he was himself a part of that history. He wished to participate fully in it, to share his sufferings in his own heart and soul.
At the request of the pope, together with Pascalina Lehnert Ferdinando Baldelli and Otto Faller he created the Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza, which aided large number of Romans and refugees from everywhere with shelter, food and other material assistance. In Rome alone this organization distributed almost two million portions of free food in the year 1944. The Vatican and the Papal Residence Castel Gandolfo were opened to refugees. Some 15.000 persons lived in Castel Gandolfo alone, supported by the Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza, At the request of Pius XII, Montini was also involved in the re-establishment of Church Asylm, providing protection to hundreds of Allied soldiers, who had escaped from Axis prison camps, Jews, anti-Fascists, Socialists, Communists, and after the liberation of Rome, German soldiers, partisans and other displaced persons. After the war and later as Pope, Montini turned the Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza, into the major Catholic Italian charity, Caritas Italiana
After the death of Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster in 1954, Montini was appointed to the most senior Italian church post of Archbishop of Milan, which made him automatically the speaker of the Italian Bishop Conference. Pope Pius XII presented the new Archbishop Giovanni Battista Montini as his personal gift to Milan. Both had tears in their eyes when Montini parted for his dioceses with 1000 churches, 2 500 priests and 3 500 000 souls. He was consecrated in Saint Peter's Basilica by Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, the Dean of the College of Cardinals , since Pius XII was forced to stay in bed due to his severe illness. The Pope however, delivered the sermon about Giovanni Batista Montini from his sick-bed over radio to the many faithful assembled in St. Peter's on December 12, 1954. On January 6, 1955, Montini formally took possession of his Cathedral of Milan. Pius XII who always wanted to be a pastor rather than a Vatican bureaucrat, gladly granted Montini this opportunity which was denied to him. Montini after a period of preparation, liked his new tasks as archbishop, connecting to all groups of faithful in Milan. He enjoyed meetings with intellectuals, artists and writers.
In his first months he showed his interest in working conditions and labour issues by personally contacting unions, associations and giving related speeches. Believing that churches are the only non-utilitarian buildings in modern society and a most necessary place of spiritual rest, he initiated over 100 new Church buildings for service and contemplation. His public speeches were noticed not only in Milan but also in Rome and elsewhere. Some considered him a liberal, when he asked lay people to love not only Catholics but also schismatics, Protestants, Anglicans, the indifferent, Moslems, pagans, atheists. Contrary to Church teachings from Pope Leo XIII (and later John Paul II and Benedict XVI) which regarded Anglican Clergy as unequal in light of their lack of apostolic succession, Archbishop Montini simply ignored this aspect altogether during a visit of Anglican clergy in Milan in 1957 and a subsequent exchange of letters with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher.
He did not receive the traditional red hat of a cardinal during the remaining four years of Pius XII's life, which has occasioned comment. To be sure, Montini was not alone. Because there was no consistory after the severe illness of Pope Pius XII in 1954, several archbishops who could expect the honor (because of tradition and the importance of their archdiocese) did not get the red hat during Pius' reign. In addition to Montini, these included John Francis O'Hara of Philadelphia, Richard Cushing of Boston, Franz König of Vienna, Godfrey of Westminster, Antonio María Barbieri of Montevideo, Alfonso Castaldo of Naples and Paul Marie André Richaud of Bordeaux. Pope Pius XII revealed at the 1953 consistory that two churchmen, known to be Montini and Tardini, whom he did not name, were at the top of his list but turned it down. When Tardini, in the name of both of them, thanked him for not appointing him, Pius XII replied with a smile: 'Monsignore mio, you thank me, for not letting me do what I wanted to do'. I replied, 'yes Holy Father, I thank you for everything you have done for me, but even more, what you have not done for me'. The Pope smiled. Montini and Angelo Roncalli were considered friends, but when John XXIII announced a new Ecumenical Council, Cardinal Montini reacted with disbelief: This old boy does not know, what a hornets nest he is stirring up. He was appointed to the Central Preparatory Commission in 19612. During the Council, his friend Pope John XXIII asked him to live in the Vatican. He was a member of the Commission for Extraordinary Affairs but did not engage himself much into the floor debates on various issues. His main advisor was Monsignore Giovanni Colombo, whom he later appointed to be his successor in Milan The Commission was greatly overshadowed by the insistence of John XXIII, to have the Council complete all its work in one single session before Christmas 1962, to the 400th anniversary of the Council of Trent, an insistence which may have also been influenced by the Pope's recent knowledge that he had cancer.
Montini went new ways in pastoral care, which he reformed. He used his authority to ensure that the liturgical reforms of Pius XII were actually carried out at the local level During his period in Milan, Montini was known as one of the more progressive members of the Catholic hierarchy. Montini used innovative methods to reach the people of the biggest Italian city, Milan: Huge posters announced that 1000 voices would speak to them from November 10 to November 24, 1957. More than 500 priests, a number of bishops, cardinals and lay persons delivered 7000 sermons in the period not only in churches but in factories, meeting halls, houses, court-yards, schools, offices, military barracks, hospitals, hotels and other places, where people meet. His goal was the re-introduction of faith to a city without much religion. If only we can say Our Father and know what this means, then we would understand the Christian faith Montini recognized that Western Europe had become mission country again and was not too optimistic about the outcome of this massive undertaking. But for all his dedication to regular working people, Montini was also a man of letters, favouring classic Italian writers like Alessandro Manzoni's I Promessi Sposi, which to him, was almost a gospel of Christianity.
Pius XII asked Archbishop Montini to Rome October 1957, where he gave the main presentation to the Second World Congress of Lay Apostolate. Previously as Pro-Secretary, he had worked hard to unify a world-wide organization of lay people of 58 nations, representing 42 national organizations. He presented to them to Pius XII in Rome in 1951. The second meeting in 1957 gave Montini an opportunity to express the lay apostolate in very modern terms: Apostolate means love. We will love all, but especially those, who need help. ..We will love our time, our technology, our art, our sports, our world.
Although some cardinals seem to have viewed him as papabile (a person who might succeed Pope Pius), and although he seems to have received some votes in 1958, Montini was not a member of the College of Cardinals and thus was not a serious candidate at that particular conclave. Instead Angelo Roncalli was elected pope and assumed the name Pope John XXIII. On November 17, 1958, less than three weeks after the election of the new pope, the L'Osservatore Romano announced a consistory for the creation of new cardinals. Montini's name topped the list. The new pope raised Montini to the cardinalate in December 15, 1958. He appointed him simultaneously to several Vatican congregations which resulted in a number of visits by Montini to Rome in the coming years. As Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, Montini participated now in the government of the whole Church, which resulted in journeys to Africa (1962), where he visited Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, Congo Rhodesia South Africa, and Nigeria. Later, he was to be the first pope to have visited Africa. After his journey, John XXIII gave him a private audience on his trip which lasted for hours. In fifteen other trips he visited Brazil(1960) and the USA (1960), including New York, Washington, Chicago, Notre Dame University in Indiana, Boston Philadelphia and Baltimore. The cardinal spent his vacations usually in a reclusive Benedictine monastery Engelberg Abbey in Switzerland.
Montini was generally seen as the most likely successor to Pope John because of his closeness to Pius XII and John XXIII, his pastoral and administrative background, and his insight and determination. John, a newcomer to the Vatican at age 77, may have felt outflanked by the professional Vatican Curia at times, Montini knew its most inner workings rather well. Unlike the papabile cardinals from Bologna and Genoa, he was not identified with either the left or right, nor was he seen as a radical reformer. He was viewed as most likely to continue the Second Vatican Council, which already, without any tangible results, had lasted longer than anticipated by Pope John, who had a vision but did not have a clear agenda. ´His rhetoric seems to have had a note of over-optimism, a confidence in progress, which was characteristic of the 1960s. When John XXIII died of stomach cancer on June 3, 1963, Montini was elected to the papacy in the following conclave and took the name Paul VI.
Paul knew what was coming. He writes in his journal: "The position is unique. It brings great solitude. I was solitary before, but now my solitude becomes complete and awesome. But he was not afraid of this new solitude which expected him. He recognized that it would be futile to seek much outside help, or to confide everything to others. He saw himself as alone, with God. The communication with him must be full and incommensurable.
The new Pope had to fight against the larger than life image of his predecessor, which was not even correct. In his lifetime, Pope John was probably the most beloved Pope of the 20th century. His death magnified him beyond human dimensions. But his main project, Vatican II had been a failure, because it did not produce nor end within the one session as anticipated by the late Pope. Paul VI was no John XXIII. John was viewed as an easy-going jolly liberal, which he was absolutely not according to Paul VI, who stated that Pope John was much more conservative and traditional than me.
Paul did away with much of the regal splendor of the papacy. He was the last pope to date to be crowned; his successor Pope John Paul I replaced the Papal Coronation (which Paul had already substantially modified, but which he left mandatory in his 1975 apostolic constitution Romano Pontifici Eligendo) with a Papal Inauguration. Paul VI donated his own Papal Tiara, a gift from his former Archdiocese of Milan, to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. (where is it on permanent display in the Crypt) as a gift to American Catholics. In 1968, with the motu proprio Pontificalis Domus, he discontinued most of the ceremonial functions of the old Roman nobility at the papal court, save for the Prince Assistants to the Papal Throne. He also abolished the Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard, leaving the Swiss Guard as the sole military order of the Vatican.
Paul VI decided to continue Vatican II (canon law dictates that a council is suspended at the death of a pope), and brought it to completion in 1965. Faced with conflicting interpretations and controversies, he directed the implementation of its reform goals, which included the largest revision to the Church's Liturgy since the Council of Trent (held 400 years prior to Vatican II), until his death in 1978.
After his election as Bishop of Rome, Paul VI first met with the priests in his new dioceses. He told them that in Milan he started a dialogue with the modern world and asked them to seek contact with all people from all walks of life. Six days after his election he announced that he would continue Vatican II and convened the opening to take place on September 29, 1963. In a radio address to the world, Paul VI recalled the uniqueness of predecessors, the strength of Pius XI, the wisdom and intelligence of Pius XII and the love of John XXIII. As his pontifical goals he mentioned the continuation and completion of Vatican II, the reform of the Canon Law and improved social peace and justice in the world. The Unity of Christianity would be central to his activities.
The pope re-opened the Council 29 September 1963 giving it four priorities:
He reminded the council fathers that only a few years earlier Pope Pius XII had issued the encyclical Mystici Corporis about the mystical body of Christ. He asked them not to repeat or create new dogmatic definitions but to explain in simple words how the Church sees itself. He thanked the representatives of other Christian communities for their attendance and asked for their forgiveness if the Catholic Church is guilty for the separation. He also reminded the Council Fathers that a number of bishops from the east could not attend because the governments in the East did not permit their journeys. The Council discussed the texts on the Church, ecumenicism and liturgy. He told the assembled fathers that he intended to visit the Holy Land, where no other pope had been since Peter.
Between the third and fourth sessions the Pope announced reforms in the areas of Roman Curia, revision of Canon Law, regulations for mixed marriages involving several faiths, and birth control issues. He opened the final session of the council, concelebrating with bishops from countries where the Church was persecuted. Several texts proposed for his approval had to be changed. But all texts were finally agreed upon. The Council was concluded on December 8, 1965, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Reform of the liturgy had been a part of the liturgical movements in the 20th century mainly in France, Robert Schumann, and Germany, Romano Guardini, which were officially recognized by Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei. During the pontificate of Pius XII, the Vatican eased regulations on the use of Latin in Roman Catholic liturgies, permitting some use of vernacular languages during baptisms, funerals and other events. In 1951 and 1955, the Easter liturgies underwent revision, most notably including the reintroduction of the Easter Triduum. The Second Vatican Council then went on to mandate a general revision of the Roman Missal. In April 1969, Paul VI approved the "new Order of Mass" (promulgated in 1970), which included many substantial revisions and changes, such as the introduction of three new Eucharistic Prayers to what was up to then a single Roman Canon, the suppression of long standing prayers such as the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and Last Gospel, the reintroduction of prayers that had fallen into disuse, such as the Prayer of the Faithful, and approval for the use of the vernacular languages. There had been other instructions issued by the Pope in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1970 which centered on the reform of all liturgies of the Roman Church These major reforms were not welcomed by all and in all countries. The sudden apparent "outlawing" of the 400 year old Mass, the last typical edition of which being promulgated only a few years earlier in 1962 by Paul's predecessor, Pope John XXIII, was not always explained well. Further experimentation with the new Mass by liturgists, such as the usage of pop/folk music (as opposed to the Gregorian Chant advocated by Pope Pius X), along with concurrent changes in the order of sanctuaries, was viewed by some as vandalism. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI clarified that the these two Masses, the 1962 Mass of John XXIII and the 1970 Mass of Paul VI are, in fact, two forms of the same Roman Rite, the first being an "extraordinary form" that had never been "juridically abrogated," the second being the "ordinary form."
To Paul VI, a dialogue with all of humanity was essential not as an aim in itself but as a means to find the truth. Dialogue according to Paul, is based on full equality of all participants. This equality is rooted in the common search for the truth Paul said: Those who have the truth, are in a position as not having it, because they are forced to search for it every day in a deeper and more perfect way. Those who do not have it, but search for it with their whole heart, have already found it.
Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit six continents, and was the most travelled pope in history to that time, earning the nickname the Pilgrim Pope. With his travels he opened new avenues for the papacy, which were continued by his successors John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He traveled to the Holy Land in 1964, to the Eucharistic Congresses on Bombay, India and Bogota, Colombia. Fifty years after the first apparition he visited Fatima in 1967. He undertook a pastoral visit to Africa in 1969. In 1970 he was the target of an assassination attempt at Manila International Airport in the Philippines. The assailant was subdued. On the Pope's first visit to the United States in October 1965, Paul in the middle of the Vietnam War, pleaded for peace before the United Nations.
Pope Paul VI sent one of 73 Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages to NASA for the historic first lunar landing. The message still rests on the lunar surface today. It has Psalms 8 and the Pope has written, “To the Glory of the name of God who gives such power to men, we ardently pray for this wonderful beginning.”
Pope Paul VI made extensive contributions to mariology (theological teaching and devotions) during his pontificate. He attempted to present the Marian teachings of the Church in view of her new ecumenical orientation. In his inaugural encyclical Ecclesiam Suam (section below), the Pope called Mary the ideal of Christian perfection. He regards “devotion to the Mother of God as of paramount importance in living the life of the Gospel.” In 1965, he writes that the Queen of Heaven is entrusted by God, as administrator of his compassion In his 1965 encyclical Mense Maio he described Mary as the way to Christ, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ likewise. In his 1966 encyclical Christi Matri, he recommends the rosary in light of the Vietnam War and the dangers of atomic conflicts. The Queen of Peace and Mother of the Church should be invoked:
The rosary is a summary of gospel teaching. His new Missal includes all new Marian prayers. And in his 1974 exhortation Marialis Cultus, he again promotes Marian devotions, highlighting the Angelus and Rosary prayers. Mary deserves the devotions because she is the mother of graces and because of her unique role in redemption.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the apparition in Fatima, Paul VI made a pilgrimage there, the first ever by a Pope. There, he linked the veneration of Mary to her role in the salvation of the human race Pope Paul VI was a engaged and engaging devotee of the Virgin Mary
Ecclesiam Suam was given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 1964, the second year of his Pontificate. It is considered an important document, identifying the Catholic Church with the Body of Christ. A later Council document Lumen Gentium stated that the Church subsists in the Body of Christ, raising questions as to the difference between "is" and "subsists in". Paul VI appealed to all people of good will and discussed necessary dialogues within the Church and between the Churches and with atheism.
Mysterium Fidei On September 3, 1965, Paul VI issued Mysterium Fidei, on the mystery of the faith. He opposed relativistic notions which would have given the eucharist a symbolic character only. The Church, according to Paul VI, has no reason to give up the deposit of faith in such a vital matter. Sacerdotalis Caelibatus Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (Latin for "Of the celibate priesthood"), promulgated on 24 June 1967, defends the Catholic Church's tradition of priestly celibacy in the West. This encyclical was written in the wake of Vatican II, when the Catholic Church was questioning and revising many long-held practices. Priestly celibacy is considered a discipline rather than dogma, and some at the time had expected that it might be relaxed. In response to these questions, the Pope reaffirms the discipline as a long-held practice with special importance in the Catholic Church. The encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus from June 24, 1967, confirms the traditional Church teaching, that celibacy is an ideal state and continues to be mandatory for Roman Catholic priests. Celibacy symbolizes the reality of the kingdom of God in the midst of modern society. The priestly celibacy is closely linked to the nature of the sacramental priesthood. However, during his pontificate Paul VI was considered generous in permitting bishops to grant laicization of priests who wanted to leave the sacerdotal state, a position which was drastically reversed by John Paul II in 1980 and cemented in the 1983 Canon Law that only the pope himself can in exceptional circumstances grant laicization. Populorum Progressio
Populorum progressio, released on 26 March 1967, dealt with the topic of "the development of peoples" and that the economy of the world should serve mankind and not just the few. It touches on a variety of traditional principles of Catholic social teaching: the right to a just wage; the right to security of employment; the right to fair and reasonable working conditions; the right to join a union and strike as a last resort; and the universal destination of resources and goods.
In addition, Populorum Progressio opines that real peace in the world is conditional on justice. He repeats his demands expressed in Bombay in 1964 for a large scale World Development Organization, as a matter of international justice and peace. He rejected notions to instigate revolution and force in changing economic conditions. Humanæ Vitae Of his eight encyclicals, Pope Paul VI is best known for his encyclical Humanæ Vitæ (Of Human Life, subtitled On the Regulation of Birth), published on July 25, 1968. In this encyclical he reaffirmed the Catholic Church's traditional view of marriage and marital relations and a continued condemnation of artificial birth control. There were two Papal committees and numerous independent experts looking into the latest advancement of science and medicine on the question of artificial birth control, . which were noted by the Pope in his encyclical The expressed views of Paul VI reflected the teachings of his predecessors, especially Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII and never changed, as he repeatedly stated them in the first few years of his Pontificate
To the Pope as to all his predecessors, marital relations are much more than a union of two people. They constitute a union of the loving couple with a loving God, in which the two persons create a new person materially, while God completes the creation by adding the soul. For this reason, Paul VI teaches in the first sentence of Humanae Vitae that the transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. This divine partnership, according to Paul VI, does not allow for arbitrary human decisions, which may limit divine providence. The Pope does not paint an overly romantic picture of marriage: marital relations are a source of great joy, but also of difficulties and hardships. The question of human procreation exceeds in the view of Paul VI specific disciplines such as biology, psychology, demography or sociology. The reason for this, according to Paul VI, is that married love takes its origin from God, who "is love". From this basic dignity, he defines his position:
The reaction to the encyclical's continued prohibitions of artificial birth control was very mixed. In Italy, Spain, Portugal and Poland, the encyclical was welcomed. In Latin America, much support developed for the Pope and his encyclical. As World Bank President Robert McNamara declared at the 1968 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group that countries permitting birth control practices would get preferential access to resources, doctors in La Paz, Bolivia called it insulting that money should be exchanged for the conscience of a Catholic nation. In Colombia, Cardinal archbishop Anibal Muñoz Duque declared, if American conditionality undermines Papal teachings, we prefer not to receive one cent. The Senate of Bolivia passed a resolution stating that Humanæ Vitæ could be discussed in its implications for individual consciences, but was of greatest significance because the papal document defended the rights of developing nations to determine their own population policies. The Jesuit Journal Sic dedicated one edition to the encyclical with supportive contributions.
Pope Paul was concerned but not surprised by the negative reaction in Western Europe and the United States. He fully anticipated this reaction to be a temporary one: "Don't be afraid," he reportedly told Edouard Gagnon on the eve of the encyclical, "in twenty years time they'll call me a prophet." His biography on the Vatican's website notes of his reaffirmations of priestly celibacy and the traditional teaching on contraception that "[t]he controversies over these two pronouncements tended to overshadow the last years of his pontificate". Pope John Paul II later reaffirmed and expanded upon Humanæ Vitæ with the encyclical Evangelium Vitae, and, Pope Benedict XVI issued in 2005 a short version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which also repeat the teachings of the Church on this matter.
Paul VI visited the Orthodox Patriarchs of Jerusalem and Constantinople in 1964 and 1967. He was the first pope since the ninth century to visit the East, labeling the Eastern Churches as sister Churches. He was also the first pope in centuries to meet the heads of various Eastern Orthodox faiths. Notably, his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I in 1964 in Jerusalem led to rescinding the excommunications of the Great Schism, which took place in 1054.
This was a significant step towards restoring communion between Rome and Constantinople. It produced the Catholic-Orthodox Joint declaration of 1965, which was read out on December 7, 1965, simultaneously at a public meeting of the Second Vatican Council in Rome and at a special ceremony in Istanbul. The declaration did not end the schism, but showed a desire for greater reconciliation between the two churches. In May 1973, the Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III of Alexandria visited the Vatican, where he met three times with Pope Paul VI. A common declaration and a joint Creed issued at the conclusion of the visit demonstrated that there are virtually no more theological discrepancies between the Coptic and Roman Catholic Churches.
Paul was the first pope to receive an Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey in official audience as Head of Church , after the private audience visit of Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher to Pope John XXIII on December 2, 1960. Ramsey met Paul three times during his visit and opened the Anglican Center in Rome with the purpose of increasing their mutual knowledge. He praised Paul VI and his contributions in the service of unity. Paul replied that by entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you The two Church leaders signed a common declaration, which put an end to the disputes of the past and outlined a common agenda for the future. Cardinal Augustin Bea, the head of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity added at the end of the visit, Let us move forward in Christ. God wants it. Humanity is waiting for it. Unmoved by a harsh condemnation by the Congregation of Faith on mixed marriages precisely at this time of the visit, Paul VI and Ramsey appointed a preparatory commission which was to put the common agenda into practice on such issues as mixed marriages. This resulted in a joint Malta declaration, the first ever joint agreement on the Creed since the reformation. Paul VI was a good friend of the Anglican Church, which he described as "our beloved sister Church", a description not allowed later by John Paul II. In Dominus Jesus and Benedict XVI. denied Church character to Anglican and Protestant churches because of an absence of apostolic succession.
In 1965, Paul VI decided on the creation of a joint working group with the World Council of Churches in order to map all possible avenues of dialogue and cooperation. In the following three years, eight sessions were held which resulted in a number of joint proposals. It was proposed to work closely together in areas of social justice and development and Third World Issues such as hunger and poverty. On the religious side, it was agreed to share together in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to be held every year. The joint working group was to prepare texts which were to be used by all Christians. On July 19, 1968, the meeting of the World Council of Churches took place in Uppsala, Sweden, which Pope Paul called a sign of the times. He sent his blessing in an ecumenical manner: May the Lord bless everything you do for the case of Christian Unity The World Council of Churches decided on including Catholic Theologians in its committees, provided they have the backing of the Vatican.
The Lutherans were the first Christian Church offering a dialogue to the Catholic Church in September 1964 in Reykjavik, Iceland. It resulted in joint study groups of several issues. The dialogue with the Methodist Church began October 1965, after its representatives officially applauded remarkable changes, friendship and cooperation of the past five years. The Reformed Churches entered four years later into a dialogue with the Catholic Church. The President of the Lutheran World Federation and member of the central committee of the World Council of Churches Fredrik A. Schiotz stated during the 450th anniversary of the Reformation, that in the past, commemorations were viewed almost as a triumph. Reformation should be celebrated as a thanksgiving to God, his truth and his renewed life. He welcomed the announcement of Pope Paul VI to celebrate the 1900 anniversary of the death of the Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul, and promised the participation and cooperation in the festivities.
Paul VI actively supported the new-found harmony and cooperation with Protestants on so many levels. When Cardinal Augustin Bea went to see him for permission for a joint Catholic-Protestant translation of the Bible with Protestant Bible societies, the Pope walked towards him and exclaimed, as far as the cooperation with Bible societies is concerned, I am totally in favour He issued a formal approval on Pentecost 1967, the feast on which the Holy Spirit descended on the Christians, overcoming all linguistic difficulties, according to Christian tradition.
Up to and including the current Pope Benedict XVI, all of Pope Paul's successors were created cardinals by him. His immediate successor, Albino Cardinal Luciani, who took the name John Paul I, was created a cardinal in the consistory of March 5, 1973. Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, created a cardinal in the consistory of June 26, 1967. Joseph Ratzinger was created a cardinal in the small four-appointment consistory of June 27, 1977, which included also Bernardin Gantin from Africa. This became the last of Paul VI's consistories before his death in August 1978.
With the six consistories, Paul VI continued the internationalization policies started by Pius XII in 1946 and continued by John XXIII. In his 1976 consistory, five of twenty cardinals originated from Africa, one of them a son of a tribal chief with fifty wives. Several prominent Latin Americans like Eduardo Francisco Pironio of Argentina; Eugênio de Araújo Sales and Aloisio Lorscheider from Brazil were also elevated by him. There were voices within the Church at the time, that the European period of the Church was coming to a close, a view shared by Britain's Cardinal Basil Hume. At the same time, the members of the College of Cardinals lost some of their previous influences, after Paul VI decreed, that not only cardinals but also bishops too may participate in committees of the Roman Curia. The age limit of eighty years imposed by the Pope, a numerical increase of Cardinals by almost 100%, and a reform of the regal vestments of the "Princes of the Church" further contributed to a service oriented perception of Cardinals under his pontificate. The increased number of Cardinals from the Third World and the papal emphasis on related issues was welcomed by many in Western Europe nevertheless.
On March 16, 1978, his friend from FUCI student days Aldo Moro, a Christian Democratic politician, was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, which kept the pope in suspense for 55 days. On April 20, Moro directly appealed to the Pope to intervene as Pope Pius XII had intervened in the case of Professor Giuliano Vassalli in the same situation The eighty-year old Pope wrote a eloquent letter to the Red Brigades:
Some in the Italian government accused the old pope for treating the Red Brigades overly nice. The Pope went on looking for ways to pay ransom for Moro but to no avail. On May 9, the bullet riddled body of Aldo Moro was found in a car in Rome. Pope Paul VI left the Vatican to go to the Papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo on July 14, 1978, visiting on the way the tomb of Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo who had introduced him to the Vatican half a century earlier. Although sick, he agreed to see the new Italian President Sandro Pertini for over two hours. In the evening he watched a Western on TV, getting happy only when he saw horses, the most beautiful animals, that God had created He had breathing problems and needed oxygen. Next day, Sunday the Feast of Transfiguration he was tired, but wanted to say the Angelus. He was not able or permitted to and stayed in bed, his temperature rising.
From his bed he participated in Sunday Mass at 6 P.M. After communion, the pope suffered a massive heart attack, after which he kept on fighting on for three hours. On August 6, 1978 at 9.41 P.M., Pope Paul VI died at Castel Gandolfo. Paul VI is buried beneath the floor of Saint Peter's Basilica with the other popes. In his will, he requested to be buried in the "true earth" and therefore, he does not have an ornate sarcophagus but an in-ground grave.
The pontificate of Paul VI continued the opening and internationalization of the Church started under Pius XII. He implementated the reforms of John XXIII and Vatican II. Yet, unlike these popes, Paul VI faced criticism throughout his papacy from both traditionalists and liberals for steering a middle course during Vatican Two and in the course of the implementation of its reforms thereafter. He expressed a desire for peace during the Vietnam War. This was not understood by all. The perceived duty of overcoming World poverty and start development in third world countries resulted partly in benign neglect of papal teachings by the influential and the rich. On basic Church teachings, the pope was unwavering. On the tenth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, he reconfirmed this teaching. In his style and methodology, he was a disciple of Pius XII, whom he deeply revered. He suffered for the attacks on Pius XII for his alleged silences during the Holocaust, knowing from personal association with the late Pope his real compassion. Pope Paul suffered in comparison with his predecssors. He was not credited with an encyclopedic memory, nor a gift for languages, nor a brilliant writing style of Pius XII, nor did he have the Charisma and outpouring love, sense of humor and human warmth of John XXIII. He took on himself the unfinished reform work of these two popes, bringing them diligently with great humility and common sense and without much fanfare to conclusion. In doing so, Paul VI saw himself following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, torn to several directions as Saint Paul , who said, "I am attracted to two sides at once, because the Cross always divides.
The new theological freedoms, which he fostered – unlike his predecessors and successors, Paul VI refused to excommunicate – resulted in a pluralism of opinions and uncertainties among the faithful He admonished but did not punish those with other views. New demands were voiced, which were taboo at the Council, the reintegration of divorced Catholics, the sacramental character of the confession, and the role of women in the Church and its ministries. Conservatives complained, that women wanted to be priests, priests wanted to get married, bishops regional popes and theologians claimed absolute teaching authority. Protestants claimed equality, homosexuals and divorced called for full acceptance. Changes such as the reorientation of the liturgy, alterations to the ordinary of the Mass, alterations to the liturgical calendar, and the relocation of the tabernacle were controversial among some Catholics.
Being concerned with the modern world as a whole and not with a Roman-Catholic sacristy perspective, Paul VI did renounce many traditional symbols of the papacy and the Catholic Church. Some of the changes Paul VI made to the Papal dress were reversed by Pope Benedict XVI in the early 21st century. Refusing to be the prisoner of a Vatican army of colourful military uniforms from centuries, he got rid of them. He became the first Pope to visit five continents. Paul VI systematically continued and completed the efforts of his predecessors, to turn the Euro-centric Church into a Church of the world, by integrating the bishops from all continents in its government and in the Synods which he convened. His August 6 1967 Motu Proprio Pro Comperto Sane opened the Roman Curia to the bishops of the world. Until then, only Cardinals could be leading members of the Curia.
Some critiqued Paul’s decision, the newly created Synod of Bishops had an advisory role only and could not make decisions on their own, although the Council decided exactly that. During the pontificate of Paul VI, five such synods took place, and he is on record of implementing all their decisions. Related questions were raised about the new National Bishop Conferences, which became mandatory after Vatican II. Others questioned his Ostpolitik and contacts with Communism and the deals he engaged in for the faithful.
The pope clearly suffered from the responses within the Church to Humanae Vitae. While most regions and bishops supported the Pontiff, a small but important part of them especially in Holland, Canada, and Germany openly disagreed with the Pope, which deeply wounded him for the rest of his life When Cardinal O'Boyle, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., disciplined several priests for publicly dissenting from this teaching, the pope gave him encouragement.
According to some sources, as Paul became increasingly ill, he spoke of possibly abdicating the papal throne and going into retirement, provided he cannot fulfil the duties of the papacy in the fullest. His position mirrors identical statements attributed to Pius XI a Pope may suffer but he must be able to function and, repeatedly by Pius XII to the same effect. Pope Paul reflecting on the description of Hamlet wrote in a private note in 1978 about himself:
This inner joy seems to have been a characteristic of Paul VI. His confessor, the Jesuit Paolo Dezza, arrived at the Vatican every Friday evening at seven P.M to hear confession of Paul VI. The only words he ever spoke about his long service to Paul VI during his pontificate were, that this pope is a man of great joy. After the death of Pope Paul VI, Dezza was more outspoken, saying that "if Paul VI was not a saint, when he was elected Pope, he became one during his pontificate. I was able to witness not only with what energy and dedication he toiled for Christ and the Church but also and above all, how much he suffered for Christ and the Church. I always admired not only his deep inner resignation but also his constant abandonment to divine providence." . It is this character trait, which led to the opening of the process of beatification and canonization for Paul VI.