Blessed Pope Paul VI

1963 - 1978

Feastday: September 26

Blessed Pope Paul VI was born as Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini on September 26, 1897 at Concesio (Lombardy) of a wealthy family of the upper class Succeeding Pope John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern 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 the 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, upon his election to the papacy, took the pontifical name Paul VI 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 had 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 fields 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 Saint Ambrose of Milan, he named Mary as the Mother of the Church during the Second 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 often controversial, especially in Western Europe and North America.

His pontificate happened during many significant world events, e.g. the John F. Kennedy assassination only five months after becoming pope, the United States's involvement in the Vietnam War, the millennial anniversary in 1966 of the baptism of Poland for which he was twice denied permission Poland's Communist rulers to visit Poland for, God is dead declarations and Time Magazine's similar question (also in 1966), the related continued decline of organized religion in the developed world, the May 1968 protests in France, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia (also 1968), the continued breakup of the British Empire, the continued Civil Rights Movement in the US (1955–1968), the advent and legalization of the contraceptive pill and abortion, increases in marital breakdown: legal separations, divorces, annulments as well as homosexual rights movements in many developed countries in the wake of their sexual revolutions, and increased crime and drug abuse in these countries.

Paul VI died on 6 August 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration, in Castel Gandolfo, after a period of ill health. According to his will, he was buried in the grottos of the Vatican not in an ornate tomb, but in a grave in the ground as he wished. The diocesan process for the beatification of Paul VI began on 11 May 1993, and so he was given the title "Servant of God". The diocesan process concluded its business in 1998.

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 pontiff had lived a life of heroic virtue, which means that he can now be called "Venerable".

A miracle attributed to the intercession of Paul VI was approved on 9 May 2014 by Pope Francis in an audience with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The beatification ceremony for Paul VI was held on 19 October 2014, which means that he will be called "Blessed".

His liturgical feast day will be celebrated on the date of his birth, 26 September, rather than the day of his death.

Source: Wikipedia: