Finally the moment has arrived Pope Paul VI is going to be beautified, with all the talk about the other Vatican II popes (John 23 and JPII) and all the news coming out about the recent gathering of bishops. Paul VI has gotten lost in the middle of all of this. Paul VI will be Beatified on Sunday at the Vatican as one miracle has been confirmed. Perhaps someday there will be another one and Paul VI will join John 23 and JPII as saints.
For most people of my generation we spent a majority of our lives living with John Paul II as Pope but it is Paul VI that has had the largest impact on our lives. As Paul VI basically fostered Vatican II and symbolically placed the Papal Tiara upon the altar at St. Peter’s as a sign of the renunciation of human glory and power in keeping with the renewed spirit of Vatican II. His Tiara was then donated to The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC where it is kept on display as a gift to all American Catholics. The papacy of Paul VI is when most of the Vatican II Documents came out, and is perhaps best known for a couple of ground breaking Encyclicals Humanae Vitae and Populorum progressio.
Paul VI was born Giovanni Montini in 1897. He was raised in a nice family and went to a Jesuit school, in 1916 Giovanni entered Seminary and by 1922 he was working under Pizzardo in the Roman Curia. in 1939 his friend Eugenio Pacelli became Pope Pius XII and Montini and Tardini were two of his closest allies. As the years went by Montini, Tardini and Pius XII were side by side during WWII and they tried to help as many people as possible. Montini was named Archbishop of Milan in 1954. Montini like working in a parish and interacting with people. Montini told his congregations to love all people including the schismatics, Protestants, Anglicans, the indifferent, Muslims, pagans, atheists. He even wrote friendly letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury after a group of Anglican clergy visited Milan.
While archbishop he became friends with Angelo Roncalli, and it was a lasting one. Roncalli became John XXIII and eventually opened up a Council of which Montini said “This old boy does not know what a hornets nest he is stirring up.” John XXIII wanted the Council to end to coincide with the ending of the Council of Trent, although some believe this was more to do with John 23’s declining health. Montini was am important part of John 23’s Vatican, he was became a cardinal and would travel the world even coming to the US in 1960.
When John XXIII died many people thought that Montini would become the next Pope and that is just what happened Montini became Paul VI. As Pope, Paul VI continued the Council and firmly established what they were going to focus on. Paul VI also did a lot to reform the Church as a whole modifying the Curia as well as the Liturgy significantly. Paul VI was Pope during many years of chaos in the world, but he got a lot done as Pope.