Pope Paul VI

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After the death of John XXIII, Pope Paul VI (born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini) occupied the papal office. From June 21, 1963, until his death on August 6, 1978, he served as pontiff. He was born into a wealthy household and began his education at a Jesuit institution. In 1916, when he was between 18 and 19 years old, he entered the seminary to become a Catholic priest. In Brescia, he was designated a priest four years later. Later that year, he obtained his doctorate in Canon Law. After completing his education, Montini joined the State Secretariat and subsequently co-founded the Brescia-based publishing company Morcelliana. He began his Vatican tenure in the Holy See’s diplomatic service. His administrative abilities led to a prosperous tenure in the Roman Curia. After the death of the Benedictine Cardinal Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster in 1954, Montini was designated Milan’s archbishop. John XXIII appointed him Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Silvestro and Martino ai Monti in December 1958. His contributions to the Catholic Church made him John XXIII’s likely successor. Following his election, he continued the work of the Second Vatican Council. He took an active role in interpreting and carrying out its directives. Paul VI ushered in revolutionary reforms that benefited people from all aspects of life. Following his demise, he has been recognized as a saint in accordance with normative procedures.

Youth and Early Life

Montini was born in Concesio, Brescia, Kingdom of Italy on September 26, 1897, to Giorgio Montini and Giudetta Alghisi. Giorgio was a multitalented individual. He was both a journalist and an attorney. He was also the director of Catholic Action and a member of the Italian Parliament. Giudetta was a member of a rural noble household. They also had two other sons, Francesco Montini, who became a doctor, and Lodovico Montini, who became a lawyer and politician.

Montini was baptized shortly after his birth. He attended the Jesuit Cesare Arici School for his education. He was a frail child who was frequently unable to attend school due to illness. In 1916, he graduated from Brescia’s Arnaldo da Brescia public school.

He quickly enrolled in a Catholic seminary to become a priest. In his hometown, he was designated a priest on May 29, 1920. In 1920, he also completed his doctorate in Canon Law. Then he attended Gregorian University, La Sapienza the University of Rome, and Accademia dei Nobili Ecclesiastici.

Now that he had completed his education, he decided to join the State Department and serve under his longtime mentor Giuseppe Pizzardo. Consequently, Montini was never required to serve as a parish clergyman. In 1925, he helped establish the publishing house Morcelliana in his birthplace, which emphasized the dissemination of “Christian-inspired culture.”

Employment at the Vatican

Montini began his tenure at the Vatican in 1923 as a secretary in the Holy See’s diplomatic service. He was assigned to the papal nuncio’s office in Poland, where he encountered the negative aspects of nationalism. Later, he would describe his time in the country as “useful but not always joyful.” After assuming the papal office, the communist government denied him entry into the country.

Prior to joining the Roman Curia, the papal civil service, Montini had established a reputation for his organizational abilities, which served him well. Eugenio Pacelli, who would later become Pope Pius XII, appointed him as a history professor in 1931.

In 1937, he was appointed as the Substitute for Ordinary Affairs, allowing him to operate directly under Secretary of State Cardinal Pacelli. Pacelli appointed Montini as Substitute under the new Cardinal Secretary of State, Luigi Maglione, after becoming Pope in 1939. After that, he worked closely with the pontiff until 1954.

At the onset of World War II, Montini emerged as one of the most influential figures in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State. In addition to handling the “ordinary affairs” of the Secretariat of State, he also served as the pope’s unofficial personal secretary. Thousands of letters from around the globe arrived at the Vatican during the war years, and Montini responded to as many as he could.

The pope asked him to establish a refugee and prisoner of war information office. Between 1939 and 1947, it received ten million inquiries and sent eleven million replies. The government of Benito Mussolini was a longtime critic of Montini’s political interference, but the Holy See remained steadfast in its support for him. He was designated joint Secretary of State with Domenico Tardini in 1944.

Montini was a vigorous Undersecretary of State. (the title both he and Tardini received after their appointment). At the request of the pope, he co-founded Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza (Pontifical Commission for Assistance), a papal ad hoc commission that aimed to provide direct, non-bureaucratic aid to refugees and captives in war-torn Europe. Montini also joined the initiative to re-establish Church Asylum at the pope’s request.

Patriarch of Milan

After the death of the Benedictine Cardinal Alfredo Ildebrando Schuster in 1954, Montini became the Archbishop of Milan. His promotion also made him the Secretary of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. On January 5, 1955, he formally assumed the proprietorship of Milan Cathedral.

In the first few months of his tenure, Montini inquired about working conditions and labor issues with labor unions and associations. He firmly believed that churches were the only non-utilitarian structures in modern society and that they were indispensable for spiritual renewal. Consequently, he ordered the building of one hundred new temples.

During his lifetime, the majority of people viewed him as a liberal. He requested that everyone be loved regardless of their religious beliefs. Later, during the 1952 secret consistory, Pope Pius XII himself disclosed that neither Montini nor Tardini accepted designation to the cardinalate.

Angelo Roncalli succeeded Pius XII as Pope John XXIII upon the latter’s passing. On December 15, 1958, he elevated Montini to cardinal status. He was appointed to the Central Preparatory Commission three years later. Montini began residing in Vatican City at the pope’s request during this time period. He served on the Commission for Extraordinary Affairs but never took part in floor debates.

Several of his peers considered Montini to be Pope John XXIII’s most probable successor before he became a cardinal. During his official African trip as a cardinal, he visited Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, Congo, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Nigeria, and later conferred with the pope to report on his observations. 1960 also saw him visit Brazil and the United States.

Pope Paul’s Papacy

Due to his personal relationships with both Pius XII and John XXIII, Montini was considered the most probable candidate to succeed XXIII as pope following his death in June 1963. His pastoral and administrative background, as well as the respect he had earned from his subordinates and colleagues throughout his career in the Church, only strengthened the belief. Despite being frequently perceived as progressive, Montini was never known to hold radical political views. He was neither a candidate of the left nor the right.

Montini was elected the 262nd pontiff on the sixth ballot of the papal conclave on June 21, 1963. In honor of Saint Paul, he adopted the appellation “Paul VI.” At 11:22 am, the eager throng waiting outside observed the white smoke. Paul VI chose to administer a brief episcopal blessing as his first Apostolic Blessing rather than an elaborate and traditional Urbi et Orbi as he appeared on the central loggia following the announcement of his election.

The new pope recorded his observations on the papacy in his journal: “The position is unique.” It results in tremendous solitude. Before, I was alone, but now my seclusion is complete and magnificent.” Within two years of assuming the papal office, Paul VI’s physical health deteriorated to the point where he wrote a letter to the dean of the College of Cardinals informing him of the problem and the possibility that he would no longer be able to serve as pontiff in the future.

Consequently, he resigned as the Bishop of Rome and leader of the sacred Roman Catholic Church. As a council is typically dissolved upon the death of a pope, Paul VI’s decision to keep the Second Vatican Council active following the death of his predecessor attracted criticism. He ultimately oversaw its completion in 1965. Paul VI sought to fundamentally reform the Church, better relations with other Christian communities and faiths, and engage the world in dialogue.

He claimed that the universal call to virtue is “the most defining and ultimate purpose of the teachings of the Council.” He went on to explain that Christians of all ranks and positions must adhere to the Christian life and “the perfection of charity, which promotes a more humane way of life in this earthly society.” The teaching was recorded in Lumen Gentium, one of the council’s most important documents. Paul VI promulgated the dogmatic constitution on November 21, 1964.

Paul VI was the first pontiff to visit six different continents. It earned him the nickname “the Pope of the Pilgrims.” In 1964, he traveled to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. He was also the first pontiff to travel to the western hemisphere, where he addressed the United Nations in New York City.

Former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was kidnapped by the Italy-based terrorist organization Red Brigades on March 16, 1978. Paul VI attempted to intervene on Moro’s behalf by writing a letter to Red Brigades. Since their days as FUCI students, he and Moro had supported one another throughout their respective careers. On 9 May, Moro’s body was eventually discovered in a vehicle in Rome. The object was perforated with bullet holes.

Major Construction & Reforms

The elimination of royal splendor was one of the most significant alterations Pope Paul VI made to the Vatican. As his successors underwent an inauguration for the papal coronation, his ascension to the papal office marked the last time a pope had been crowned. With the motu proprio Pontificalis Domus, he ended most of the ceremonial functions of the ancient Roman nobility at the court in 1978. He also abolished the Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard, leaving the Swiss Guard as the sole military order of the Vatican.

On September 14, 1965, he established the Synod of Bishops as a permanent institution of the Church and papal advisory body. Throughout his pontificate, he convened numerous conferences with the Synod of Bishops on a variety of topics.

As a former employee of the Roman Curia, Paul VI was well aware of its flaws. He implemented reforms in phases. First, on March 1, 1968, he implemented a regulation begun by Pius XII and maintained by John XXIII. Using several additional Apostolic Constitutions, he then began reorganizing the entire Curia over the course of the following years. He reduced the scale of the bureaucracy and recruited numerous non-Italians for curial positions.

On August 6, 1966, Pope Paul VI requested that all Catholic bishops tender their resignations to him by their 75th birthday. He also reached out to the cardinals on November 21, 1970, requesting that they submit theirs by their 80th birthday. Neither requirement was required, but both were requested. When questioned why the same rule did not apply to him, he replied, “Kings can abdicate, but popes cannot.”

Reforming customary public worship or liturgy had been a component of liturgical movements in the 20th century in several European nations, including France and Germany. During the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, the Vatican permitted the use of vernacular languages during certain religious ceremonies, such as baptisms and funerals. Paul VI approved of the “New Order of Mass” in April 1969. Even though Paul VI’s Mass was celebrated in Latin, he approved of the use of vernacular languages.

Individual Life, Death, and Legacy

During his visit to Manila, Philippines, on November 27, 1970, a crew-cut, cassock-clad man armed with a knife assaulted Pope Paul VI. Paul VI was accompanied by President Ferdinand Marcos and personal assistant Pasquale Macchi, who both intervened to safeguard him. The perpetrator was subsequently identified as the 35-year-old artist Benjamin Mendoza y Amor. At the time, he was a Bolivian ex-pat residing in the Philippines. The pontiff was unharmed and continued his journey.

On December 29, 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document titled “Persona Humana: Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics,” reiterating the Church’s position that pre- or extra-marital sex, homosexual activity, and masturbation are immoral. Roger Peyrefitte, a French diplomat and gay rights activist who had previously published two books in which he claimed Paul VI was involved in a long-term homosexual relationship, reiterated these claims.

Peyrefitte characterized Paul VI as a hypocrite who had dated an actor. There were rumors that the actor in question was Paolo Carlini. During his speech at St. Peter’s Square on April 18, 1976, the pope addressed the accusations, calling them “horrible and slanderous insinuations” and requesting that the people intercede for him.

Paul VI died of a cardiac attack at Castel Gandolfo on August 6, 1978. According to the provisions of his will, he was interred in the “real earth” of St. Peter’s Basilica. Therefore, he was not interred in an elaborate sarcophagus. His terrestrial tomb is covered with a simple slab of travertine.

The process of Pope Paul VI’s canonization began on March 18, 1993, and is ongoing. He has already been lauded as a “Servant of God” and a “Venerable.” The date of his beatification was October 19, 2014. On March 6, 2018, Pope Francis sanctioned the canonization of Paul VI. The official ceremony will occur on October 14.

Estimated Net Worth

The Pope is one of the wealthiest Religious Leaders and one of the most prominent Religious Leaders. According to our research, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, the net worth of Pope Paul VI is $5 million.