Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Pope Paul VI: "misunderstood and underrated"

To mark the anniversary of his death, Vatican Radio have posted an archive interview that gives an insight into the personality of Pope Paul VI. Whilst the interview only touches on what one might term matters of "policy" or the particular actions of Pope Paul's pontificate, it is nevertheless worth listening to the end.

At the time of the interview, Paul VI might have appeared to be in the shadow of Pope John XXIII. Looking back now, his pontificate appears much more in the shadow of those of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. One thing that emerges from the Vatican Radio interview is the idea of how Pope Paul VI initiated some things taken for granted today - overseas travels by the Pope, meeting with journalists on the plane, for example. The Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, promulgating the Year of Faith which will start in October, draws on the Year of Faith called by Pope Paul VI and the profession of faith, since known as the Credo of the People of God, with which he concluded that year.

I am convinced that an honest appraisal of the pontificate of Pope Paul VI (which cannot be separated from an understanding of his particular charism in the Church of his time - and how one can understand the promulgation of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae outside an idea of a specific charism is beyond me) will demonstrate how, just as Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been since, he was the correct Pope for his time. I am also convinced that it will demonstrate that he has a stature in the Church to match that of his successors. The forthcoming Year of Faith, because of its resonance with that called by Pope Paul VI, offers an opportunity for precisely such an appraisal.

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