Pope Paul VI
Paul VI (Latin: Paulus PP. VI; Italian: Paolo VI), born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978), reigned as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 21 June 1963 until his death on 6 August 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, who had convened the Second Vatican Council, he decided to continue it. He fostered improved ecumenical relations with 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 named him in 1954 Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese, yet denying him the Cardinal designation that traditionally accompanies being Archbishop of 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 the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.
He took on the name Paul to indicate a renewed worldwide 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 priority 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 devotee, 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 as the Mother of the Church during the 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 America and Europe in favour of the poor in the Third World. His positions on birth control (see Humanae Vitae) and other issues were controversial in Western Europe and North America, but were applauded by people 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 died on 6 August 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration. The diocesan process for beatification of Paul VI began on 11 May 1993.
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