Pope Paul VI died last night (6 August) at his summer home at Castelgandolfo, south of Rome, He was 80.
Pope Paul VI died last night (6 August) at his summer home at Castelgandolfo, south of Rome, He was 80. For some time, he has been suffering from severe arthritis; but yesterday, he had a heart attack, and died three hours later.
SYNOPSIS: Pope Paul was the leader of the world's 700-million Roman Catholic for 15 years. At a time of rapid change, he was both progressive and conservative. He provided radical reforms of Church government, and the celebration of the Mass in languages other than Latin. But he took an uncompromising stand against birth control and the permissive society.
Giovanni Battista Montini was elected to the Papacy on the death of Pope John 23rd. White smoke issuing from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican told the waiting crowds that they had a new Pope. He chose the name Paul as a symbol of unity, venerated by Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians alike.
The task of succeeding the much-loved Pope John was a formidable one. Pope Paul's background was very different. he had been a Vatican diplomat for much of his working life. Faced with a world in the throes of social change, he met its problems with liberal sympathy, but no deviation from the basic tenets of the Church.
President Podgorny's visit to the Vatican in 1967 was the first ever made by a Soviet Head of State. Pope Paul sought better relations with the countries of Eastern Europe, in a constant effort to improve conditions for their Catholic populations.
The Second Vatican Council convened by Pope John, was still in session when Pope Paul succeeded him. In set the pattern for Pope Paul's reforms: decentralisation of the Roman Curia. more responsibility for the bishops, more outward-looking policies for the Church.
Pope Paul travelled thousands of miles (kilometres) while in office, visiting the Holy land Africa, India, North and South America. The problem of poverty in the developing countries was a constant concern to him, and the subject of one of his major encyclicals.
In making these journeys, Pope Paul was the first Pontiff ever to travel by air. It was at Manila Airport, during his tour of Pacific countries in 1970, that an attempt to stab him was made by a Bolivian artist, disguised as a priest. The man later pleaded insanity, but was sent to prison. the Pope was unhurt.
Pope Paul always took a close interest in the working lives of the Italian people. Before his elevation to the Papacy, he was Archbishop of the great northern industrial city of Milan. As Pope, he celebrated Mass at Christmas with miners, construction workers and in a steel plant.
In recent months, the Pope's health was visibly failing. Though he continued his public appearances, and drew strength from contact with young people, he spoke several times of his approaching death. And the end of his life was clouded by tragedy. He was deeply distressed by the murder of his old friend, the former Italian Prime Minister, Aldo Moro.