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Joseph A. Komonchak February 22, 2009 - 3:25pm
Heres a very interesting piece in the Times of London, on Pope Benedict and criticisms he is receiving even from among Cardinals for his leadership (or lack of same).
I lost in my typing the above;Paul VI, in an uncertain hour, chose to continue the great Council and brought it to its enduring conclusion. "Gigantes erant super terram in diebus illis." ("There were giants on the earth in the days of old." Genesis)
Instead of "unparalelled," now two above, I should have said are on a parallel with the great encyclicals of his immediate predecessors -- Divino afflante Spiritu, Mystici Corporis, Mediator Dei of Pius XII; Mater et Magistra, Pacem in Terris of John XXIII. Enough from me.
A sincere "thank you" to Joseph O'Leary and to John Page for their heart-felt tributes to the greatness of Paul VI. His death on the feast of the Transfiguration marked the blessed fulfillment of his own transfiguration in Christ.As a young seminarian in Rome, I was part of a group of New Yorkers who had an audience with him just days after his election as Pope. I still have on my office wall a photo of the vibrant, smiling young successor of John XXIII.But the other indelible image is of the gaunt Patriarch, fifteen years later, in the pulpit of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (just months before his own death), during the funeral of his dear friend, the murdered Aldo Moro. Almost Job-like Paul Vi chided the Almighty for the death of "this good man." But, in a great act of faith, surrendered his friend to the mercy of God.After "Humanae Vitae" Paul never wrote another encyclical. But his magnificent apostolic letter, "Evangelii Nuntiandi" is still unsurpassed.
Hello John and Fr. O'Leary (and all),Late into the discussion again! Hope everyone had a blessed Ash Wednesday.Thank you for your moving comments regarding Paul VI. I hope this additional comment will prove helpful. I have long thought that Paul VI's pontificate has been evaluated solely through the lens of "Humanae Vitae" alone, and that this is unfair. As I read matters, Catholics on one side were outraged by what Paul VI taught here, while Catholics on the other side were outraged when he took no punitive measures against the Catholics who disagreed and even disobeyed him. I still think it is terribly unfair that Paul VI's pontificate is often evaluated as if "Humanae Vitae" were his only contribution.That aside, I also thing the approach Paul VI took with respect to "Humanae Vitae" was remarkable. In "Humanae Vitae" he called on Catholics to continue to follow a moral standard more demanding than that of other sects. And he took much angry criticism and rejection for what he taught with no complaint. He also took no vengeance against those who disobeyed him, but still never wavered in what he taught. Maybe a little like Jesus' approach?
"I ask the Lord... for the grace to make my approaching death a give to the church. I can say that I have always loved her. It was love for her that drew me out of my petty, uncontrolled egotism and began me in her service. I seem to have lived because of her, and not anything else. But I would like the church to know it, and I would like the strength to say it, as a secret from the heart that a person has the courage to share only in the last moments of life" (Pensiero alla morte, cited in Cardinal C. M. Martini, The Gospel According to St Paul, p. 67)
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
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