NOTE: The image featured here is of Pope Paul VI canonized on October 14, 2018.
We celebrate the birth and feast day (in Italy) of Giovanni Montini who was born in Brescia, Italy, in 1897, and spent his entire life in service to the Catholic Church.
A Man of Infinite Courtesy
Those who knew him best describe Pope Paul as a brilliant man, deeply spiritual, humble, and reserved and gentle, a man of ‘infinite courtesy.’ He was one of the most traveled popes in history and was the first to visit five continents. The wealth of intellectual information he left in his many addresses and letters as well as in all his major pronouncements is staggering.
He successfully concluded Vatican II, and in Church history he will be remembered for his rigorous reform of the Roman curia, for his address to the United Nations in 1965 and for his great attention to the many social problems apparent in the latter part of the 20th century.
Papal Artifacts honors the gift to our Church of Pope Paul VI. He was beatified in October 2014 and canonized October 14, 2018.
Pope St. Paul VI, pray for us!
A Minnesota Bishop Remembers His Ad Limina Visit with Pope Paul VI Just Months Before His Death
Bishop Raymond Lucker of New Ulm, Minnesota, was consecrated a Bishop on September 8, 1971. Before his death in 2001, he published his diocesan pastoral letters, Prairie Views: Twenty-five Years of Pastoral Letters.
One of them was a tribute to Pope Paul VI. Written in May 1978, it offers a first-hand portrait of the Pope who was just months away from his death. The Bishop writes with warmth, affection and enthusiasm about the Pope who seven years earlier appointed him a bishop.
Here is Bishop Lucker’s tribute to Pope Paul VI:
A short time ago I went to Rome as required for diocesan bishops every five years—my ad limina visit. I offered Mass and prayed at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul for the priests and people of the Diocese of New Ulm.
The highlight of the visit was an audience with Pope Paul VI together with thirteen other bishops from Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota.
At noon May 26th, we were ushered into Pope Paul’s study where he greeted each of us warmly and asked for the blessing of God on our diocese. His voice is clear, his handshake firm, but his walk is unsteady from the crippling effects of arthritis.
My heart was deeply moved with affection and admiration for this great leader who has guided the church in this period of reform and renewal since the Second Vatican Council. As Chief Shepherd of the universal church he carries the heavy burden of this office and displays an incredible awareness of the joys and sorrows, the anguish and hope of our time.
Cardinal Dearden spoke on behalf of all of us. With honesty and affection he talked about the north central areas of the United States, of our industry and rich agricultural lands, of the sturdy faith of our people, and also of the impact of materialism and values of this world on our lives.
The Holy Father prepared an address for us. But before he delivered it he said that he would like to speak with us from his heart and in his own language. His informal words were translated by one of the American priests working at the Secretariat of State. He spoke with clarity, warmth, and with a breadth of vision embracing the whole world.
In his prepared text, he spoke about life in all its dimensions. He praised the efforts of the American bishops, and the priests, religious and lay people to defend, heal and promote human life—efforts directed to the eradication of hunger, elimination of subhuman living conditions, and the promotion of programs on behalf of the poor, the elderly and the minorities.
Within the context he gave his strongest commendation and firmest support in the continuing struggles against what the Second Vatican Council calls the abominable crime of abortion.
“Disregard for the sacred character of life in the womb weakens the very fabric of civilization; it prepares a mentality, and even a public attitude, that can lead to the acceptance of other practices that are against the fundamental rights of the individual,” he said.
He pointed out that all efforts made to safeguard human rights benefit life itself. Work, done in the Catholic school, in training for social justice and in confronting various social issues, is a service to life. These are strong words and give encouragement to the many people who work for justice and human concerns.
However, all of this concern for human life finds its summit in leading people to the fullness of eternal life: salvation in Christ.
In the course of his message, I was particularly struck by the specific reference and support that the Holy Father gave to Natural Family Planning. To my knowledge, this is the first time the Holy Father himself spoke on this topic. He said, “In supporting natural family planning programs, the church gives witness not only to her fidelity to the design of the Creator, but also to her faithful service to the human person.”
After his address, Pope Paul spoke to us again informally, then came to each of us with a brief greeting, and finally gave us a remembrance of the visit.
It was a memorable occasion that I wished to share with you —–Bishop Raymond Lucker, June 1978
Papal Artifacts is grateful to Bishop Lucker (deceased) for his memoir of Pope Paul VI.