Paul VI. the church changed like no other

He modernized the Catholic Church as hardly any other pope. Yet critics are reducing Paul VI. like to be no to contraception. About the councilor who was mocked as a 'pill-paule & # 39 ;.

The world was changing at a tremendous pace and the Church was in the middle of the greatest advice in its history when the elections came down to him. Milanese cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini did not insist on Peter's chair. "Here I am, crucified with Christ," he said at the end of the conclave in June 1963. The path he followed as Pope Paul VI. begun, could no longer be exemplary from the viewpoint of the church. On October 14, he is declared holy in Rome.

"Always polite, sometimes shy"

For the last time at the inauguration Paul VI. the tiara of a pope on his head, the symbol of the papal power around the world. Later he never wore them, and no pope ever put them on again. The reserved man had the perhaps most difficult legacy within the church, which had to be taken over by a pope of the 20th century. At the end of his 15-year reign, the Catholic Church had a different face.

Already outwardly, the slender Montini seemed to be the counterpart of his popular predecessor, John XXIII. Born in 1897 in Concesio, northern Italy, as the son of a lawyer, he passed the papal diplomatic academy and worked for 30 years for the Vatican state secretariat. "Always polite, sometimes shy", he was described by his contemporaries.

But when he became archbishop in the industrial metropolis of Milan in 1954, the cool-thinking intellectually also sought the conversation with workers in factory halls and construction sites, about which the red flag fluttered during strikes.

He continued the Second Vatican Council

The new pope left no doubt that he would continue the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965): "For this we want to use all the powers that the Lord has given us." Pondering, but quickly led the bishops through three sessions. He was always aware of the limitations and dangers of a 2000-year institute that embodies the claim to the truth. They needed a feeling that almost overpowered the powers of an individual.

But the personal price was high. When the Pope closed the council on 8 December 1965, his documents for traditionalists such as the French archbishop Lefebvre and some of the Curia representatives came close to an earthquake – and the progressives were far from the expectations.

For some, the confession of freedom of faith, the opening of the liturgy to the vernacular, the recognition of other religions as dialogue partners was a pure betrayal of the message of Jesus. The others blamed Paul VI. the insistence on papal primacy, for example in relation to the synods of the bishops who were accepted by the council. Under the hostility of both sides Paul VI. suffered throughout his life.

His call for peace for the UN was considered a milestone

Also politically put the first & # 39; traveling pope & # 39; of the modern era, if only because it doubled the number of Vatican nunties; His route stretches from South America to the Far East. His call for peace at the United Nations in New York in 1965 was a milestone against the backdrop of the escalating war in Vietnam. As the first pope, he began talks with the Soviet Union and the atheist Eastern Bloc against the protests of conservative circles.

He made history for ecumenism. The embrace with the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras on his Holy Land Trip in 1964 and the subsequent lifting of the joint prohibition of 1054 heralded a new era of church history.

Paul VI. sought a dialogue with the world, when at least in the West he turned away from the church more violently than ever before. He was often powerless against the leftist cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies.

The "forgotten pope"?

The negative reactions to his encyclical & # 39; Humanae vitae & # 39 ;, in which he opposed the fundamental separation of sexuality and family planning by artificial contraception in 1968 made clear the gap. As a "Paule pills" mock him in Germany.

On the other hand, the fact that he became the infamous anti-modernist envy & # 39; for priests in the previous year abolished or energetically favored a fairer world economic order in its social encyclical & # 39; Populorum progressio & # 39; (1967) almost under.

The difficult pontificate demanded homage. Paul VI The armed forces declined visibly in the years & # 39; 70 and left him completely on August 6, 1978. His biographer Jörg Ernesti later called him the "forgotten pope". But for many he remains the greatest pope of the 20th century.

From Christoph Schmidt