In just a few months, Pope Francis will canonize Pope Paul VI. It is an extremely important ecclesiastical event. To canonize Pope Paul VI is to reaffirm the documents and the spirit of the Second Vatican Council because Pope Paul VI was the Pope of this Council. He was the Pope who understood the significance of this Council in the history of the Church and who was able to carry it forward with strength and intent up to the end.
Montini was the first modern Pope. Without demeaning anyone else, as a man of the new age, he understood that the Church needed to overcome an age of clashes and condemnations, an era of complaints and demands.
It is enough to re-read his discourses today at both the beginning and end of the different conciliar sessions to rediscover the brilliant innovations he wanted to promote with the important Conciliar event.
Pope Paul VI saw the hand and the plans of God in the hopes and aspirations of the contemporary world, which at times had been in contrast with the Church. In humanity’s tiring and painful adventure, he saw the hand print of God and the breath of the Holy Spirit.
This is why he wanted the Church of Jesus to be a Church that was a friend to humanity, a friend to the man of its time, a Church that lived and suffered with humanity, a Church that celebrated the achievements and victories of science and technology, a Church that understood the profound aspirations of individuals and entire peoples, a Church that listened, dialogued, clarified, explained and rectified when necessary, a Church that, ultimately, suffered patiently to defend the truth and justice in the lives of men and in relationship with the peoples.
Since the era of Pope Paul VI, many things have happened both within and outside the Church. God has given us other distinguished, wise and holy Popes who have brought many good things to Church life, both in doctrine and in pastoral care.
I believe that now, at least in Spain, the time is right to promote the spiritual, institutional, pastoral and missionary reform that the Council sought, and of which Pope Paul VI dreamed. Pope Francis is the guide who is conscientious and close to the missionary encounter between the Church and the contemporary world that Pope Paul VI wished to promote.
May he help us from the heavens to gradually create the Church of Vatican II--a church that is humble, fraternal, and at the service of the world in the name of Jesus. What is needed is a Church that condemns no one but rather draws near to many, speaks to all, asks and responds, clarifies, invites and suggests--a maternal Church that helps us all to discover in our lives the ways of God and true humanity.
During his Pontificate, Pope Paul VI experienced first hand the problems of both our Church and of the entire Spanish nation. I am convinced that in him, we have a powerful protector who will help us promote a renewed and rejuvenated Church in Spain, just like the one he dreamed of at the time of the Council--a society that is reconciled and at peace, collaborative--whose citizens may grow in freedom and responsibility, without exclusions or misgivings.
With the help of the Lord and of his servant the Holy Father Paul VI, we Spanish Christians must promote, with life, heart, and soul, the development of a Church as described in the documents of Vatican II: a robust Church formed by both converted and committed Christians disposed to live as members of the body of Jesus, children of God, heaven’s citizens, in this world.
A Church of devoted, joyful, generous Christians; friends and servants of all, who practice the true love of Jesus, Christians without pride nor greed, sustained by hope and eternal life, truly committed to the daily, demanding construction of earthly cities, shared homes, where we will all find a place to live in peace as we await the coming of the Lord.
Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Cardinal and Archbishop emeritus of Pamplona y Tudela
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 17, 2019
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