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Pope of Modernity

· At the Angelus, Remembering Pope Paul VI, forty years since his death ·

Twenty thousand faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus on 5 August, joined Pope Francis’ in honouring Paul VI, “the great Pope of modernity”, with a big round of applause on the eve of the 40th anniversary of his death. Remembering him with much “veneration and gratitude”, the Pontiff prayed that, as “we wait for his canonization on 14 October”, he may “intercede from the heavens, for the Church which he loved so much and for peace in the world”. Pope Francis repeated his affection for Paul VI the following morning, the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, with a visit to his tomb in the Vatican grottos.

Before reciting the Marian prayer, Francis had commented on the day’s Gospel, according to John (Jn 6:24-36). Over the last few weeks, the liturgy has presented us with the image of Jesus “reaching out to the crowd and its needs”, Pope Francis said. Instead, “in today’s Gospel passage, the perspective changes. The crowd that had been fed by Jesus begins to seek him again”. However, this is not enough for Jesus. “He wishes that the search for him and the encounter with him go beyond the immediate satisfaction of material needs”. Christ came “to open up our lives to a wider horizon than the daily concerns of nourishing, dressing ourselves, [having a] career and so on”, he explained. And in doing so, the Pontiff concluded, the Lord reminds us “not to forget that if it is necessary to worry about bread, it is even more important to nurture our relationship with him”, the ‘bread of life’”.

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St. Peter’s Square

Dec. 13, 2018

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