Paul VI was a strong supporter of collegiality, the
collective responsibility of all the bishops under the pope for the
general welfare of the Church. Throughout the pontificate of Pope Paul
VI the tension between papal primacy and the collegiality of the
episcopacy was a source of conflict.
On September 14, 1965, Pope
Paul VI announced the establishment of the Synod of Bishops
called for by the Council fathers. Celibacy, removed from the debate of
the fourth session of the Council, was made the subject of an
encyclical, June 24, 1967; the regulation of birth was treated in Humanae
vitae July 24, 1968, his last encyclical. The controversies over
these two pronouncements tended to overshadow the last years of Pope
Paul VI's pontificate.
Those who knew Pope Paul VI
describe him as a brilliant man, deeply spiritual, humble, and gentle, a
man of "infinite courtesy." His successful conclusion of
Vatican II has left its mark on the history of the Church.
History will also record his well received address to
the United Nations in 1965, his encyclical Populorum progressio
(1967), his second great social letter, Octogesima adveniens
(1971), and his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi, his
last major pronouncement which touched on the conception of liberation
Pope Paul VI supported
all efforts for social advancement in the emerging nations of the Third
World. Pope Paul VI's first papal visit was to the United Nations
headquarters in New York on October 4, 1965, and he was the first pope
to visit all five continents, and the first since Saint Peter to visit
the Holy Land.
Pope Paul VI will
be remembered for his work toward the reunion of all Christians, his
reaching out to the multitudes of non-Christian religions, his
internationalizing the Roman Curia and his untiring work for
peace. Pope Paul VI had an exceptional capacity for work which
lasted until the end.
Pope Paul VI died
on the Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 1978, at the pope's
summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Pope Paul VI requested a
simple funeral with no catafalque (a raised and decorated platform on
which the coffin of a distinguished person lies in state) and no
monument over his grave.
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