Just a Thought - Canonisation of Pope Paul V1.

On 14th October 2018, Pope Paul VI will be canonized. And so also will Oscar Romero, about whom I have written many times in JATs.

I met personally with Pope Paul in March 1970 - I was among a group of missionaries who had been deported from Nigeria at the end of the Biafra War. I still have the special medal he gave to me/ us.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini Sept 26 1897, he was Pope from 1963 until his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, Paul continued the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965. He implemented its numerous reforms.

Like John XXIII, Paul wanted a church that was in dialogue with the modern world. That theme of dialogue he wrote about in his encyclical 'Ecclesiam Suam in 1964. And then there was that encyclical written in 1975 on 'evangelisation'. It is probably the best document ever written on that subject - 'Evangelii Nuntiandi' (On Proclaiming the Gospel). He wrote that the church itself 'has a constant need of being evangelized' and that people to-day listen 'more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and that if they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses'.

But it was another encyclical penned by Paul in 1968 - 'Humanae Vitae' - that has garnered much of the discussion over the legacy he left. There faced with the issue of whether to change the church's longstanding opposition to artificial birth control, Paul delivered a strong 'NO' to change and affirmed the church's teaching on contraception. Even though his papacy lasted another 10 years, this would be his last encyclical.

But let me finish this JAT with other words that Paul VI wrote - words that are relevant to us in the here and now - 'The world calls for, and expects of us, simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all. especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the hearts of people to-day. It risks being vain and sterile.