Paul facilitated Vatican II and the biblical, liturgical, sacramental, and curial renewals. His teachings on dialogue, the Holy Family, discernment, human development, Christian joy, peace, and evangelization remain unsurpassed.
Benedict XVI called his implementation of Vatican II “almost superhuman” and Francis referred to him as “the pope of modernity.” Paul’s teachings, gestures, and innovations are essential for understanding the modern papacy and Church. He remains amazingly relevant as a spiritual master, teacher, and prophet.
Why return to a pope dead for over forty years? Why allocate the requisite time and effort when there are other seemingly more practical choices? Because he continues to influence his successors and the Church, and his example, witness, documents, audiences, insights, and initiatives speak eloquently to today’s conflicts, challenges, and possibilities.
As his successors have noted, we cannot interpret, assimilate, and properly implement Vatican II without understanding St. Paul VI. Misconstrued and assailed during his papacy, as is the lot of prophets, he is an essential guide for reading the signs of the times.
St. Paul VI’s timeless refrains, gestures, and exhortations can inspire and motivate us to be our best:
“Why have I not studied, explored, and admired sufficiently this place in which life unfolds? What unpardonable distraction, what reprehensible superficiality!”
Adapting his spirituality, wisdom, and witness to our lives and capabilities, we will wrestle with the same questions.