Monday, November 09, 2009

Paul VI

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Portrait of Pope Paul VI
Vatican Museums

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Portrait of Pope Paul VI
Vatican Museums

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Portrait of Pope Paul VI [1965-70]
Tempera and ink on board
H 48 x L 32,5 cm
Centro studi "Paolo VI" sull'arte moderna e contemporanea, Brescia

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Portrait of Pope Paul VI (1968)
Tempera on canvas
H 105 x L 75 cm
Centro studi "Paolo VI" sull'arte moderna e contemporanea, Brescia

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Paul VI in Audience 1968-1970
Tempera on canvas
H 130 x L 200 cm
Centro studi "Paolo VI" sull'arte moderna e contemporanea, Brescia

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Paul VI in canonicals / Paolo VI in abiti pontificali 1969
Oil on canvas
188 x 84 cm
Centro studi "Paolo VI" sull'arte moderna e contemporanea, Brescia

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Paul VI lights the Easter Candle/ Paolo VI accende il cero pasquale 1975
Tempera and pastel on board
49 x 34 cm
Centro studi "Paolo VI" sull'arte moderna e contemporanea, Brescia

Dina Bellotti 1911-2003
Paul VI in canonicals / Paolo VI in abiti pontificali 1975
Tempera and pastel on board
67 x 50cm
Centro studi "Paolo VI" sull'arte moderna e contemporanea, Brescia

"I would have loved to have been able to draw”, Pope Paul VI confided to Dina Bellotti at the end of an audience at the end of the 1960s. These words sealed an acquaintance and developed into a deep friendship between client and artist.

Hers was a different approach to the portraits of individuals, the faces of friends and private customers. She said:

"The portrait is associated with the person, whether he has or does not have strings in his bow that can respond to your vibrations. Children are fine because in a certain sense you can dominate them, but with an adult there must be a genuine consonance”.

She also said:

"I believe what matters is going behind the scenes, behind the footlights; those who do so discover the secret of the strong-room. But only if you know how to look will you find it”.

Dina Bellotti painted as many as twenty-five portraits of Pope Montini, now hung in the Vatican and church offices worldwide.

Whether she unlocked the secret of Papa Montini, a very private person, is open to discussion.

During his pontificate Paul VI (1963-1978) presided over most of the Second Vatican Council. He was active in extending the concern of the Vatican to Roman Catholics outside Europe. He was the first Pontiff to travel by air. He travelled like St Paul far and wide: the United States in 1965; Colombia in 1968; Uganda in 1969; the Holy Land; and various Asian countries including India and the Philippines in 1970

He was behind many important changes. He cancelled the mutual excommunications with the Greek Orthodox Church. He met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Shenouda II, patriarch of Alexandria and head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Many of the acts which we now take for granted by a Pontiff were initiated under his Pontificate

His decision to increase the use of the vernacular in parts of the Mass and his reaffirmation of the bans on priestly matrimony (1967), contraception (1968) and the ordination of women (1972) still reverberate.

His "stock" is not high.

Even when he was alive, there were constant grumblings and criticism of his decisions and teachings. He was lambasted by "liberals" and "conservatives" and many others of different and of no labels or party affiiation.

After the "successful" papacies of John Paul II and the present Pope, it is perhaps difficut for some to know or recall what views were of Paul VI by his contemporaries, Perhaps the following from Time`s main article following his death (published 14th August 1978) gives an idea:

"As Pope he inherited a revolution, then wrestled with it in spiritual anguish ...

He had assumed the Papal Tiara in 1963, in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, that theater for the most profound process of change that the church had experienced in centuries. At the time, Cardinal Montini seemed just the man to steer the church through the turbulence that confronted it. Idealistic and sensitive, a thoughtful scholar and a connoisseur of theology, he had a reputation for being open to new ideas. He was a subtle diplomat with an acute knowledge of the inner workings of the church's machinery.

But the shy, intense new Pope labored in the shadow of his jovial, grandfatherly predecessor, Pope John XXIII. It was John's revolution that he inherited, with John's open, hopeful stamp of approval upon it. In the years that followed, the movement that John called aggiornamento, or modernization, became part of a revolution larger than John had foreseen—a tumultuous moral and social upheaval around the world. Both inside and outside the church, old values were questioned, traditional authority challenged.

Paul became a study in anguish—wanting reform but fearing the consequences of too much too fast, trying to please progressives while placating conservatives. He said yes to more changes than any Pope since the 16th century Council of Trent: a thoroughgoing revision of liturgy, a streamlining of the Curia, an unprecedented rapprochement with other faiths. But his no could be emphatic and crucial: no to any genuine sharing of power with his fellow bishops, no to married priests, no to the ordination of women, and no—a still-reverberating no—to artificial birth control. The late Jesuit Theologian John Courtney Murray accurately predicted the tone of Paul's pontificate in the early years of his reign. "From a cerebral point of view," said Murray in 1965, "he is a convinced progressive. But when he starts to reflect on the duties of his office he begins to get qualms. If cracks in the ice begin to appear, he fears, who knows where they will end?" ...

Despite Paul's reforms, he saw the church being weakened by the dramatic departure of thousands of priests from the ministry; he called the exodus his "crown of thorns." Many of the priests left in order to marry, but Paul firmly resisted the suggestion that the centuries-old tradition of priestly celibacy be made optional. He extolled the celibate life as "the precious divine gift of perfect continence." Still, he left the door open for a successor to move further. He permitted the ordination of married deacons, who could exercise many ministerial functions, and he conceded the possibility of ordaining married men in mission countries ...

Sometimes Paul raised expectations, or at least allowed them to grow, then disappointed those who hoped for change. In the spirit of Vatican II's declaration on collegiality (the sharing of authority), Paul established a synod of bishops that would meet regularly to advise him. Five times during his reign, churchmen from round the world convened in Rome to discuss such issues as clerical celibacy and evangelism. But the Pope controlled the agenda (he vetoed a discussion of the family in 1974, presumably because it would raise such questions as birth control and divorce), and he insisted on having the final say on the language of any published synod documents. ...

To political conservatives in the church, Paul was all too sympathetic to socialism. In Populorum progressio (On the Development of Peoples), the strongest and most moving of his seven encyclicals, he wrote in 1967 that the ownership of property "does not constitute for anyone an absolute and unconditional right. No one is justified in keeping for his exclusive use what he does not need when others lack necessities." The document warned prophetically that rich nations must share their wealth with poor ones or risk "the judgment of God and wrath of the poor." ...

Throughout his life, Paul was an ascetic—a dedicated worker who pushed his frail body regularly through a schedule that lasted from 6 in the morning until midnight, with little more than his meals and a siesta to break the day. Abstinent himself, he worried much and cautioned often about society's move away from traditional family patterns and its increasing self-indulgence. He warned that the rise of militant feminism risked "either masculinizing or depersonalizing women" and condemned "the most cunning aggression of conscience through pornography."

His caveats belied Paul's deep compassion for individuals. He could not, like Pope John, simply give mankind an indiscriminate embrace, but he could be surprisingly open in small audiences, as in a 1971 encounter with some rock musicians. "We are aware of the values you seek," he told them. "Spontaneity, sincerity, liberation from certain formal and conventional restrictions, the need to be yourselves and to interpret the demands of your time."

If Paul had expressed such views more often, his reign might have been less anguished. His exhortations might have seemed less imperious, and some measure of reciprocal understanding might have reached him, rekindling the hope and the courage that seemed to die in him as his pontificate wore on. The papacy weighs on its bearer like a cross of centuries, and Paul VI had to carry his alone. -"

However it might appear that the present Pope, Pope Benedict XVI is attempting a rehabilitation of the Pope from Brescia. He obviously thinks a great deal of Papa Montini.

Perhaps he feels that this is necessary if one is to regard the Second Vatican Council not as a "rupture" but as a "continuation" of pre-Conciliar magisterium.

This admiration for Paul VI was probaby most marked in the present Pope`s third encyclical Caritas in Veritate (June 29, 2009)

Much of the Encyclical is a paean of praise to Paul`s Encyclical Populorum Progressio:

"At a distance of over forty years from the Encyclical's publication, I intend to pay tribute and to honour the memory of the great Pope Paul VI, revisiting his teachings on integral human development and taking my place within the path that they marked out, so as to apply them to the present moment.

This continual application to contemporary circumstances began with the Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, with which the Servant of God Pope John Paul II chose to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Populorum Progressio.

Until that time, only Rerum Novarum had been commemorated in this way.

Now that a further twenty years have passed, I express my conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered “the Rerum Novarum of the present age”, shedding light upon humanity's journey towards unity."

The references to Populorum Progressio suffuse the present Pope`s encyclical.

Not only that Benedict stressed the importance of the magisterium of Paul VI:

"13. In addition to its important link with the entirety of the Church's social doctrine, Populorum Progressio is closely connected to the overall magisterium of Paul VI, especially his social magisterium.

His was certainly a social teaching of great importance: he underlined the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice, in the ideal and historical perspective of a civilization animated by love.

Paul VI clearly understood that the social question had become worldwide and he grasped the interconnection between the impetus towards the unification of humanity and the Christian ideal of a single family of peoples in solidarity and fraternity. In the notion of development, understood in human and Christian terms, he identified the heart of the Christian social message, and he proposed Christian charity as the principal force at the service of development.

Motivated by the wish to make Christ's love fully visible to contemporary men and women, Paul VI addressed important ethical questions robustly, without yielding to the cultural weaknesses of his time."

In his Encyclical, Benedict XVI makes references to other important documents of Paul VI`s Magisterium: Octogesima Adveniens (1971); Humanae Vitae (1968) and the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (8 December 1975)

His admiration and respect for Paul VI and his teaching can also be seen by the visit on Sunday last to the hometown of Paul VI (Brescia in Northern Italy) as well as his birthplace and where he was baptised.

In particular the Pope singled out a number of facets.

First he recalled the devotion of Paul to marian devotion

""[H]is Nov. 21, 1964, address at the closing of the third session of the Second Vatican Council is memorable," the Pope said. "During that session of the council the Constitution on the Church, 'Lumen Gentium,' was promulgated. The document had, as Paul VI noted, 'an entire chapter dedicated to the Madonna as its apex and crown.'

"[Paul VI] noted that it contained the largest synthesis of marian doctrine ever elaborated by an ecumenical council, with the purpose of 'manifesting the countenance of the Church to which Mary is intimately joined.'"

It was in this context that Paul VI proclaimed Mary Most Holy Mother of the Church, Benedict XVI recalled, "underscoring with lively ecumenical sensitivity that 'devotion to Mary … is a means essentially ordained to orient souls to Christ and thus join them to the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit.'"

"Echoing the words of Paul VI," the Holy Father concluded, "we too today pray: O Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to you we commend this Church of Brescia and all the people of this region. Remember all your children; bring their prayers before God; keep their faith firm; strengthen their hope; make their charity grow. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary." "

Second, he was a great lover of the Church and dedicated all his energies to serving it, so that in the Church, contemporary man finds Christ.

"Benedict XVI cited some thoughts from his predecessor's "A Thought About Death."

"Let us re-read the concluding part of his 'Pensiero alla Morte,' where he speaks about the Church," Benedict XVI proposed. "‘I could say,’ he writes, ‘that I always loved her … and that for her, and for no one else, I think I have lived.’"

The Pope said these are "the accents of a palpitating heart," and he continued to quote: "'Finally I would like to comprehend her entirely, in her history, in her divine plan, in her final destiny, in her complex, total and unitary composition, in her human and imperfect consistency, in her disasters and her sufferings, in her weaknesses and in the misery of so many of her children, in her less pleasing aspects, and in her perennial effort at fidelity, love, perfection and charity.'

"'Mystical Body of Christ. I want,’ the Pope continues, ‘to embrace her, to greet her, love her, in every being that constitutes her, in every bishop and priest who assists and guides her, in every soul that lives her and exemplifies her; to bless her.’

"And the last words are for her as for a life-long bride: ‘And to the Church, to whom I owe everything and who was mine, what will I say? May God’s blessings be upon you; be conscious of your nature and your mission; have a sense of the true and deep needs of humanity; and journey in poverty, that is free, strong and loving toward Christ poor.’”

Poor and free

The Holy Father said Paul VI's description of the Church contain a lesson for today.

"What can one add to such lofty and intense words?" he asked. "I would just like to stress this last vision of the Church as 'poor and free,' which recalls the evangelical figure of the widow."

Benedict said the ecclesial community must be this way "to reassure and speak to contemporary humanity."

"Giovanni Battista Montini had the Church’s encounter and dialogue with the humanity of our time at heart in every season of his life, from the first years of priesthood to the pontificate," he said. "He dedicated all of his energies to the service of a Church that would be as much as possible in conformity with her Lord Jesus Christ so that, encountering her, contemporary man could encounter him, Christ, because he has absolute need of Christ.”

Consciousness, renewal, dialogue

The German Pontiff suggested that this was the fundamental aim of the Vatican Council called by Paul VI and expounded in his 1964 encyclical, "Ecclesiam Suam."

With this first encyclical, the Holy Father explained, Paul VI proposed to explain the importance of the Church for the salvation of humanity.

Three words key to Paul's thinking about the Church at the beginning of his papacy were "consciousness," "renewal," and dialogue," he noted.

"First of all the demand that she deepen her consciousness of herself: her origin, nature, mission, final destiny; secondly, her need to renew and purify herself, looking to the model of Christ; finally the problem of her relationship to the modern world," Benedict XVI said.

These same three issues “remain absolutely central today," he contended. Echoing Paul VI, the Pope affirmed that the Church cannot engage the world without fostering a deep interior life: “Precisely the Christian open to the world, the Church open to the world, have need of a robust interior life.”"

Third, he was a great educator and stressed the importance of equipping young people to face the world

"In 1933, Father Montini -- the future Paul VI -- wrote:

"[I]n secular circles, intellectuals even and perhaps especially in Italy think nothing of Christ. In contemporary culture he is largely unknown, forgotten, absent," Benedict XVI cited.

"Montini the educator, the student and priest, the bishop and Pope, always felt the necessity of a qualified Christian presence in the world of culture, art, society, a presence rooted in the truth of Christ, and, at the same time, attentive to man and his vital needs," he added. And citing Paul VI again: “… no separate compartments in the soul, culture on one side and faith on the other; school on one side, Church on the other. Doctrine, like life, is one.”

"In other words," the German Pontiff explained, "for Montini what was essential was the complete harmony and integration between the cultural and religious dimension in formation, with a particular emphasis on knowledge of Christian doctrine and the practical implications for life.”


The Bishop of Rome said his predecessor particularly understood the importance of equipping young people to face the modern world.

“Giovanni Battista Montini insisted on the formation of young people," he said, "to make them capable of entering into relation with modernity, a relationship that is difficult and often critical, but always constructive and dialogical. He pointed to some negative characteristics in modern culture, both in the area of knowledge and that of action, such as subjectivism, individualism and the unlimited affirmation of the subject. At the same time, however, he held the necessity of dialogue on the basis of a solid doctrinal formation, whose unifying principle was faith in Christ; a mature Christian ‘consciousness,’ therefore, capable of confrontation with everyone, without, however, ceding to the fashions of the time.”

Finally, Benedict XVI noted how Paul VI understood the importance of witness in education.

He cited another affirmation of his predecessor: "[C]ontemporary man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, or, if he listens to teachers, he does so because they are witnesses.”"

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