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What about Paul VI?

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Today, Sean Michael Winters of the National Catholic Reporter devotes his long essay to the main papacy between St. John XXIII and St. John Paul the Great. (you can read my last column to see if I think he was great or not). You can read the column on Montini at http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/montini My response follows, As always, read MSW before going further or you might not get what I am talking about.

Montini made the choice to work with the curial system, as the papacy is almost a creature of it. The current pope is more likely to change the Curia - a job long in coming. He has been at it too long to meet the faith of the other pope who would change the Curia, the tragic John Paul I. It is rumored that JPI would have overturned Humanae Vitae, but we will really never know.

As for Humanae Vitae itself, just as MSW has written how good it gets, I have written how much worse it is with time. The new Saint JPII even doubled down on it with Evangelicum Vitae, which added nothing by reinforcing the Aristotelian/Thomistic truism that if you are unsure someone is alive you must treat them as so. However, on birth control, plenty of us are sure that life begins at conception. H.V. does speak to marital love, but it is an idealized version that offers no help to couples in trouble, including on sexuality.

As for Montini's personal sanctity - he aged but did not seem to struggle with any chronic diseases in the way John Paul II did, or are there stories of personal devotion that are reported about John. They don't make you a saint for being a good Vatican bureaucrat. He was neither a martyr or a confessor. Of course, the virtual martyrdom of lingering disease is overly sought in brining saints to the Canon. They are a wrong headed challenge to palliate care and part of the reason that assisted suicide is condemned so harshly - as if God loves our pain. We need to quit canonizing people for enduring bad medicine.

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