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Birth of Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI, 1970

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Pope Paul VI is born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini in Italy. Educated by Jesuits, he will have a long career in the Vatican serving many different roles under different popes.

When he himself becomes Pope Paul VI, he will be responsible for continuing with the Second Vatican Council and thereafter implementing its decrees. This generates a lot of criticism of him and his liberalizing policies.

One of the most memorable features of his reign will unfortunately be his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae on birth control. Paul will not consult the Vatican Council on this, and the pontifical commission set up to study the issue has its recommendations ignored. It's little wonder that it's greeted with surprise and disappointment by many Catholics around the world.

Paul VI will be the first pope to ever travel by airplane and as a result visits far more countries than has been typical in the past. A number of these travels will be designed to improve relations with non-Christians, such as his trip to India, where he is welcomed as a holy man.

Pope Paul VI will also try to heal rifts between Rome and other Christian churches — for example, he twice travels to visit the patriarch of Constantinople. Due in large part to his efforts, the excommuniation of the Eastern churches from 1054 will be lifted and communion becomes the basis for referring to churches in the East as "sister churches."

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The Coronation of Pope Paul VI

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