Pope Remembers Paul VI on Anniversary of 1978 Death

On Feast of the Transfiguration

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II today offered a Mass for the repose of the soul of his predecessor Pope Paul VI, on the 23rd anniversary of his death.

The Holy Father has observed the anniversary every year of his pontificate, in memory of Paul VI, who, some biographers say, saw his successor in the young archbishop from Krakow. Paul VI died Aug. 6, 1978, at the age of 80.

Today, the Church also celebrates the Transfiguration. In his homily John Paul II explained: «While the liturgy invited the contemplation of the transfigured Christ, [Paul VI] was finishing his journey on earth and entering eternity, where God´s holy face shines in all splendor.»

«This day, therefore, is linked to his memory, enveloped by the singular mystery of light diffused by this solemnity,» John Paul II added.

During his 1963-1978 pontificate, Giovanni Battista Montini emphasized the ecclesial aspect of the mystery of the Transfiguration. «He never lost any opportunity to underline that the Church, Body of Christ, participates through grace in the same mystery of its Head,» John Paul II explained.

He recalled the words of Paul VI from 1972: «I would like you to have the capacity to perceive in the Church the light it bears within, the capacity to see the transfigured Church, namely, to see that which [the Second Vatican] Council has shown so clearly in its documents.

«Church encloses a profound, immense, divine mystery. … The Church is the sacrament, the sensible sign of a hidden reality, which is the presence of God among us.»

John Paul II concluded: «In these words, one can see his extraordinary love for the Church. This was the great passion of his whole life!»

Early in his pontificate, Paul VI raised Krakow, the diocese headed by Bishop Karol Wojtyla, to the level of archdiocese. In May 1967, when he was only 47, Archbishop Wojtyla was made a cardinal by Paul VI.

Cardinal Wojtyla participated in numerous private and public audiences given by Paul VI — he made three «ad limina» visits to Rome — and was a member of several Vatican organizations.

During Lent 1976, at Paul VI´s invitation, Cardinal Wojtyla directed the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia — a high-profile task that preceded by two and a half years his election as Pope.

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