Caring for truth

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 16, 2016

Speaking of papal homilies, there is this:

It is true that the Church always has a duty to try to obtain a deeper understanding of the unfathomable mysteries of God (which are so rich in their saving effects) and to present them in ways even more suited to the successive generations. However, in fulfilling this inescapable duty of study and research, it must do everything it can to ensure that Christian teaching is not damaged. For if that happened, many devout souls would become confused and perplexed—which unfortunately is what is happening at present.

This was said on June 30, 1968 by Pope Paul VI, who—while unquestionably holy—was without a doubt the weakest occupant of the See of Peter in the twentieth century. On another occasion, he lamented that the only thing he had been able to do for the Church is suffer.

The great thing about Paul VI is that he was thoroughly aware of his limitations, and so refused to play to his weaknesses. It was frustrating at the time but, in retrospect? The legacy of a saint.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 17, 2016 10:37 PM ET USA

    Humanae vitae was pretty strong stuff.

  • Posted by: timothy.op - Jun. 17, 2016 7:34 PM ET USA

    To say that he was the 'weakest' is not saying a great deal, considering his formidable companions on the list of 21st century popes. Granting that I wasn't alive then, all that I know of him is cause for admiration.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jun. 17, 2016 2:54 PM ET USA

    This makes it very obvious that it was not Pope Paul who held the Church together, but God the Holy Spirit. Unfathomable mysteries, indeed.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 16, 2016 7:19 PM ET USA

    Most profound statement I ever read in an encyclical: "Not that there lies under those species what was already there before, but something quite different; and that not only because of the faith of the Church, but in objective reality, since after the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances, under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical "reality" is bodily present." Paul VI