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October 15, 2004

In “Riding the Dragon, author Robert Wicks recommends we recognize our renewal zones. Among them is reading biographies of others whom we admire. It is a wonderful way to overcome depression and re-energize us. The following is one such biography.

Book: Apostle for Our time Pope Paul VI
Author: John G. Clancy
P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, pp.238

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Before the election of Giovanni Battista Montini he practiced his own form of aperturismo in his cordial relationships with men of all faiths and races during his Secretariat years; in his openness to the most significant ideas of major thinkers of our age; in extensive travels in the United States, Canada, South America, and Africa. Special stress, however, is laid on the Pope’s life-long interest in labor causes and on his years in Milan, where he tirelessly engaged in pastoral ministry in a key industrial center of Italy afflicted with the social unrest on which Communism thrives.

In this book the engaging qualities of Pope Paul’s mind and heart often shine through his own words, which because of their characteristic combination of intellectual depth and warmth of feeling give a perspective of the new Pontiff which is one of warmth and color. In the end we have an impressive portrait of a dynamic figure, the thoroughly modern leader of a Church in renewal, who cannot fail to make his impact on world events . . .

An Excerpt from the Book:

A few days prior to his discussion with U Thant, involved as it was with the emergence of new nations and their socio-political problems, Pope Paul had made one of his first statements of political philosophy in a letter to the 50th convention of the Semaines Sociales de France, meeting in Caen. From the Christian point of view, he said, democracy does not necessarily result from any particular political institution or organization, but rather it is a state which exists wherever there is effective dialogue between government and governed, between authority and the people. The “tyranny of social groupings,” and the “abandoning of the individual to mechanisms in which his liberty disappears” were enemies of democratic progress. “Democracy as supported by the Church us not so much linked to a specific political regime as to the structures on which depend the relations between the people and the authorities in their request for the prosperity of all.”

“Democracy can be found in any regime that is not totalitarian,” the Pope said. “It requires a society of free men, equal in dignity and fundamental rights, a society that takes note of personalities, of responsibilities and rights.” In the same letter he had also spoken of the function of the press in a democracy, urging that the people be properly informed, adding even more cogently, however, that “the people must strive to judge and weigh the information they receive.” “And,” he added, “the instruments of diffusing (the news) must not be at the exclusive disposition of any single political viewpoint.”

Table of Contents:

1. The home in Brescia

2. Don Battista

3. Vatican beginnings

4. Cloister of Ciphers and Secrets

5. “And so I came to Milan”

6. Mission to Milan

7. Portrait of a cardinal

8. Sed Vacante

9. Successor to Peter — Successor to John

10. The Pauline pontificate