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Apostle for our time, Pope Paul 


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8SEP ... .j 




Jok G.Clancy 


Copyright 1963 by John G. Clancy, S.T.L., J.C.D. 
All right reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced 
in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except 
for brief excerpts for review purposes. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 63-21413 
Manufactured in the United States of America 

Nihil obstat: REV. CHARLES K. VON Euw, S.T.L., S.E.O.D. 
Censor Librorum 

Archbishop of Boston 

Brighton, Massachusetts, September 13, 1963 

The nihil obstat and imprimatur are official declarations that a book 
or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is con 
tained therein that those who have granted the nihil obstat and im 
primatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed. 

To my Mother and Father 
and in memory of Anne 




"We will love those who are near and those far 
from us. We will love our own country, and we will 
love that of others. We will love our friends, we 
will love our enemies. We will love Catholics, we will 
love the dissidents, the Protestants, the Anglicans, 
the indifferent, the Mohammedans, the pagans, the 
atheists. We will love all social classes, but especially 
those most in need of help, of assistance, of advance 
ment. We will love children and we will love the old, 
the poor and the sick. We will love those who mock 
us, who scorn us, who oppose us, who persecute us. 
We will love those who merit and those who do not 
merit to be loved. We will love our opponents: we 
will want no man to be our enemy. We will love the 
time in which we live: our culture, our science, our 
art, our sport, our world. We will love, striving to 
understand, to have sympathy, to admire, to serve, 
and to suffer. We will love with the heart of Christ: 
Come to me, all of you , . ." 



fn the long history of the Church no papal election has at 
tracted the interest and attention of the whole world as did 
that which brought John Baptist Montini to the Chair of Peter. 
It seemed as if the entire world held its breath and waited and 
watched with the silent crowd keeping vigil in the square of 
St. Peter while the man who was to succeed good Pope John 
was chosen. 

We cardinals, who by tradition and law have the solemn ob 
ligation of selecting the man who will be Peter in the Church 
of his day, were well aware as we entered the conclave not only 
of the grave responsibility that was ours but also that the eyes of 
the world were focused upon us. It was ours to choose the 
man capable of assuming the leadership of the Church of Christ 
here on earth an awesome responsibility. But the one we 
would elect must be the man who could continue the monu 
mental work begun by John XXIII; who must be what John 
was to the world. The Holy Spirit showed us the choice and di 
rected our vote. We have a Pope; he has taken the name of 

But if the Church sounded a shout of joy at this announce 
ment; if the Christian world breathed a happy sigh of expect- 



ancy; if the whole globe approved of this election, there were 
still the questions on the lips of many. "What is he really like?" 
"What kind of a person is this Pope Paul?" If we know his past 
life and work, we can tell something of our future. Indeed, a 
knowledge of the life of John Baptist Montini his youth, his 
priesthood, his service in the Church and his devotion to Christ 
reveals that here truly God has raised up in His Church a 
great man, a holy and able man, a man whose whole life seems 
in the plan of Providence to have been a preparation for this 
critical task in an age of crisis. 

One thing which strikes me about our new Pope is this: he 
is a man of the twentieth century, a priest of the modern world, 
a Pope for our time. His middle-class family background pre 
sents almost a familiar scene to us Americans: his father a 
journalist and active in politics; his mother a quiet woman of 
firm faith. In the words of Monsignor Clancy, "there seems to 
have been a Christian rhythm to the lives of the Montinis which 
... in the example of his mother and father profoundly in 
fluenced young Giovanni Battista." 

And his early priesthood, so much of it dedicated to assisting 
idealistic and disillusioned youth of the university to discover 
the Christ-centeredness of the world, strikes a sympathetic note 
here in our society. The great pontiff of happy memory, Pope 
Pius XII, whom Monsignor Montini served so faithfully with 
Christlike self-effacement, said of his pro-Secretary of State: 
He possesses every priestly quality in the highest degree. His 
years of service in the Secretariat of State gave him valuable 
experience in administration and diplomacy, to be sure. But in 
the midst of those duties which can tend to be so routine, so 
impersonal, Monsignor Montini never lost sight of his priestly 
vocation and its divine purpose cura animarum, the care of 

Two pictures stand out in my memory which for me charac 
terize the man whom our Lord has chosen to be His Vicar and 


our servant: the deep concern on Monsignor Montini's face 
as he stood with Pius XII amid the wounded of Rome who 
had been injured by an Allied bombing; the new Archbishop 
kneeling and kissing the ground of his diocese as he entered 
Milan. These reveal a man who is warm, who is compassion 
ate, who feels the anguish of our anguished world. 

As Archbishop of Milan he electrified that city with a plan 
and program of evangelization which revealed a man who knew 
the twentieth century, who knew the problems of twentieth 
century men. He soon became known with affection as "the 
Archbishop of the workers." His personal charity, his quiet ex 
ample, his tireless energy reflected the zeal and life of the apos 
tle whose name he was to take as Bishop of Rome. The full 
part which Cardinal Montini played in the preparations for 
Pope John's Council of Renewal cannot yet be told. Suffice to 
say that his was the first voice raised in praising the vision of 
Pope John, in delineating the path of renewal we must follow. 
"Reform," he said, "has been through the centuries the renew 
ing ferment of Catholic tradition." His immediate decision 
following his election to continue the Council without post 
ponement gave joy and hope to the whole Christian world. 

Speaking to his people of Milan about the then forthcoming 
Council, Cardinal Montini proclaimed, "Something of the 
prophetic is abroad in our times." These are words which 
can be most aptly applied to the man who has taken the name 
of Paul as he succeeds to the cathedra of Peter. In Pope Paul 
VI we can indeed see with awe that something of the prophetic 
is abroad in our times. 

We have a Pope, whose name is Paul. And in him we have, 
as Monsignor John Clancy has so appropriately entitled his 
splendid biography, "an apostle for our time." Monsignor 
Clancy has performed an admirable service in giving us this 
excellent and timely life of John Baptist Montini. I commend 
his work highly, not only for the valuable biographical matter 


he has gathered but for the meaningful insights he discloses as 
he presents this apostolic life of our Holy Father. By knowing 
the past of Pope Paul we can predict with joyful enthusiasm, 
our future. 

Archbishop of Boston 


Foreword by Richard Cardinal Gushing vii 

Author's Preface xiii 

1 The Home in Brescia 1 

2 "Don Battista" 18 

3 Vatican Beginnings 46 

4 "Cloister of Ciphers and Secrets" 68 

5 "And So I Came to Milan" 86 

6 Mission to Milan 113 

7 Portrait of a Cardinal 130 

8 Sede Vacante 154 



9 Successor to Peter Successor to John 183 

10 The Pauline Pontificate 204 

Appendix 233 

Index 235 

Author's Preface 

He has always been considered young and yet he is sixty-six 
years old. He became a priest without ever having lived in a 
seminary, an archbishop without ever having been a parish 
priest. While still a priest he refused to be a cardinal, and in 
1958, still not a cardinal, he was considered papabile. He was 
close to Pope Pius XH for long years marked by extraordinary 
devotion and intimacy, and yet in 1954, with the Pope aging 
and ill, he was named Archbishop of Milan and left the Vati 
can. He has been called a progressive intemperately, by some, 
a revolutionary and yet during Vatican Council n his was a 
muted voice, speaking only infrequently, and then words of 
calm moderation. 

More often spoken of as a skilled diplomat than priest, 
and as lacking in human warmth and concern, his eight years 
as the loving and beloved archbishop of Milan far overshad 
owed the more spectacular thirty years of Vatican diplomacy. 
Called to the Vatican by the stern and conservative Pope Pius 
XI, formed by the great but exigent Pius XII, then raised to 
the cardinalate by the cheerful destroyer of no longer viable 
traditions, Pope John XXm, John Baptist Montini, now 
reigning as Paul VI, possesses a vast and somewhat puzzling 



experience of the Church, her people, and of the world. It is 
an experience shaped and personalized by the extraordinary 
complex of qualities which distinguish him brilliantly diffuse, 
and of dimensions which defy easy categorization. 

There is, in this attempt to tell his life, a beginning to be 
made, an apology and explanation to accompany it. This is the 
life of Paul VI as it has been led until his accession to the papal 
throne, and an account of the first days of his pontificate. Most 
of the facts presently available are here, something of the 
nuance of his life, some hints, some shadow a beginning. 

Four months after his election we are still on the threshhold 
of his pontificate. To anticipate it is foolhardy. Yet there are 
signs and portents in Pope Paul's sixty-six years which the 
world may read and ponder as it offers him its hopes and its 
love in his first days on the throne of Peter. A Brescian by 
birth, a Roman by career, a Milanese by adoption, and now 
Pope to the world to His Holiness, Paul VI, this book is 
offered in loving and devoted remembrance. 



New York Feast of Saint Augustine 


1. The Home in Brescia 

Half hidden by ancient plane trees, the stone of its facade 
bleached and weathered, the parish church of Concesio, dedi 
cated to Saint Anthony, bears the scars of age and of succes 
sive remodeling with a dignity which befits a church of its 
antiquity. First built in the late 1600's, it is a church in the 
baroque style which replaces one that was new in the days 
when Alexander VI was Pope, when the discovery of the 
new Indies by Columbus was news at the court of Spain, and 
when the plains of Lombardy, in which the village of Con 
cesio lies, were periodically ravaged by war and plundered by 
fierce condottieri, mercenaries under arms to warring states 
and nobles, living off the land and the people. 

Concesio itself, at the entrance to the valley of Trompia in 
the foothills of the Italian Alps, has drowsed through the cen 
turies, remaining a small center of the rich farming country 
which surrounds it, while seven miles away the city of 
Brescia has grown out to reach and almost engulf it. Today 
the village shares in the general prosperity of northern Italy, 
and under the impact of growing industrialization is losing 
much of the appearance and mood which characterized it at 
the beginning of the century. Then it still possessed the quiet 



freshness and pace which drew well-to-do Brescians out of 
the city from time to time to live in their country houses. 
These homes still stand in the old quarter of Concesio, eight 
eenth-century in style, most of them two stories high and built 
around a courtyard brilliant with flowers and showing a dis 
creet face to the street. The windows are shuttered, the huge 
outer doors closed, the only touch of life the geraniums flow 
ering on the wrought-iron balconies over the entry ways. 

A modest village Concesio, and yet with a certain pride of 
place. It has given four bishops to the Church: Count Fran 
cesco Landrone, born in 1600; Count Sebastian Lodrone, in 
1643; Giovanni Battista Bosio, former archbishop of Chieti, 
in 1892; and in 1897, on September 26, Giovanni Battista 
Montini. The last on this list, the second son born to Giorgio 
and Giuditta Alghisi Montini, today sits in the seat of Peter 
as Pope Paul VI, the 262nd successor of the Prince of the 

The Montini family, while not of the nobilita blasonata, 
that is, of the high nobility, with armorial bearings, was an 
cient and respected, members in those waning years of the 
nineteenth century of the highly selective Brescian elite, pro 
fessional, intellectual, profoundly Catholic. In their begin 
nings they had belonged to the lesser nobility which in the 
fifteenth century, as the feudal and military castes began their 
decline, slowly emerged into provincial prominence. 

Giorgio Montini, born in 1860, was a ruggedly handsome 
man of average height, the head high-domed and narrow, the 
ears slightly prominent, the eyes steady and clear above the 
aquiline nose and carefully trimmed mustache. He dressed 
meticulously, even elegantly, and was distinguished as a 
young man for his courtly and reserved manner. In his thirty- 
seventh year, at the time of his son's birth, he was comfortably 
established financially and free to pursue his passion for ideas, 
for politics, and for journalism. Although he had studied law 


at the University of Padua, he chose not to practice. He was 
an untiring initiator. He shared in the founding of the La 
Scuola Publishing Union, of the San Paolo Bank of Brescia, 
of the Morcelliana publishing house. Later in life he was to 
receive from Pope Benedict XV the leadership of the Catholic 
Electoral Union of Italy one of the spearheads of Catholic 
Action in the country, and he was to be its last president. 

Thus he stood at the very center of the cultural and eco 
nomic life of the city of Brescia, called the most Catholic in 
Italy, and the Montini home was alive with the ferment of so 
cial and political and cultural ideas which possessed the 
Catholic Italian intellectuals at the beginning of the century. 
To it came some of the most significant figures of the time 
Bazoli, Longinotti, Tovini, Murri. These are names which 
symbolized the struggle of fervent men to articulate on a po 
litical level their commitment to Christian principles in gov 
ernment, at a time in Italy of vast religious indifference and 
hostility to religion on the part of its political leaders, of 
anticlericalism, and all the other dreary baggage which ac 
companies assault on religion and its estrangement from 
public life. 

With the fall of the Papal States in 1870, Pius DCs answer 
to the usurping House of Savoy was the non expedit, an advice 
to Catholics to abstain from presenting themselves as candi 
dates for political office or from voting, acts which would im 
ply a recognition of the occupation of Rome and of the in 
fringement of papal rights. For nearly half a century, from 
1870 to 1919, the non expedit would keep the men most 
capable of counteracting the atmosphere of secularism from 
taking part in the government of their country. The vacuum 
was filled, in part, by Catholic Action in the religious and so 
cial spheres, but there were those who felt that there should 
be men in government to give witness to Christian principles. 

The great political challenge of the day for Catholics was 


breaking through the isolation from national life which fol 
lowed on the occupation of Rome, leaving them living mar 
ginal lives as Italians in order to protest an injustice as Catho 
lics. Giorgio Montini succeeded in creating in his area an 
understanding with the moderate wing of the liberals of the day. 
He fought the famous Zanardelli and the Socialists with all his 
vigor, thus helping to create the basis for the Popular Party 
to whose formation he, together with Don Luigi Sturzo, made 
a notable contribution. 

Sturzo, another giant of the period, was slight, ascetic, 
soft-spoken, but with a dynamism which bespoke his total 
conviction. He was bom on November 26, 1871, in Calta- 
girone, a town of central Sicily. After his ordination as a 
priest, he pursued graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian 
University in Rome and returned to the Caltagirone seminary 
to teach philosophy and sociology. As deputy mayor and then 
mayor of Caltagirone, Don Sturzo gained experience in civic 
affairs and a knowledge of the needs of the people. His idea 
for a preponderantly Catholic political party did not win the 
support of many members of Italy's Catholic hierarchy, but 
he persisted stubbornly. Out of his brilliance and persist 
ence was to come the Popular Party, formed in 1919, after the 
First World War, when Benedict XV withdrew the non ex- 
pedit. As a member from Brescia, Giorgio Montini was to 
represent the Popular Party in three legislatures of the king 
dom, from 1919 until 1926. When the Popular Party divided 
on the question of supporting Fascism, the clerical moderates 
went over to the side of Mussolini, but Giorgio Montini was 
not among them. He continued to support in Parliament 
the party's original principles, although he saw his friend 
Don Sturzo, stricken and ill, begin his lonely exile in England 
and then in the United States. In 1926 the Popular Party was 
suppressed by Mussolini, and Montini retired to Brescia, con- 


tinuing to write and speak about freedom while he saw his 
country slip more deeply into Fascism. 

In a long letter to a friend, written in 1940, he stated: "For 
a long period of years I was counselor of the commune and a 
member of other public administrations and Catholic proj 
ects; for twenty-five years provincial counselor; from 1913 to 
1920, assessor of the commune of Brescia. In 1917, I could 
not refuse, because the offer came from the highest authority 
[the Pope], the presidency of the electoral union of Italian 
Catholics, one of the large components then constituting 
Catholic Action, but it was not a position suited to my 
talents, nor could I divide my time between Rome and Brescia 
where there were other obligations to fulfil; thus I resigned 
in 1918. In 1919 I was elected to the Chamber, and I re 
mained there for three legislatures, without praise, but then, 
too, without blame." 

With the defeat of Italy in the Second World War and its 
decision to become a republic, the Popular Party, seemingly 
so long dead, rose from the grave in 1944. In the general elec 
tion of 1948 and under the leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, 
it was given a mandate, under its new name of Christian 
Democratic Party, to lead Italy into the brilliant recovery of 
its postwar years. Don Luigi Sturzo returned from exile and 
resided in Rome as the elder statesman, honored and con 
sulted by Christian Democratic leaders until his death in 1959. 
But Giorgio Montini did not live to see this victory. He died 
in the war-troubled year of 1943, after a life of contribution 
to a future he would not witness. 

Perhaps his greatest role was played as a journalist. For 
thirty-one years (1881-1912) he was publisher and editor of 
the Brescian daily // Cittadino, He was only twenty-one when 
Giuseppe Tovini, a lawyer and a pioneer in Catholic Action in 
Brescia, called him from the University of Padua to this post. 


Under Giorgio Montini's direction the daily was a paper both 
of information and formation, courageous and progressive in 
its defense of Catholic teachings during the many years of 
his association with it, long afterward to retain the impress 
he made upon it. 1 The Germans, during their occupation of 
Italy during the Second World War, were outraged at // Cit- 
tadino's insistence on freedom and justice, and silenced it. 
But from one of its old issues, that of March 28, 1909, there 
comes alive the spirit of the man who was father to Paul VI. 

Addressed by Giorgio Montini to Catholics who were wary 
of any alliance with the liberal ideas of the day, these words 
have a crackle and thrust which is almost startling: "You have 
the air of men who, having slept for thirty years, awaken sud 
denly and believe yourselves to be the ultimate expression of 
modernity. You fell asleep in 1880, in days when Catholics 
were without organization, without strength, distrustful of 
themselves, trampled by their adversaries. And since you have 
been asleep, you have not seen your fellows rise day by day 
from their abject situation, animated by a great faith, jealous 
of their rights . . . determined to recapture completely their 
civil identity, proud of their renewed energies and of the new 
social duties to which a great responsiblity and inspired voice 
calls them. Something else you have forgotten: Forty years 
ago you fell asleep with political formulas which could inspire 
a people with enthusiasm for their political potential . . . 
but now these people prefer the advance of a social program 
to sterile political ideas. . . . With Catholic social action we 
have been able to advance a complete system of ideas and of 
healing and progressive work. . . . You continue to sleep!" 

Long years after these words were written, just one week 
after being raised to the Papacy, Giorgio Montini's son, Gio- 

1 Count Sforza once made the statement that the most deadly ene 
mies of the Italians are nationalistic vanity and literary overemphasis. 
Giorgio Montini suffered from neither malady nor did his newspaper. 


vanni Battista, was to speak of his father, the journalist, to the 
newspaper men and women of the world gathered in Rome to 
cover the conclave which had elected the new Pope: "Should 
We be required to say what consciousness of his profession 
animated him, We believe that, without being swayed by af 
fection, We could outline the profile of a person who con 
sidered the press a splendid and courageous mission in the 
service of truth, of democracy, of progress; in a word, of pub 
lic welfare. But We refer simply to this fact not to give praise 
to that most worthy man who was so very dear to Us, but to 
tell you gentlemen of the press how Our mind has an inclina 
tion to sympathy, esteem and confidence for what you are 
and what you do. We can almost say that Our family educa 
tion makes Us one of you! That it makes you colleagues and 

As the journalists broke into thunderous applause and the 
Pope smiled in acknowledgment, one could almost sense his 
nostalgia for those distant days when there had been a family 
together in a home, a home in which the father was a journal 
ist, with that compulsion which all good journalists share of 
making people aware of their time and of their world. He 
wanted his sons to live in their century, to embrace reality. 
He taught them to be progressive; he gave them an interest in 
social questions. 

He had a profound influence on young Giovanni Battista. 
The latter's gifts as an organizer, his involvement in social 
questions, his charity., his intense interest in art and philoso 
phy, his love of writing, his commitment to all the aspects of 
modern life these were to come to him from his father, as in 
his home he received the most modern of educations, free 
from the narrowness and provincial flavor which character 
ized so many homes in those years before the First World 
War. Above all, it was a home in which the faith was strongly 
lived. Three years before his death, Giorgio Montini was to 


write: "In my long life I have assisted at the sunset of men, of 
parties, of ideologies which appeared indestructible. But one 
thing with my eyes I have seen overcome the times and the 
tempests: this rock on which I stand my faith which I have 
always sustained. It consoles me indescribably, and in this 
vision I prepare for the inevitable sunset of my life. . . ." 2 

The wife of Giorgio Montini, Giuditta Alghisi, was a 
fragile, shy woman, born of an excellent family of the lesser 
nobility, in Verolovecchia and educated in Milan by the Suore 
Marcelline. At the time of her second son's birth (Ludovico 
had been born in 1896), she still had the clear, unlined com 
plexion of a schoolgirl; pictures show her hair worn in the 
pompadour fashion of the day, a high-collared dress making 
her face appear somewhat plump, eyes heavy-browed, lips 
full and gently curved. She was a perfect counterpoint to her 
husband, restrained where he was impetuous, light and sooth 
ing where he tended to be heavy, calming him when he ex 
ploded with indignation over some pettiness or injustice. She 
shared his sense of commitment to the world in which they 
lived and was devoutly religious. A leader of the Catholic 
women of Brescia, she was not content as were so many in 
those days to keep to the house in a kind of elegant and 
christianized purdah. She is still remembered for her gener 
osity to the poor. 

Her interest in public affairs was as wide as her husband's 
and as her sons' was later to be. Ludovico would become a 
member of Parliament, and her third and last son, Francesco, 
a doctor and a leader in the resistance movement during the 
Second World War. The second son especially was to become 
a balanced blend of the qualities possessed by his two parents. 
He would be influenced, too, by what he saw and remem 
bered of the life in their home in Brescia, filled, it always 
seemed, with the vital and intelligent leaders of the city and 

2 Letter to Dr. Comotti, March 13, 1940. 


the province someone always underfoot, ready to argue, 
and to laugh, at the house on the Via delle Grazie. It was no 
wonder that Giuditta Montini, in anticipation of the birth of 
her second son, determined to seek the peace of the country 
house in Concesio, so that her baby might be born away 
from the noise and excitement of the city. 

The house in Concesio where Giovanni Battista was born 
still stands, at Via Vantini No. 14 (then No. 16) and it is 
largely unchanged. There is the same courtyard, green with 
plants and ivy, the shed for the farm equipment, the coach 
house. The section of the house once occupied by the family, 
the noble wing, passed by inheritance years ago to a cousin of 
the Pope, the engineer Vittorio, and he occupies it today, to 
gether with his family, during the summer months. The serv 
ants' wing and the section occupied by those who worked the 
Montini property is now rented by six families. The rooms of 
the house are large and austere, without frivolity, the furni 
ture old and massive. The walls with their pictures of saints, 
the library filled with religious books, are an evidence of the 
atmosphere of the Montini home. 

Four days after their baby was born, Giorgio and Giuditta 
Montini climbed into their carriage and rode to the parish 
church to have the infant baptized. It was the 30th of Sep 
tember, 1897. "It was on that day that I was really born," 
Giovanni Battista was to say later. He was the fiftieth child to 
be born that year in Concesio, and the pastor, Giovanni 
Fiorini, writing in his rural hand which made the r's appear 
like v's, entered the information in the baptismal records of 
the Church of San Antonio, on page 51, under date of Sep 
tember 30, 1897: "Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria 
Montini, son of Dr. Giorgio and Giuditta Alghisi, born on 
the 26th at 10 P.M., was today baptized by me, Giovanni 
Fiorini, Archpriest. The godfather, the Cavaliere Enrico de 


Manzoni of Brescia." This name of Giovanni Battista the 
child would bear until, sixty-six years later, he himself as 
Pope would choose the name of Paul. After his election he 
would hear his own name no more, nor would he again be 
addressed by it until after his death, the Cardinal Dean 
would bend over the bed on which he lay and softly caU 
"Giovanni Battista." There would be no answer and truly 
the Pope would be dead. . . . 

From the first days of the new baby's life the parents were 
concerned about him. He was small at birth, and he did not 
respond as expected to the care and love showered on him. 
The doctors decided, after the Italian fashion, that a change 
of air might do him good. Following the custom of the time 
among the upper classes, the infant was brought a few days 
after his baptism to a wet-nurse, Clorinda Peretti, who lived 
not far from Brescia in the town of Bovezzo, close enough 
for the child to be frequently visited. Signora Peretti was a 
strong, healthy woman with three children of her own 
Margherita, Giovanni and Pietro the serene type of woman 
who can always make room for one more by merely enlarging 
the scope of her care and love. The child made progress 
slowly, the young parents worried, and Giovanni Battista 
lived through the first year of his life. 

Margherita Peretti, Clorinda's daughter, remembers that 
she and her brothers used to keep the baby company, and that 
he was still with her mother in his thirteenth month. Shortly 
afterward he was taken back to the house in Brescia, against 
the doctor's advice but on the insistence of his mother. Never 
theless, the next few years of his life found him still sickly, 
and his mother, seeking a formula to make him well, shuttled 
between Concesio, Bovezzo, and her own Verolovecchia, 
where she had inherited the seventeenth-century family home. 

A photograph of Giovanni Battista taken at the age of 


three reveals enormous eyes dominating a rather peaked face, 
solemn and innocent in this first encounter with a photog 
rapher. He was plagued with frailty in these early years, and 
this made his contacts with other children few and remote, 
and had an important influence on the character of the sensi 
tive, delicate child. He was never to forget his second family, 
and as a cardinal he would visit Nina, as Clorinda was called, 
when her troubles became overwhelming and she remem 
bered the "piccolino" now a prince of the Church, who 
might help her as she had helped him when he was fighting 
for his life. 

The early and adolescent years of Giovanni Battista were to 
be unusual ones because of his health. On the 6th of June, 
1907, he made his first holy Communion at the chapel of the 
Sisters of Saint Mary the Child in Brescia; and on July 21 of 
that year he was confirmed by Bishop Giacomo Pellegrini in 
the chapel of the Jesuit Institute, Cesare Arid. This latter was 
the finest school in Brescia, located not far from the Montini 
home, on Via Trieste. Later to pass into the hands of the 
diocesan clergy, who maintain it today, it had at that time the 
high standards and demanding entrance requirements which 
the Jesuits traditionally exact. When he was confirmed there, 
young Montini, together with his brothers, was already en 
rolled at the Cesare Arici in what in Italy is called the elemen 
tary course, usually pursued from the age of six to ten, after 
which the young student would enter the ginnasio for the 
next period of his schooling, equivalent to our high school. 
Giovanni Battista followed the courses at the Institute until 

The Institute Cesare Arici had been started in 1882, 
when Giuseppe Tovini, the father of ten children, began to 
despair of their obtaining in the State schools of the time an 
education which would enable them to live Christian lives and 
at the same time have access to the best of European culture. 


He persuaded some other fathers of the city to join him in 
opening a school for the first five elementary classes. A build 
ing was rented and Jesuit priests agreed to staff it. Two years 
later, a large gift of money was offered to the school, and the 
handsome building in which little Giovanni Battista would at 
tend classes was built. Each year another class was added, 
and the lawyer Tovini's intention was realized. "Our sons, if 
they have the faith, will never be poor, and without the faith 
they will never be rich," he said. After six years of operation, 
the Ministry of Public Instruction, at the petition of Brescian 
Masons under Giuseppe Zanardelli, refused further permis 
sion to the rector, Father Zanoni, to maintain the Institute. 
The battle was fought over the next four years, with victory 
for the school finally coming in 1 892. 

Young Giovanni Battista must have heard this story when 
he asked his father about the man whose picture was set into 
one of the windows of the school. He wore no Roman collar; 
he did not look so severe as the Jesuits whose portraits lined 
the halls. "Was he a priest?" young Giovanni asked. "No, son, 
he wasn't." "Was he a holy man?" A difficult question for the 
father. "That's hard to say, son. He loved his faith and he 
loved his sons, and he fought for both. He wouldn't care 
about being called holy. Let's settle for saying he was a good 

During those years at the Jesuit Institute young Giambat- 
tista lived at home, and each morning during the short peri 
ods when his health permitted him to attend classes regu 
larly, he walked the short distance between his home and the 
school. The register in which the achievements of the students 
enrolled for the year 1908-1909 are contained reveal that in 
this period of his formal schooling he achieved the follow 
ing marks: Diligence, 10; written Italian, 8; oral Italian, 9; 
translation of Latin into Italian, 9; from Italian into Latin, 
9; oral Latin, 9; arithmetic, 7; history and geography, 9; 


general culture, 9; catechism, 10; conduct, 10. With our in 
dulgent attitude toward what children should be asked to 
learn, we are somewhat surprised to realize that young Mon- 
tini and his companions were at this time around eleven years 

Throughout his years with the Jesuits, infrequently at 
school but studying at home and passing his examinations, 
his reports abound in 8's and 9's, rarely a 7. He was always 
first. The Jesuits were famous for their severity of discipline 
and marking, a severity of which young Montini was re 
minded whenever in the corridors of the Institute he looked 
up at the portraits of Jesuits of other times and remembered 
that their successors, proud of their traditions, were not at all 
undisposed to distribute 3's and 4's to scions of some of the 
most distinguished families of Brescia. 

It could not be said that young Montini was indulged 
either because of his family or his health. Rather it would ap 
pear that under the goad of poor health (at this time it was 
determined that the cause of his almost chronic disability was 
a pulmonary weakness) he was obliged to become as pre 
cocious of will as he was of mind. His parents surrounded 
Vrim with every care and indulged him more than they did the 
other two boys, but the greatest kindness they showed him 
was the strict disciplining of his time, the ordering of the day 
in such a way as to conserve his strength. This introduced 
a rhythm of work with a minimum of play which with the 
passing of each year became the structure of his life. Later in 
the Vatican Secretariat of State and in Milan he was to be the 
wonder and the despair of all who sought to keep pace with 
him as they wryly pondered his reputation for being frail. 

Yet these must have been unhappy years for young Giam- 
battista. He was a boy, and the most disturbing awareness a 
boy can have is to feel, to know, that he is different, and. to 
experience at so early an age that isolation and loneliness 


which only maturity and grace make it possible for most men 
to support. He was not incapable of running and playing as 
did other boys, but he could do neither well. He spent much 
of his time reading, and thus began his consuming interest 
in books. Shut off from the quick, easy contacts with young 
people of his age, he grew somewhat aloof, and some of his 
school companions, unable in the thoughtlessness of youth to 
comprehend why he was different, and irritated that he was 
always first in class, called him a grind. He reacted, but he 
did not show it. His teachers would push him forward to join 
the others in play; he would obey, but it could be for only a 
short time. 

How did he appear to others at this time? Domenico Peder- 
sini, who lives in Concesio remembers that when he was a 
boy, five or six years older than Giambattista, he and some of 
the others in the local school would go each year to the 
Montini home for the final leave-taking of the school year. 
"Those invited would take their places on seats placed against 
the walls of the courtyard. The mayor would be there, the 
inspector, the lawyer Giorgio, his wife Giuditta and their 
sons. We would recite poetry . . . and as a reward we would 
be given fruit and biscuits. I can still see young Giambattista, 
always pale, and dressed in a suit of dark velvet." 

Another resident of Concesio who remembers him is Luigi 
Bolognini, spry and alert at eighty-three. "He was a very seri 
ous little boy, with a mind and reasoning capacity far be 
yond his years. He was much attached to his mother and he 
would often run to her whenever he had some argument with 
his brothers. Giambattista never exploded into shouting or 
quarrels you understand, of course, that even in noble fam 
ilies the brothers quarrel but those few times in which they 
made him angry he would retire into himself, brooding 
over reprisals against his brothers which for the most part he 
never did anything about. He was very intelligent, but a little 


cold, very reserved, even as a boy. Only once did I ever see 
him really angry. Luisin, one of the sons of a farmer, had tied 
an old frying pan to the tail of a cat, and to tell the truth it was 
pretty funny at first to see how crazy scared that cat was when 
the pan banged along the ground. But we soon saw that the 
more the pan clanked, the more terrorized the cat was. It was 
then that Giovanni Battista, who couldn't have been more 
than seven or eight at the time, stepped forward. Mind you, he 
was a little fellow! He ordered Luisin to catch the cat and re 
move the pan. Luisin refused to do so and the two went at each 
other, their fists flying. Little Montini couldn't bear to see that 
poor cat suffer. Mind you, it was the only time I ever saw Trim 
really angry." 

The parish priest of Farfengo, Don Luigi Benassi, in the 
area where the Montinis vacationed, remembers him. "He in 
herited from his mother her great wisdom and her profound 
faith. Once at Verolovecchia when he heard the bells ring at 
three in the afternoon to remind us of the death of our Savior, 
Battista at once stopped playing and started to pray . . . 
and without any human respect or self-consciousness he in 
vited everyone, adults and children, to join with him in re 
citing the Angelus." 

"I remember, too," says Don Luigi, "once, when we were 
together at my house, my grandmother, who was waiting on 
us at table, told him that I wanted to be a priest but that there 
was no money to send me to the seminary. There was a kind 
of silence and then Giambattista said, 'Nonna Margherita, 
there is always Providence.' Then, when he could get me 
alone, he whispered, 'Be ready, you'll be going to Brescia.' 
. . . Two days later I received a letter saying that I had been 
accepted for study at the seminary with all expenses paid. I 
found out then that the president of the fund was Giorgio 
Montini, the father of Giambattista." 

One of his school companions in 1913-1914, the last pe- 


riod of study he was to have under the Jesuits at the Cesare 
Arid Institute, was Apollonio Zerla, now a dermatologist and 
bachelor who lives with his sister in Brescia. "He was the best 
of us all, and we stood in awe of him, even though he was as 
thin as a toothpick. We weren't very close, you understand. 
They were the Montinis, one of the first families of Brescia. 
Those were other times. . . . What I remember most about 
him was his vocabulary. He had a way of expressing himself, 
even with us, so proper and precise, sticking to the point, a 
style none of us shared. He wasn't with us for very long." 

And the last words from an old professor, a Jesuit in the 
Arid, Father Persico, now ninety-five but lucid in his memory 
of the thin young man with the hollow eyes. He remembers 
Giovanni Battista as the best student it was ever his pleasure 
to teach. Young Montini was very close to Father Persico, 
and it was to him that he first revealed his intention of be 
coming a priest, this when he was seventeen years old. "He 
had marvelous talents as a writer," remembers Father Persico. 
"... I taught him only physics and philosophy, but I know 
how well he wrote because he used to bring me articles to 
read which he had written for the school paper. He would 
have become a great journalist if he had taken the other road. 
Of course, he had an excellent teacher in his father. I remem 
ber that he wrote articles for the student newspaper La Fi- 
onda, which expressed the thinking of young people about 
Catholic democracy in those days." 

Giovanni Battista was seventeen when he withdrew from 
the Jesuit Institute and began the next phase of his studies as 
an extern student of the Liceo Arnaldo da Brescia. In effect 
it meant that he attended few if any classes, studying at home 
for his examinations. His tutor was Professor Miglioni di 
Viarigi, whose family still keeps the postcards of greeting 
sent by the young student when from time to time he went off 


on vacations to strengthen his health. He loved to go to the 
mountains with his brothers or friends, to hike in the clear 
air, and to come away refreshed and just the least bit less pale. 
The Easter vacation was spent in Concesio. He passed the 
summers with his family either at Concesio or Verolovecchia, 
but his favorite was Verolovecchia (once known as Verolo 
Alghisia, after his mother's family) . 

The whole family would go to Verolovecchia for a month, 
traveling on the little Brescia-Cremona train, and from the 
station by carriage to the villa where the whole town, it 
seemed, would be gathered to give welcome to "la Signora" 
and "il Signore" and "i signorini." Then the family would re 
pair together to the parish church, and having prayed, greet 
the pastor. 

There seems to have been a Christian rhythm to the lives of 
the Montinis, with that awareness of sacrament and mystery 
even in the things of earth which, in the example of his 
mother and father, profoundly influenced young Giovanni 
Battista. He was turning his thoughts, still secretly, in the 
direction of the priesthood, but he shared his hopes with only 
one person, Father Persico, and then only to question and ex 
amine his qualifications. When asked what he hoped to do with 
his life, he would smile and change the subject, as young men 
have done from time immemorial as they sought to know first 
their own hearts. 

2. "Don Battista" 

In 1916, Giovanni Battista finished Ms examinations at the 
Liceo Arnaldo da Brescia, receiving his degree with highest 
honors. He was nineteen years old, his country was at war, 
and his class, that of 1897, had been called up. He was not 
accepted; again his health was the determining factor. A 
photograph taken in 1916 at the Cesare Arid Institute shows 
him with two friends, Castagna and Cognetto, who were just 
about to leave for the front. They wear the uniform of their 
country; he is dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and sober tie, 
an almost-too-large hat on his head, the eyes enormous, the 
lips firm. The three young men stare fixedly into the camera 
as if to assist it in capturing this moment, and it is their youth 
which lives so poignantly in this photograph now almost fifty 
years old. 

For most of the young men in Europe of Giovanni Bat- 
tista's age the decision as to what they would do with their 
lives was being made for them by their governments. They 
were going to war, hundreds of thousands of them to die. 
Seminarians as well as priests were being called up, and as 
young Montini came to the decision to become a priest, a 
young priest from Bergamo, a diocese not far from Brescia, 



was being posted to one of the Italian fronts as a sergeant in 
the army. He was roly-poly, robustly healthy, cheerful; he 
grew a mustache to give himself an air of bravado; he made 
sly jokes and roared with laughter at the jokes of others; he 
was loved by all who met him his name was Angelo Roncalli 
who, as John XXIII, was to be the predecessor of Montini on 
the throne of Peter. 

Young Montini's desire to become a priest had been part of 
his life for some years, but with that prudence and caution 
which already marked him, he had remained silent about it, 
seeking only direction of a spiritual nature in its regard. Did 
he have a vocation? A good constitution was one of its re 
quirements, and he had been plagued most of his life with 
delicate health. Did he have the temperament, the stamina, 
the zeal was God's grace moving him to the first step lead 
ing to the priesthood? 

His parents knew that he was wrestling with some inner 
problem; he grew more silent, more withdrawn, even while 
leaving them no doubt of his love. They suspected the nature 
of his struggle, but the wrong encouragement, the slightest 
pressure in any direction might have shattered Ms colloquy 
with God, might have introduced some too human factor. Any 
young man considering the priesthood sees his own unworthi- 
ness; he realizes the distance he must travel; he cannot believe 
that God is calling him when all around him are young men 
he thinks far better than he and who give this vocation no 
thought; he wonders if he is deceiving himself. A boy can only 
do what Giovanni Battista did: open his soul to a priest, re 
ceive from him an assurance that he has sufficient reason to 
believe he has a vocation, and then seek out the bishop of the 
diocese and reveal his desire to him. This Montini did. With 
his parents, delighted and relieved that he had come to a de 
cision, he went to the bishop of Brescia, Giacinto Gaggia, an 
old friend of the family, and from him received permission to 


begin his studies at the seminary of the diocese and to live at 
home while doing so. 

"The best seminary in the world is a good Christian home." 
It is true that the Council of Trent, in its zeal for the reform of 
the Church, had ordered the establishment of seminaries in 
every diocese where, in isolation from the world, under the 
surveillance of superiors, and following a strict regime of 
work, study, recreation and prayer, young men might come to 
know themselves and the Christ they sought to serve. How 
ever, the ultimate responsibility for the quality and training of 
the young men in each diocese lay with the bishop himself, 
and it was Bishop Gaggia's decision that no good purpose 
would result from subjecting young Montini to rigors in 
tended to produce qualities which he knew him already to 
possess: strong discipline of self, absolute purity of life, intel 
lectual capacity and a love of Christ. 

If there was any doubt in the bishop's mind it centered not 
in the character but in the personality of Montini. A diocesan 
priest is not ordained to shut himself off from the world to 
pursue his personal spiritual and intellectual perfection, but to 
bring Christ to others, to win them to Him by every means, 
human and divine. The diocesan priest must not live solely in 
the world of ideas his is the world of people, and they must 
sense in him compassion for flawed humanity, his own and 
theirs. They must be able to welcome as a man the one who 
comes to them from Christ. The bishop may not have in 
tended, even at that time, that Giovanni Battista should serve 
in a parish of the provincial diocese of Brescia. Montini's 
mind, for one thing, was too valuable not to be constantly 
challenged, something which would not be possible in the 
villages of the Brescian countryside. But the bishop had to 
know, before in conscience he could ordain him, what he had 
to know about all his candidates: that the priesthood which 
would come to Giovanni Battista would be for others, not 


merely for himself; that no matter how frail he was now and 
would remain, he would be willing to spend and to be spent. 
Was he too shy, too withdrawn, too introspective, too cold to 
give himself to others? These also were questions which the 
bishop asked himself before coming to his decision. 

For the next three years young Giovanni Battista lived 
quietly at home, but attended classes with other students for 
the priesthood who lived in the seminary in Brescia under the 
rectorship of Father Mose Tovini, nephew of the founder of 
the Arici. The seminaries of the time were not distinguished 
for their emphasis on social and political questions, many of 
them narrow and provincial as opposed to catholic in their 
concern for life and men. But at home this son of the Montinis 
listened and shared in the conversation in the house on Via 
delle Grazie. While at the seminary he studied the usual 
courses in philosophy and theology and church history and 
scripture, at home he continued to grow in knowledge of the 
political and social forces shaping the world, a world which 
was to emerge so changed after the war that was convulsing 
Europe, a world of which he was very much aware. 

There was always a balance in the forces that shaped Gio 
vanni Battista intellectually. He lived in no ivory tower; his 
father, the practical journalist who was soon to enter the 
Italian Parliament, would not have tolerated it. Nor would 
Giorgio Montini's son ever become a priest fit only for sacristy 
musings, remote from the currents of his time. His condition 
of health, seemingly such a burden and impediment, was one 
of the contributory factors in the shaping of his life. It kept 
him at home, and it was in this home he learned to love free 
dom, to know that it had to be fought for over and over again. 
He learned the power of the written and spoken word, the 
necessity for a man not only to be good but to be committed, 
to be an apostle of the good, a communicator of truth. 

A communicator of the truth was what his father had al- 


ways sought to be, and in these years of testing his son sought 
to be one too, but on a level and in a manner and with a success 
geared to his youth and calling which enormously pleased 
Bishop Gaggia. The young man spent much time teaching 
catechism to children preparing for their first holy Commun 
ion at the Sanctuary delle Grazie, and also although with 
marginal success to older children at the Oratory of Saint 
Philip Neri, in the time assigned after school when they 
longed to be out playing. The serious young man with the 
gentle face and voice spoke to them about the things of God; 
he did not seem to mind too much when they shuffled their 
feet to remind him that the time was up. In the parish of San 
Giovanni he organized a little Company of San Luigi, the 
saint of purity; it lasted only so long as he with his enthusiasm 
was around to sustain it. 

He loved children and young people generally, and they 
responded to him. Often he was found with the boys of the 
student Association Alessandro Manzoni and with the staff of 
the student newspaper La Fionda, which he and Andrea 
Trebeschi, later to be a lawyer and to die at Dachau, founded 
to speak of democracy and to combat on a student level the 
anticlericalism and other antichurch attitudes of the time. Its 
title, meaning "The Slingshot," bespeaks a youthfulness and 
a brashness, a kind of independent nonconformity which it 
is interesting to discover at this point in Montini's develop 

The boys of the Association were poor for the most part, 
with the problems and needs of poor boys everywhere. He 
gave them affection and attention; he visited their families; he 
interceded with their fathers all with that unaffected manner 
which bespoke his breeding but which lacked any note of 
condescension. His boys loved "Him as young people were al 
ways to do, and his greatest joy as a priest would be to spend 
his time among the young. Again his health played a role. 


Having been denied many of the normal contacts with young 
people of his own age while he was growing up, now that he 
seemed to have somewhat outgrown his disability, he found 
that he had a natural facility in communicating with them, an 
instinctive understanding of them, and that they responded in 
kind. There was no longer any doubt in his bishop's mind that 
the priesthood of Giovanni Battista Montini would be for 

On November 21, 1919, he received his ecclesiastical garb 
from Monsignor Defendente Salvetti, and became known, al 
though still half a year away from ordination, as "Don Bat 
tista," Don being the affectionate, informal term of address 
for a priest in Italy. He seemed slimmer than ever in the black 
cassock, the white collar immaculate against his fair skin. 
The gravity which had always marked him seemed to deepen; 
these three years had given linn insights into his vocation, its 
scope and its obligations which might have been terrifying to 
one less prepared than he. When, on May 29, 1920, he was 
ordained a priest by Bishop Gaggia, and kneeling before the 
prelate, his young hands clasped by those of the old man, he 
promised obedience and reverence to him and his successors, 
he rose no longer only a member of the Montini family but a 
priest to all men. 

His first Mass was offered in the Sanctuary delle Grazie in 
Brescia in the presence of his family and friends, among 
whom were proudly numbered "his boys." He wore a chasuble 
made from the wedding-gown of his mother, and it was to her 
and to his father that he first brought Communion at that 
Mass, as it had been they who had been the first to kiss his 
anointed hands on the day of his ordination. 

As a priest he was to spend little time in the diocese of 
Brescia. Already the bishop had formulated his plans for the 
young man, but for a while Don Battista was to exercise his 
ministry in Verolanuova, a suburb of Brescia. A story is still 


told with sly delight of the new priest who one day, while 
walking through the neighborhood, looking frail and wan in 
his cassock, his wide clerical hat sitting squarely on his head, 
was spotted by a good-hearted farmer who stood aghast at the 
slightness of his figure. Running into his chicken-house, he 
picked up a handful of eggs and brought them to the startled 
young passer-by. "Here, here, Don Battista," he said, "take 
these along; they'll do you a world of good!" How to carry the 
eggs was something of a problem, but to refuse would have 
embarrassed the man. So Don Battista carefully removed his 
hat, dropped the eggs into it, and with a hearty "Grazie" to 
the farmer strode off down the road. His father roared with 
laughter that night when he told him the story. 

He celebrated his twenty-third birthday with his family, and 
on November 20 he left for Rome, sent by his bishop to live 
at the Lombard College in the Via del Corso and pursue his 
studies in philosophy at the Gregorian University maintained 
by the Jesuits, and simultaneously to take courses in the fac 
ulty of letters at the University of Rome. His capacity for work 
was being challenged; his future was being shaped. And he 
was in Rome! 

It could not be said that Don Battista entered fully into the 
life of Rome in this first year of the 1920's. He lived the cir 
cumscribed life of the Lombard College just reopened after 
the war under the rectorship of Monsignor Ettore Baranzini, 
the present archbishop of Syracuse with its routine and re 
strictions, the first to which young Montini had been subjected 
outside of his home. His was the life apart of all young men 
who go to Rome for their seminary studies or to continue their 
education as priests, and he was as occupied as anyone must 
be who is pursuing degrees in two different universities, study 
ing languages, and at the same time trying to exercise an 
apostolate to others through his priesthood. He was still being 


formed, but as much by the events of the day as by his studies. 
Italy, in 1920, dissatisfied with the scant fruits of victory after 
the First World War, was a country restless and convulsed as 
it took the first tentative, probing steps, which were soon to 
become giant ones, leading in 1922, to Fascism and Benito 

The name of the Fascist dictator was to have personal as 
well as historical meaning to the Montini family. Don Bat- 
tista's father had been elected to the Parliament in 1919, and 
was in Rome when his son arrived to take up residence at the 
Lombard College. As a member from Brescia of the Popular 
Party, Giorgio Montini was among the minority urging cau 
tion, for there were already signs that the Italian State was 
tending toward totalitarian government. The ideas and ideals 
of the Popular Party were the antithesis of totalitarianism. It 
proclaimed its Christian character, and was liberal in uphold 
ing civil and political liberties as the right of all, without party 
monopolies or prejudice against religion, race or classes. Such 
sanity, especially sanity clothed in Christian garments, was 
not to appeal to the Italian government at the time, Although 
the Popular Party had won 99 seats in Parliament out of 508 
in the election of 1919, and was to do more than any other 
Italian organization to bar the way to Fascism, Mussolini con 
tinued to tighten his grip on the country. 

The young student at the Lombard College could, of course, 
have taken no part in the battle being waged by Giorgio 
Montini and his colleagues, but he knew of the battle and of 
the principles it involved. From those days forward he was 
always to show an aversion for any form of dictatorship or 
curtailment of fundamental liberties. 

On January 22, 1922, Pope Benedict XV died suddenly. 1 

1 The fourth Pope since the Kingdom of Italy took possession of 
Rome, Benedict XV was the first at whose death the Italian government 
lowered the flags to half-mast in token of mourning. 


A sad little man who has deserved better of history, he had 
spent his strength during the First World War in trying to 
bring about peace between the nations in conflict. Although 
he had been excluded from the Peace Conference, it was to be 
belatedly acknowledged that his peace proposals of 1917 
were closely paralleled by Wilson's Fourteen Points of the next 
January. He was a man of enormous capacity and personal 
charm, without the qualities of genius but possessed of a vast 
prudence and patience. Small, frail and ugly, he had worked 
indef atigably to bring about recognition of the Church's moral 
influence in the world. His diplomatic skill had softened old 
bitternesses between Italy and the Papacy and a rapproche 
ment now appeared possible. The war had convinced the 
Vatican that an Italy more than ever nationalist would never 
surrender Rome as its capital. On its side the Quirinal had 
come to recognize that however many governments come and 
go, the Papacy would not renounce its claim to independence 
of any temporal power. While Benedict XV did not fail to 
reiterate the protest of his predecessors against dependence 
upon the Kingdom, it now appeared that a solution would not 
be held incompatible with a nominal amount of territory, one 
sufficient to house the offices and staff of the Holy See, the 
palaces of the Vatican and of the Lateran, the summer resi 
dence of the Popes at Castelgandolfo, and certain other papal 
possessions such as churches and sanctuaries within the city 
of Rome and in other parts of Italy. 

During the war Italy, watching the growing prestige of a 
Papacy stripped of secular sovereignty, had come to realize 
that there was a power other than that derived from the pos 
session of Rome and of the old Papal States, and that this 
power was coming to be recognized more and more by other 
nations. At the beginning of Pope Benedict's pontificate only 
fourteen States had been represented at the Vatican; at his 
death the number had grown to twenty-six. After the conflict 


was over, his worldwide appeals had saved thousands from 
starvation in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Benedict XV, the frail, sensitive nobleman was succeeded 
by the archbishop of Milan, Achille Ratti, former prefect of 
the Vatican Library and former nuncio to Warsaw, a rugged, 
forthright man as intransigent in his way as the mountains he 
loved to scale. 2 As his reign began, the Church was girding 
herself anew to deal with the forces being shaped in the world 
by the rise of Communism and Fascism; it was cautiously 
willing to cooperate in bringing order and harmony to Italy, 
but determined to maintain its allegiance to freedom and hu 
man dignity. During the reign of Pope Pius XI, Mussolini 
would lead his "march on Rome" and become the dictator of 
Italy; a dictator would seize power in Germany; Italy would 
invade Ethiopia; the civil war in Spain would explode, and the 
doughty Pontiff would leave the world just as it sought to com 
mit suicide with the beginning of the war in 1939. In fearless 
encyclicals he denounced Fascism, Nazism and Communism; 
he sought to effect a transfusion of the spiritual and moral and 
intellectual forces of the Church into the arena of world affairs. 
Inheritor of the Roman Question, perhaps his greatest his 
torical achievement was to bring about in 1929 the Lateran 
Treaty 3 in which the Italian government recognized the in 
dependence and sovereign power of the Papacy over its do- 

2 Sir Alec Randall, secretary, at this time, of the British Legation to 
the Holy See, in his book Vatican Assignment (London: William 
Heinemann, Ltd.) refers to his "strict discipline,'* his "uncompro 
mising austerity"; describes him as "independent and unyielding." Dur 
ing his Milan years he was known as a "clerical liberal": a man closer 
to the ideas of Leo XIII and Rampolla than of Saint Pius X and Merry 
del Val. 

3 Of Pope Pius and the Lateran Treaty, Randall says (op. cit., p. 58) : 
"It needed someone of a dictatorial nature to clinch an agreement with 
a dictator." 1921 was the year in which Pope Pius made his famous re 
mark about being willing to negotiate with the devil. 


main of the Vatican State and its extraterritorial possessions, 
an independence and sovereignty which the Holy See had al 
ways contended that it possessed. 

In the first year of Pius XTs pontificate, 1922, the serious 
twenty-five year old priest from Brescia, immersed in the task 
of gaining two doctorates, was called to the attention of Mon- 
signor Giuseppe Pizzardo, the newly appointed Undersecre 
tary of State at the Vatican. One of Pope Pius' first acts had 
been to confirm as his Secretary of State the Lord Cardinal 
Pietro Gasparri; and his assistant, Monsignor Pizzardo, small 
and birdlike, with his quick darting eyes and restless energy, 
was given, among more monumental tasks, that of recruiting 
additional personnel for the Secretariat. Father Montini had the 
intellectual capacities, the family background and priestly qual 
ities which would have recommended him in any case, and it 
was now that the generosity of the bishop of Brescia and his 
personal interest in the young man culminated in Monsignor 
Pizzardo's invitation to Don Battista to prepare himself for the 
diplomatic service of the Church. To Father Montini's mild 
protest that he was already pursuing two doctorates, Mon 
signor Pizzardo gave him an airy wave of the hand and re 
plied, "What difference does one doctorate more or less make?" 
He was to enter the Pontifical Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, 
the training school for diplomat-priests, and to continue his 
studies in canon law at the Gregorian University. His studies 
for this degree were done at the Gregorian but the degree was 
to be issued, after an examination and defense of his thesis, 
by the Milan Pontifical Seminary. 

Thus summoned in the first months of the new pontificate, 
Don Battista took the first recognizably significant step in the 
career which was to bring him to the papal throne forty-one 
years later. Entering the somewhat gloomy Academy in the 
Piazza Minerva, flanked on one side by the Pantheon, facing 
an early Gothic church built on the site of a temple to Minerva, 


he began his two-year course in languages, diplomatic style 
and history, while at the same time he continued to follow his 
courses at the Gregorian. More significantly, he was at the 
Academy to be observed and judged. The Vatican diplomatic 
service was wholly Italian in those days, 4 and the young men 
beginning their slow ascent in the Church through that service 
had to be thoroughly screened. They would hold positions of 
deep sensitivity in Rome and posts all over the world; many 
would be called from those posts to accept a cardinal's hat, 
and one of them might even, through the vote of his peers, 
ascend the throne of Peter. 

Those who had begun as Father Montini was beginning 
looked down on him from the oil paintings that covered the 
walls of the Academy. There were Pacca and Consalvi, and 
even Merry del Val; Delia Chiesa, too, who became Benedict 
XV. Pope Leo Xin had been there as a student, in the days 
when the diplomatic service was truly limited to the sons of 
nobles, and when the young priest noblemen brought their 
personal servants to care for their needs. But these were more 
democratic days, and the rooms of the servants, high on the 
fifth floor under the roof, were now occupied by students. They 
ate indifferent food, they celebrated Mass in the baroque 
chapel or in neighboring churches, attended classes in the 
library and at the Gregorian, took each other's measure and 
were in turn weighed, measured, and probed in all ways known 
to wise and cautious Rome. 

Years later, on April 25, 1951, on the occasion of the cele 
bration of the foundation of the Academy, the then Sostituto 
of the Secretariat of State, Monsignor Montini, setting forth 
the reasons for the continuation of Vatican diplomacy and its 
training school for diplomats, and emphasizing the sense of 

4 Cardinal Hinsley of Westminster made vigorous representation to 
Pius XI about the all-Italian character of the Curia, but the Pope was 


history it inculcates, had this to say: "When we were in the 
seminary we were taught to love souls, to love the parish, to 
love the diocese. Here we learned to love all peoples, to widen 
our hearts, to enlarge their scope with a magnanimity which 
is truly Roman, to open our souls to nations and to continents, 
to become aware of history in its most obscure aspects in order 
to deal with the most encompassing problems of human life. 
Here the school says to the students: you will be the servant of 
great causes and of high interests. A school, I repeat, of 
universal charity ... the Academy . . . says to its stu 
dents: the higher you rise, the greater must be your service; 
remember that to rise means to accept the weight of new re 
sponsibilities and realize what it means to be a representative: 
it is to serve as a symbol for another that is to say, he must 
increase, I must decrease. And in the measure that you rise, 
your mission will make you tremble, and you will be obliged 
to sanctify yourself by prayer and in humility for the fulfil 
ment of those duties that will be demanded of you." 

In his address to the future diplomats of the Holy See Mon- 
signor Montini defended papal diplomacy from charges that 
it was a survival of the past, "an almost ritualistic diplomacy, 
its personnel assuming traditional attitudes and recruited from 
closed social circles; a diplomacy swathed in forms and eti 
quette no longer in the spirit of our times." While he conceded 
that some of the "objections" had a certain foundation, he 
went on to say that they ignored the essential reality that "it is 
neither on such forms nor forces that the Church relies . . . 
she draws her vital forces from within." He defined the di 
plomacy of the Church as more than ever "a form of love for 
people," and added: "If civil diplomacy tends to reduce the 
antagonisms in the world by making reason prevail over force, 
and to contribute to the growth of the prosperity of individual 
States in the harmonious concert of an ever larger interna 
tional organization, it finds in ecclesiastical diplomacy almost 


a model to which it can look; not so much because of any 
technical skill that the diplomacy of the Church might display 
or any successes it might obtain (for both the one and the 
other may be lacking), but rather because of the ideal from 
which it takes its departure and toward which it tends: the 
universal brotherhood of man." 

"Does this Academy," Monsignor Montini went on to ask, 
"fulfill its mission to its students? Does it really prepare them?" 
He then chose two examples, the one, he said, illustrating 
the simplicity of spirit and the adaptability which animates the 
students of the Academy; the other an example of self- 
abnegation and of courage approaching the heroic. 

"I remember," he said, "a very young colleague at the 
Academy, who after finishing his course was assigned to a 
distant country of South America. Before leaving he acquired 
as much information as he could regarding the country to 
which he was posted. Finally we asked him: 'What conclusions 
have you reached about the country and the appointment?* 
'I have learned,' he said, 'that I will need a pair of leather 
pants in order to ride horseback.' " "And indeed he did," 
added Monsignor Montini, "because at a time when, he was 
alone and charge d'affaires, he traveled for fifteen days on 
horseback to reach a remote area in order to establish an 
apostolic vicariate." 

His other example centered in the return from behind the 
Iron Curtain of certain of his colleagues from the Secretariat 
of State. "The countries in which they had been stationed had 
broken off relations with the Holy See, and they had been 
obliged to leave. We went to the railroad station to meet them 
on their return . . . and this is what our friends said to us, 
in simple but humanly moving words: What we regret is not 
being able to stay and to suffer with our brothers.' " 

"This," said Monsignor Montini, "this is the Academy and 
these are the things which justify it." Then, addressing the 


young students who sat where once he had sat, he added: 
<c May all of you be such representatives, may all of you have 
the sense, the spirit, of this representation. Diplomacy is a 
representation. We must have the sense of being representa 
tives of Christ, of the Church. This is our purpose, and this 
is our title of glory to be able to say: *I am Christ; I am the 

In May of 1923 Don Battista was summoned by Monsignor 
Pizzardo and informed that he had been made addetto, or 
second secretary, to the nunciature in Warsaw, and that he 
was to leave immediately. He knew no reason for the appoint 
ment, an unusual one since he had not completed his course 
at the Academy; he was simply to go. There was a quick fare 
well to his parents, and armed with a diplomatic passport, he 
left Italy for the first time. 

His journey took him across Austria with its onion-domed 
churches, into Germany and across the plains of Poland, to 
Warsaw. The nuncio, Archbishop Lorenzo Lauro, who had 
succeeded Achille Ratti in Poland and was later made a car 
dinal, received Don Battista as a father. The young man so 
far from home, with his slight frame and exquisite manners, 
generated sympathy and warmth wherever he went with the 
nuncio during his few months in Poland. His manner was 
totally self-effacing, he had a prodigious capacity for work, 
and the uditore (auditor) of the nunciature, Monsignor Carlo 
Chiarlo, later one of the cardinals of the conclave which elected 
Paul VI, had no reason to regret the quiet and helpful pres 
ence of the young Brescian. Don Battista was recalled to 
Rome the following November, since it had been thought best 
not to subject him to the rigors of the Polish winter. Thus his 
test in the field came to an end. 

Father Montini returned to the Academy, his purposiveness 
sharpened by those months of practical experience, and in 
October 1924, he entered the Secretariat of State as addetto, 


was named minutante* in April 1925, and there ascending 
always to higher posts he remained until he was named 
archbishop of Milan in 1954. Those thirty years would be 
years of refining, they would distill the man until only the 
fiber of his character would remain; they would drain him of 
any residue of self until his name would become at the Vatican 
the very emblem of the perfect servitor of the Pope. His strong 
personality was not destroyed but submerged, his mind and 
will not subverted but submitted, with his priesthood his first 
passion, enriched by his perfect obedience to what he was 
asked to do. The "diplomat priest" he would be called, the 
"patrician priest" also, but his first and greatest pleasure was 
in the title "the priest of the students." It came about this way. 

Pius XI, among other of his distinctions, was to become 
known as the Pope of Catholic Action, 6 and in the first years 
of his pontificate he was encouraging in the Catholic world, 
and especially in Italy, the involvement of the laity in the work 
of the Church under the guidance of priests deputed by the 
hierarchy. In Italy it was an antidotal action to the lingering 
effects of the non expedit, to the long years of lethargy and 
indifference on the part of the country's Catholic laity who 
were content to leave the work of the Church to the priests, 
and to the equally long centuries of clerical control. There, as 
elsewhere in the world, a general awareness had not yet 
dawned that the Church's witness was in the marketplace, in 
the forum of men's activity and ideas, not a witness of worship 
only but one of social regeneration as well. 

Pope Pius was by no means the first to formulate this con 
cept; it was as old as Christianity itself and had been stressed 
by his immediate predecessors, but it was he who gave it new 

5 A minutante must read all reports on a given question, summarize 
them and integrate them into one trenchant precis. 

6 Pope Pius called Catholic Action ". . . the apple of Our eye," in a 
letter to Cardinal Bertram. 


impetus. In Italy it would become at times for the Fascists an 
irritating counterpoise to their own ambitions for dechristianiz- 
ing the country, an organized response by Catholic citizens on 
various levels of national life to attempts to deify the State, to 
restrict human rights, to subvert the young, and to dazzle 
university youth with talk of national glory divorced from 
moral principle and spiritual basis. At times it hesitated, at 
times it compromised, and even seemed at times to capitulate, 
but there were always those who came forth to give it fibre and 
a new sense of purpose. 

Monsignor Pizzardo had been appointed general chaplain 
for Catholic Action in Italy, and in 1924, at his suggestion, 
the chancery office for the diocese of Rome appointed Don 
Battista as spiritual advisor to the students of the University of 
Rome where there was a chapter of FUCI, the Federation of 
Italian Catholic University Students. Thus he entered, in his 
own words expressed years later, into "that cage of lions which 
the university students of yesterday were: they were not as re 
flective, as thoughtful as those of today." He welcomed the 
appointment as would any priest who spends much of his day 
behind a desk dealing with reports and not directly with hu 
man beings. His concept of his office was typical. There would 
be no mere strident confrontation of himself and of his students 
with those who opposed or laughed at them, no struggle for 
ascendancy with the university as battleground. Rather he 
quietly and effectively opened to his students what it meant to 
be a human being, showing them how Christianity deepens and 
enriches man's every faculty, and how every true Christian 
witnesses to the truth which is in him. 

Long years afterward, Monsignor Sergio Pignedoli, who 
knew Don Battista in those days and who would later become 
his auxiliary in Milan, was to write: "The great prestige that 
he enjoyed in the eyes of his students, both in his articulation 
of their spiritual problems and, more important, in his ability 


to resolve them, was centered in Ms assured and total concept 
of Christianity ... for him its essence lay in the interior 
formation of conscience." Yet he would have had scant suc 
cess had he not known how to enter the students' lives, to 
laugh and joke with them. This he did with an ease which 
suprised those who were already contributing to the myth of 
his coldness and aloofness. 

From his quarters at the Academy of Diplomacy he moved 
to a house on the Via Aurelia. Every minute free from his 
duties at the Vatican found him with the students, and they 
responded to his devotion first with caution and then with 
affection. They stood somewhat in awe of him. His knowledge 
of the writings of Maritain, Bergson, Spengler, Thomas Mann, 
the Church Fathers, was staggeringly impressive to their young 
eyes. He was particularly concerned that these young people, 
most of them from the middle and upper classes, should not 
live sealed off in their comfortable lives from the squalor and 
misery which abounded in Italy. Every week he led them to 
one of the most forsaken areas of Rome, the Porta Metronia, 
to touch and smell poverty and to respond as Christians to the 
need of their fellow men after the example of Saint Vincent de 
Paul, in whose name they were organized. 

In 1925, the scope of his activity was widened with his 
appointment as national assistant to the Federation of Italian 
Catholic University Students. He retained his chaplaincy at 
the University of Rome, but the area of his concern was ex 
tended to the whole of the Italian Peninsula. These were dif 
ficult and sensitive days for FUCI. Founded thirty years be 
fore, it seemed to be lacking in purposeful direction, in danger 
of becoming exhortatory and pious instead of intellectually 
militant. The Fascists were now strongly entrenched in the 
country, and the Catholic federation was a natural target for 
their attacks since it was made up of thousands of young 
Italians opposed to Fascism, although possessing membership 


in GUF, Fascist University Youth, 7 and not unwilling, in the 
way of youth, to add emphasis to principle by occasional re 
sort to scuffling. 

There were also internal difficulties for the Catholic student 
organization. 1925 was a Holy Year in the Catholic world, 
and FUCI, meeting in national congress at Bologna, sent a 
telegram of homage to the King, unaware of the significance 
of this move in the tense and delicate situation of Church- 
State relations in Italy. Young people are not given to weigh 
ing all the consequences of their actions, and the members of 
FUCI who voted the homage were unaware of, or at least gave 
little thought to, the fact that the Roman Question was still a 
living, burning issue in Italy and at the Vatican, and that al 
ready tentative steps were being taken to resolve it. Anything 
which tended to intrude on the negotiations, no matter how 
casually, was bound to cause concern at the Vatican, deter 
mined after more than fifty years to put an end to the impasse. 
It was felt that the directors of FUCI should have been more 
sensitive. As a consequence of internal difficulties, a change of 
leadership was decided; Don Battista was appointed assistant 
and a new president was appointed in the person of a young 
man, Igino Righetti, barely twenty, who was to become as 
close a friend to Don Battista as anyone in his life. 

The two succeeded to their posts immediately, and Don 
Battista was on hand to greet the members of the Bologna 
congress when they arrived in Rome to obtain the Holy Year 
indulgences and, if possible, to be received by the Pope. It is 
said that Pius XI, to evidence his displeasure at the telegram 
of homage to the King, refused to receive them, and it was 
Don Battista who had to announce the decision. They had all 
gathered at the Church of Saint Philip Neri, not far from the 
Vatican, prepared to march in procession to hail the Holy 

7 Made necessary by the social and economic restrictions imposed by 
the Fascists on those not joining their organizations. 


Father. When they were told that there would be no reception, 
the young people sat stunned. One of the chaplains called out: 
"There are some occasions when the Te Deum should be sung, 
and others when the De Profundis is called for!" And Don 
Battista, standing near the tomb of St. Philip, intoned the Te 

This incident indicates the difficult situation in which Don 
Battista had been placed. He was on the staff of the Vatican 
Secretariat of State and he was leader, together with Righetti, 
of the Catholic students of Italy. From one side came exhorta 
tions to caution, to reserve; from the other the impetus to 
action, to witness. It was the first important act of diplomacy 
which Montini was to effect: the reconciliation in his own life 
of these two currents, as well as the guiding of the student 
organization between the Scylla of Vatican admonition and 
the Charybdis of youthful impetuosity. Righetti was as one 
with Montini in his thinking. Born in Rimini,, where he had 
founded a small journal, the Ariminum, he once wrote: 'To 
live dangerously is a program which too many have set for 
themselves. Sacred Scripture tells us, on the contrary, that he 
who loves danger shall perish in it." Yet it seemed almost 
impossible not to live dangerously in those days. 

The headquarters for FUCI in Rome were in the Piazza 
Sant'Agostino. The first issue of their newspaper, La Sapienza 
(Wisdom), a weekly, appeared in May, 1925. It already re 
flected the Righetti-Montini emphasis that FUCI become a 
militantiy intellectual elite. To this publication Father Montini 
contributed the first of what would be a regular series of 
articles on the spiritual and intellectual challenges facing the 
young in those already distant days. "To observe, seek, study, 
this is the life of the children of light," he wrote in his first 
article. This and subsequent articles were impressive for the 
scope of ideas and problems which he presented to the young 
men and women of FUCL He was not content with vague 


generalizations; he took Ms office and Ms young people seri 
ously, an attitude reflected in these first writings in Sapienza 
and in Azione Fucina, wMch grew out of Sapienza. 

Monsignor Geremia PaccMoni, who was close to Montini 
and Righetti, is quoted as saying: "Whenever we had our 
meetings, I was the one to go to the Vatican to pick up 
Montini. It was a big problem because they let him go always 
with the greatest reluctance. And also because wherever we 
went chaos followed the Fascists followed us everywhere. 
Very often our meetings began in one city and ended in an 

The greatest disturbance took place at Macerata in 1926. 
The meeting at Macerata was planned to celebrate the thirtieth 
anniversary of FUCI's founding. It was to take place on 
August 27, 28, 29, and 30, the last day to be one of pilgrim 
age to Assisi. The editorial in the August 25th issue of Sapienza 
in urging its members to attend, said: "This will not be a 
meeting of songs and banquets. There is a heaviness and chal 
lenge in the air wMch imposes on us the obligation of a 
correct and austere gathering. FUCI wants to live it must 
live. This organization must ever be dedicated to the intel 
lectual apostolate, because to proclaim programs of action is 
nothing if we are not above all perfected by Christian virtue." 

On the eve of the meeting, representatives from Genoa 
and Turin were assaulted by Fascist thugs, but the first day of 
the reunion itself went smoothly until, at the close of the ses 
sion, the Fucini, as they were called, led by Montini and 
Righetti, marched to the university of the city to lay a wreath 
on the memorial to students fallen in the war. When the Fucini 
sought to leave the university, singing their hymn, they were 
attacked. Fascist youths, singing their own militant, "To arms, 
we are Fascists!" grabbed the FUCI flags and the battle was 
on. At first the national police stood by, then moved in lei 
surely. Seven Fucini were hurt; two were arrested, one of them 


a priest. No Fascists. Protests were made to the authorities by 
those in charge, including Montini. A story is told that when 
the Fascist governor complained to Don Battista that a young 
Black Shirt had received a serious head wound, the chaplain 
said, "Your Excellency, it really was not our boy's fault. The 
Fascist was tugging so hard at a flag being held in the air that 
finally the student simply could not help letting it come down 
on the other chap's head." 

The Fucini withdrew from Macerata and went to Assist, 
where in the town of the gentle Saint Francis even the Fascists 
were somewhat more subdued. From Assisi they went to 
Rome, this time to be received warmly by Pope Pius. It is told 
that the eye of the Holy Father, who prided himself on being 
informed about everything, fell on one of the students who was 
still quite heavily bandaged as a result of the fracas at Macerata. 
He asked about the young man's injury and listened as Mon 
tini and Righetti explained what had happened; then, turning 
to poor Monsignor Pizzardo, with annoyance showing in his 
heavy voice, the Pope asked: "And why don't you tell me 
about these things too?" 8 

After the Later an Treaty of 1929, the tension between the 
Fucini and the Fascists subsided, but in 1931 it exploded 
again. The meetings of FUCI were raided, their halls burned, 
the students assaulted, and finally all Catholic youth organiza 
tions were suppressed by the government. Pius XI reacted 
with his famous encyclical Non abbiamo bisogno, and at one 
point the Holy See invited all those at the head of youth 
groups to take refuge in the Vatican. The struggle for the 
youth of any country can be a bitter one. In June of that year, 
Montini and Righetti decided to suspend all public meetings 
but to continue to meet secretly. This they did for a few 
months. A student of the time later wrote: "We had no doubt 
that our chaplain was one with us. We felt that a kind of 

8 The story is probably apocryphal. 


fraternal friendship united us, a friendship cemented both in 
the hours of joy and in the hours of testing." 

In October, Mussolini intervened personally, and public 
meetings of the Catholic student organization were resumed, 
but the Fascist Party stepped up its pressure and persecution, 
desirous of suppressing FUCI and leaving only their own 
youth organization, GUF. One strategem was to bypass FUCI 
as being irrelevant by assigning chaplains to GUF. Montini's 
strategy was along lines of non-collaboration, of passive resist 
ance, of preparing for the future when there would be no 
Fascism. "If we can't march with banners flying," he said 
"let us work in silence." 

He was accused by some of not taking a strong enough 
stand, of not being committed, of being too moderate, while 
the austerity which he invited the students to share as they pre 
pared themselves for the future was not at all to the liking of 
the old guard in the organization who remembered the days of 
food, laughter and song, of camaraderie based on mere "to 
getherness"; there was for them something too principled, too 
reasoned, too calculated, almost too austere, in Montini's ap 
proach. And also a disciplined lay elite was a source of 
uneasiness to many. 

But Don Battista was his father's son, and his brother 
Ludovico remembers that "when we were boys, our father 
used to say constantly, 'We must prepare ourselves to see the 
light. No easy truces for us. We must know what shoes we will 
wear; and when we are of age, off we will go!' " His father 
referred to the days he knew would come when the Church 
and Catholics would be free in Italy; his patience and good 
cheer must have irritated the extremists as much on one side 
as on the other. So, too, did his son's at this stage as it would 

There lives today on the outskirts of Brescia a man who 
thirty-five years ago was one of the priests most hated and 


feared by the Italian Fascists. His name is Father Giulio 
Bevilacqua, a member of the Congregation of the Oratory, and 
he is eighty-three years old. Before his transfer to Rome in 
1928, he was involved in constant polemics with the Fascists. 
The party newspaper, Popolo di Brescia, attacked him in an 
article appearing in 1926, and when his reply in an article 
entitled "Why I Cannot Be a Fascist" appeared in // Cittadino, 
the newspaper once directed by Don Battista's father, the latter 
paper was suspended. 

When he was removed to Rome, Father Bevilacqua was 
met by Father Montini, and for five years they lived together 
in an apartment on the Via Terme delle Daciane, on the 
Aventine. The old man says: "I used to say to him: do less 
work less, not more, do you hear? Leave a little for the 
others to do. Don't be up every night until two o'clock; it's 
bad for your health." But the advice did no good. Referring to 
Father Montini's work with the students, Father Bevilacqua 
adds: "He gathered around him a true aristocracy of faith and 
culture. He knew how to use ordinary language with the vigor 
of truth showing through, and his voice was warm and inti 
mate . . . the voice of a person who knew how to take part 
in a dialogue. ... He spoke to the young with a faith nour 
ished by the treasures of the gospels and the liturgy. And this 
faith in God manifested itself always in the whole man, be 
cause Don Battista loved the creative human spirit under its 
every aspect art, thought, culture, science. He was every 
thing to the boys, following them in their activities of each 
new day with unflagging freshness and imagination." 

On March 15, 1933 Monsignor Montini received a letter 
from Archbishop Pizzardo which read in part: "In considera 
tion of the increasing work of your important office in the 
Secretariat of State, you have repeatedly requested that I ob 
tain from the Holy Father permission for you to withdraw 
from your assignment as ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic 


University Students. . . . The Pope . . . has graciously con 
sented to allow you to dedicate all of your outstanding gifts 
to the delicate tasks of the Secretariat of State. . . . In inform 
ing you of this I cannot conceal my regret in seeing you leave 
a post which you have held for eight years and discharged 
with true love and devotion." 

Azione Fucina, the FUCI bulletin, in reprinting the whole 
letter, comments: "Monsignor Montini, in giving us the copy 
of the letter here reprinted, has expressed a formal desire that 
it not be accompanied by any comment, because only silence 
can express the sentiments of his heart at this moment. We 
cannot, however, fail to reveal that we will remain always 
closely united to him, because we will always feel ourselves 
guided by that same love for the Church of Jesus Christ and 
of his Vicar which pervaded and has been unforgettably mani 
fested to us in the work Monsignor Montini has devoted for 
eight years to our association. To speak of gratitude is su 
perfluous." Monsignor Guido Anichini, who succeeded Mon 
tini, wrote years later in his book Fifty Years of FUCI:* "Cer 
tain orders must be accepted with serenity, knowing as one 
does that superiors have their just and broad perspectives in 
such matters." Thus closed a chapter, a change made not 
without pain, but one accepted with as much generosity as 
would be the change to Milan twenty-one years later. 

Speaking of him years later, Archbishop Pignedoli said: 
"There is (in him) a natural and ever-present nostalgia for 
everything having to do with university life and its spiritual 
and cultural problems. A prime quality which Monsignor 
Montini possessed is fundamental for assisting people of any 
age, but of first importance for the young confidence. He 
himself looks at life with the confidence of the young; he sees 
even the most difficult problems with a characteristic freshness 
of eye and heart." 

8 Rome: Editrice Studium [n.d.]. 


Later the cardinal of Milan would say about these days: 
"For me it was a discovery. If I know anything I owe it all to 
these dear friends of years past, because they were for me a 
stimulus, a living lesson which I could not have received 
either from books or even from the example, shining under 
every aspect, of the world of priests." 

Montini was never to lose his interest in the Catholic stu 
dent organization. In 1936, he assisted in setting up the 
famous "Seminars of Camaldoli," weeks of study for men 
from FUCI who were later to be numbered among the leaders 
of the postwar Christian Democratic Party. Montini's recom 
mendation to them was: sociology, sociology, and more soci 
ology. On June 25, 1943, the day Mussolini fell, the Code of 
Camaldoli was proclaimed, and set forth the basis for a Chris 
tian social order in Italy. 

Montini was not there; he was at the Vatican. Righetti was 
not there he had died in 1939, at the age of thirty-five, his 
last request that his unborn baby, if a boy, be named Gio 
vanni Battista Righetti-Montini. Together they had founded 
the small publishing house, Studium, brought up to date and 
revised the magazine, Studium, giving it a Roman setting and 
control after long years of identity with Bologna. 10 Together 
they had recast the program of FUCI on more intellectual 
lines, tightened and strengthened its organization, fought its 
battles and drawn close together in the sharing of hopes and 
difficulties. Together they saw grow out of the national con 
gress of FUCI held in Cagliari, Sardinia, in the summer of 

10 Studium, the FUCI review, and its bulletin, Azione Fucina, never 
contained anything of Fascism in them, at most expressions of Italian 
patriotic sentiment. "Studium never put a grain of incense on the altar 
of Fascism. It maintained a certain cultural level at a time when the 
rest of Catholic Action was content to preach and give itself to devo 
tional practices." Richard A. Webster, "The Rebirth of the Christian 
Democratic Party in Italy," in // Mulino, Bologna, August, 1959, p. 26. 


1932, the Association of Catholic University Graduates which 
sought with notable success to give witness in professional and 
social life to what its members as students had first learned as 

In an introduction to a book on Righetti, 11 Montini wrote: 
"He remains almost as if carved in the memory of his friends 
who will not find anyone to replace him, and they will always 
feel the need of turning to him in memory, not only to feel 
themselves young and good, as is the need of those who are 
getting on in years and who have had the good fortune in the 
years of their conscience's awakening to find a companion, a 
teacher of rare merit who gave them understanding and guided 
them through adolescence into maturity, but also to relive 
conversations, cherished and persuasive as few could be/' 

During the period of their association, Monsignor Montini, 
teaching the history of pontifical diplomacy at the Academy of 
Diplomacy, found time also to publish three small volumes: 
The Way of Christ, Introduction to the Study of Christ, and 
A University Conscience. All these were the fruit of his medi 
tation on the role of the Saviour in the lives of the young, and 
they clearly show that in those days of political tension the 
emphasis of the still youthful but now balding monsignor was 
not on better and more subtle political infighting, but on 
giving a more personal witness to the Master. It was this same 
desire which found him organizing week-end retreats in the 
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls where the Benedictine 
Abbot Schuster (who was to be his predecessor in the see of 
Milan) welcomed the youths who came. 

Monsignor Montini preached every Sunday in (he Church 
of the Sapienza in Rome; he spent hours hearing confessions, 
and his charity to the poor grew to be a legend among the poor 
themselves. In 1933, still in touch with "his boys" who were 

11 Augusto Naroni, Igino Righetti (Rome: Editrice Studium, Rome 


now graduated, he founded together with them a unit of the 
Saint Vincent de Paul Society which held meetings and worked 
from the Church of Saint Anne, the little parish church of 
Vatican City. The area of their apostolate was the squalid, de 
pressed section of Primavalle. Blessed are they who go to the 
poor in the name of Christ, he told them. 

Those who thought they saw the whole man in his Vatican 
diplomatic setting saw one facet alone. If they failed to see the 
priest they did not see Montini, for it was this that marked 
everything he did. It was this quality of his priestliness, di 
recting all his other talents, which caused him in his thirty- 
seventh year to be recognized by his superiors as one who 
could make an outstanding contribution to the diplomatic 
service of the Holy See. 

3. Vatican Beginnings 

Those sensitive to their times and to the currents of those 
times knew in 1933 that they were no longer living in a world 
where, in spite of wars and the upheaval of continents, busi 
ness could go on as usual and Christianity could remain as it 
had for centuries. The violent disruption of society caused by 
the First World War had brought about the collapse of such 
cultural structures as the belief in progress toward a better 
world and the triumph of reason over brutality, into which 
Christianity had fitted naturally and comfortably. With the 
props taken away, it was slowly being revealed that while the 
average modern man still professed certain traditional beliefs, 
they had long ago been emptied of their inner reality, and that 
pseudo-spirituality or naked nihilism had gradually possessed 
men's souls. 

Europe for centuries had been ravaged not only physically 
by war but spiritually by the secularist thought born with the 
Renaissance, which had assumed control at the time of the 
French Revolution and whose final harvest was now being 
realized. Holy Russia was firmly in the grip of atheistic Com 
munism, an uneasy truce existed between the Church and 
Fascism in Italy, and in Germany the confused Catholic 



Centre Party had, in 1932, voted with the Nazis to make 
Hermann Goring the first Nazi president of the Reichstag, and 
in this year would vote for the "enabling act," effectively 
throttling the Republic and making Hitler dictator. Mussolini 
was already planning expansion in Africa, of which the rape 
of Ethiopia would be a part; Spain was building to the crisis 
of its civil war, a rehearsal for the war Hitler would launch 
against Poland in 1939. The United States, mired in depres 
sion, was hearing its new President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
vibrantly reassure his country that it had nothing to fear but 
fear itself. 

At this juncture in world history, Monsignor Montini 
would arrive each morning in the courtyard of San Damaso in 
the Vatican, walk or ride on the slow, water-propelled elevator 
to the third floor of the palace, pass through the Hall of Maps, 
saluted by the guards, and enter the Secretariat of State to 
deal with the quota of problems assigned to him. The world 
of his service was quiet, almost serene, even though it was 
aware of the most sensitive currents or convulsive eruptions in 
the Church and in the world. "It is calm and tranquil," he 
would say years later, "because it wishes to be. Because its 
supreme purpose is to seek for peace, to create peace!" * 

Although as minutante more and more important assign 
ments were being given to him, and although his opinions 
and advice were followed in many projects and areas of re 
search, Monsignor Montini was still one of many in the service 
of the Secretariat, not yet in the top echelon. He was to serve 
under three Secretaries of State, each in his way to contribute 
to his formation as a diplomat. 

The first was Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, a brilliant jurist of 
farmer stock, nicknamed "il Contadino" the peasant. He had 

1 Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State to Pius X, when asked 
what were the guiding principles of Vatican diplomacy, replied, "The 
New Testament" 


gruff geniality, the quick mind and wit of the unself conscious 
peasantry, ready to relax and make a joke, but unflagging 
and meticulous in every detail having to do with his office. 
Only in his dress was he indifferent to detail, his zucchetto 
askew, snuff stains on his cassock. He had received the red hat 
from Pope Pius X in recognition of his services in the project 
of codifying canon law. A man of great diplomatic adapta 
bility, he served as Secretary of State under two pontificates, 
that of Benedict XV and of Pius XI. It was he who rep 
resented the Vatican in the settlement of the Roman Question, 
and who, as must all Secretaries of State, had articulated per 
fectly the mind of the Pontiff, Pius XI, in these delicate 
negotiations. "Almost all Cardinal Secretaries of State in 
modern times," as Sir Alec Randall writes, "have one thing in 
common: that it is impossible to say just where the influence 
of the Secretary of State came in. ... A Cardinal Secretary 
of State is essentially self effacing in relation to the Pope he 
serves." 2 The Pope whom Gasparri served until 1930, and 
who was to advance Monsignor Montini "was a man of strict 
discipline and uncompromising austerity, aloof, an independ 
ent man, even an unyielding one, with little pliancy in his 
nature. He kept his own counsel and admitted few to his 
thinking." 3 

The man chosen by Pius XI to replace Cardinal Gasparri 
on his retirement as Secretary of State would himself be 
described in much the same words, but to these would be 
added the adjectives "baffling," "brilliant," "mercurial." This 
was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, a man of exquisite figure 
and manner, a linguist, still in his fifties, who had distinguished 
himself as nuncio to Bavaria and later in Berlin, and who 
now was at the peak of his powers and seemingly of attain- 

2 'The Pope's 'Alter Ego,' " in The Tablet (London), May 4, 1963. 

3 Alec Randall, Vatican Assignment (London: Win. Heinemann, 
Ltd., 1956). 


ment. He was to draw young Montini, whose elegance, intel 
ligence and reserve attracted him, into closer ties of work and 
responsibility, so that even at this time it came to be said, 
exaggeratedly, that Monsignor Montini's very being and per 
sonality had been absorbed into that of Pacelli. 

The final Secretary of State under whom Montini would 
serve succeeded Cardinal Pacelli when the latter became Pope 
Pius XII in 1939. Luigi Maglione was a prelate of great charm 
and dignity, former nuncio to Berne and Paris, proud of his 
Neopolitan heritage, explosive as southern Italians can be, 
but trained through the years to subdue and channel his natu 
ral self-assertiveness. He was appointed Secretary, it was said, 
because the new Pope, although preferring in those crucial 
days of 1939 to keep in his own hands the handling of the 
Church's diplomatic affairs, wished to please some of the 
cardinals who had elected him and who wished to see Maglione 
honored. When, in fact, Maglione died in 1944, he was not 

In 1937, and still under the pontificate of Pius XI, Mon 
signor Montini was named Sostituto of the Secretariat of State, 
succeeding Monsignor Domenico Tardini, who in turn re 
placed Archbishop Giuseppe Pizzardo as head of the Section 
of Extraordinary Affairs, Pizzardo having been named car 
dinal. Thus thirteen years after being called to the Secretariat 
by the then Sostituto, Pizzardo, Monsignor Montini succeeded 
to the post, a rise to which the word meteoric may in this case 
be applied. And thus, too, his name is first linked with that of 
Domenico Tardini. Together they would act as Undersecre 
taries of State while a Cardinal Secretary held office, but from 
1944 to 1954 they would serve together under Pius XII, acting 
as his own Secretary of State. 

Two more dissimilar types could not at first be imagined. 
Domenico Tardini was a Roman, and he never lost his Roman 
wit nor his impulsive, ironic, colloquial way of talking; his 


observations, scarcely diplomatic at times, were to become the 
delight of Rome. Short and stocky, his hair close cropped and 
grizzly, walking with a stoop, his face drawn and dyspeptic, 
lacking in elegance, gruff with his subordinates, he was to 
work in tandem with the tall, erect monsignor from Brescia, 
already noted for his punctilio and reserve, in a perfect com 
plement of type and talent. They possessed an instinctive af 
fection and respect for one another, because in each there was 
a total lack of self-seeking. In both cases the office sought the 
man for the excellence he possessed. 

As Sostituto (a word which cannot be adequately trans 
lated by Substitute; it is best understood as the title of one of 
the two Undersecretaries), Monsignor Montini's duty as head 
of the Section of Ordinary Affairs was to handle, with the 
assistance of his staff, informal day-to-day relations between 
the Vatican and dioceses, governments, and private individuals 
in areas which did not fall under the competence of one of the 
Roman congregations or of Monsignor Tardini's Section of 
Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, which dealt with the 
formal relationships between the Church and governments. 
The ordinary business of the Church which the Pope might 
wish to discharge by means of his Secretariat of State fell 
to the section under Monsignor Montini. As a section, the 
first section under Tardini was traditionally the more im 
portant, and its Italian character and personnel were jealously 
maintained by him during his tenure. Monsignor Montini was 
always, on the contrary, to welcome the addition of personnel 
of other than Italian background, and the second section 
which he led today owes to frim the international character 
which distinguishes it. 

In May of 1938, Monsignor Montini accompanied the 
papal legate, Cardinal Pacelli, to the Eucharistic Congress in 
Budapest, a mark of the special place he already possessed in 
the affection and esteem of Pacelli. He was not often able to 


indulge his love for travel during those Vatican years, but the 
visit to Budapest, the vision of the city alight with torches, 
the Eucharistic procession down the Danube, the hundreds of 
thousands on their knees before their Lord, moved him 
strongly, then and later, as Budapest underwent the passion 
for which this congress seems almost to have been the prelude. 

He sent his family a photograph of himself in Budapest, 
smilingly crossing the street before the royal palace in the 
company of Bishop Tredici (later to be one of the co- 
consecrators when Montini became archbishop of Milan), 
the collar high and white, the arm swinging jauntily, the 
silver-buckled shoes skirting a puddle of water. His father 
sent the photograph to his sister Bettina, and wrote on it: 
"I am sure that you too will be consoled to see the smiling 
face of our dear little son. He begins his vacation at the end of 

Vacations were about to become the rarest of Monsignor 
Montinf s experiences, memories almost, as the fateful year 
1939 dawned. At the age of eighty-one, the Pope who had 
started life as a librarian scholar and finished it as the fighting 
Pope, died. His last wish, it was said, was that his successor 
be the one who was closest to him and best suited for the 
Church in the age of war, the winter of the Church just dawn 
ing his Cardinal Secretary of State, Pacelli. But Secretaries of 
State are notoriously unlikely candidates; they have taken too 
many positions; they have irritated lord cardinals and lord 
princes; governments have been admonished by them and in 
turn have not been amused. And when to all this is added 
the weight of the incantation, "He who enters the Conclave a 
Pope exits a cardinal," it seemed clear that Pacelli could not 
possibly be elected. 

Nevertheless Eugenio Pacelli was promptly chosen on the 
third ballot in one of the shortest conclaves in history. He 


took the name Pius in memory and honor of his predecessor 
and began the reign which would begin in war, would witness 
peace, and bring the Papacy, through the personal vigor and 
indefatigable witness of the Pope himself, to that peak of 
prestige from which the gentle John, his successor, would 
smile on the world and speak to it in such a way that suddenly 
it would seem wonderfully possible for men, all men, to love 
one another again in a kind of new Eden. The age of Pacelli 
made the age of Roncalli possible. 

Beside Pius XII, throughout most of his reign, until sud 
denly he was appointed to Milan, Monsignor Montini was to 
be a part of the greatness of that pontificate. Many affairs of 
state which Pius XI had directed from a small private office 
with the aid of two assistants were now placed under the 
Secretariat of State and personally under Monsignor Montini. 
He would eclipse in closeness to the Pope and identity with 
him his colleague Tardini, and yet Tardini would remain in 
Rome in 1954 while Montini departed for Milan and later 
would become Secretary of State under John XXIII. Monsignor 
Montini was never to be Secretary of State: he would share the 
office for two years with the ever present Tardini, from 1952 
to 1954, but an office shared is simply that, and he would 
leave the Secretariat without being named to join the dis 
tinguished Secretaries of State of the modern Church: Ram- 
polla, Merry Del Val, Gasparri and Pacelli. 

The "prophecy of Malachy" had foretold a pontiff who 
would be a Pastor Angelicus, and Pius XITs first efforts as 
pastor were in the direction of preventing the war which every 
one knew was coming and which the nations of the world 
seemed to be awaiting in a kind of fatalistic apathy. The 
memory of Julius II who rode out to battle was evoked, but 
Pius was no Julius. "They have given us a Pope of peace and 
what we need is a Pope of war!" He spoke movingly, pas 
sionately for peace; his voice, like that of Benedict, was not 


heard. His beloved Italy waited calculatingly and then moved 
to join Germany, and all of Europe was in flames. The 
Vatican, a sovereign State since the Lateran Treaty of 1929, 
was to test and prove that sovereignty as well as its complete 
neutrality in the following war years. They were years, too, 
in which the true testing and proving of Monsignor Montini 
would be made, as the Pope gave into his hands the mounting 
and directing of the massive relief work of the Vatican. 

A service for the prisoners of war was instituted by Mon 
signor Montini, the Vatican Radio employed to bring infor 
mation concerning them to their loved ones, and he was also 
to be instrumental in setting up an office for the resettlement 
of the thousands who had been removed from their own 
countries to concentration camps. No phase of mercy or as 
sistance, immediate and personal as it might be, was over 
looked by the monsignor who worked eighteen hours a day, 
matching hour for hour the Holy Father whose schedule of 
work was already legendary. 

To his office each day came prelates and ambassadors, 
generals and journalists to it too came the frightened people 
who filled Europe and who filtered through Rome in these 
early years of the 40's. Such people were Aldo Mopurgo, his 
wife, his mother, and their little son Augusto, aged four. 
They were Jews, and in 1942 Jews in Europe went in fear of 
their lives. The Mopurgos were stranded in Rome, their only 
hope being escape from Europe. They were advised to seek 
help at the Vatican and the man who greeted them warmly 
and offered it was Monsignor Montini. The Mopurgos now 
live in Kew Gardens, Long Island, New York, and they 
remember that day vividly. "At the Vatican I was introduced 
to Monsignor Montini," says Mr. Mopurgo. "What a man! 
What a heart! He was the easiest man in the world to talk to, 
and he made me feel very good because he was so very warm 
and understanding. We couldn't work and we were afraid for 


our lives. We wanted to get out of Europe. He gave us new 
hope. He told us exactly what to do. He was very kind and 
very efficient" Through Monsignor Montini they obtained a 
visa to go to Ecuador, but when they tried to cross the 
Spanish border from France it was closed by the Spanish 
authorities. Their luggage was in Spain, and they were in 
despair. It was winter, and there seemed to be no hope. 

"My husband decided to rush back to Rome and see the 
only man we could turn to our Monsignor Montini," says 
Mrs. Mopurgo. "He gave my husband an introduction to 
General Franco's brother-in-law and soon we had the neces 
sary permission from the Spanish embassy." 

The Mopurgos stayed in Ecuador until 1946, when they 
entered the United States and became citizens in 1951. Mr. 
Mopurgo's mother died in 1962, and little Augusto, who fled 
across Europe in winter at the age of four, his only crime 
that he was a Jew, is now in Italy as an architect for the 
American Archaeological Excavations of Princeton. One hu 
man drama, one family given hope by the slim monsignor 
with the enormous eyes who could make the great and the 
simple feel in conversation with him that only they mattered 
and that his only task of the day was to talk to them and, if 
possible, assist them. 

In only one arena was the Vatican not neutral that of 
human suffering. During the war thousands of Jewish refu 
gees were assisted by the Holy See; they found shelter in 
churches and institutions which, although outside Vatican 
City itself, were considered extensions of the Vatican by rea 
son of "extraterritoriality" and thus immune to search and 
seizure. According to one Jewish leader familiar with the 
background, no less than 15,000 Jews were sheltered at Cas- 
telgandolfo, the summer home of the Pope. Throughout Rome, 
priests and nuns, often at great personal risk, smuggled Jews 
to places of sanctuary in churches, monasteries and other in- 


stitutions. More than 180 places of refuge were made avail 
able in Rome and secret asylum given to more than 7,000 
refugee Jews. "Rome became one great cloister and all in it 
were safe." When ransom in gold could not be raised by the 
Jewish community in Rome, Pope Pius XTT personally sent 
the sum needed. The worst excesses of anti-Semitism never 
took root in Italy. After the war the Grand Rabbis of Rome 
and Budapest would personally thank the Pope for his efforts 
on behalf of their people. 

But after the war too there would be voices raised to ques 
tion the policy, or the lack of it, on the part of the Holy See, 
toward the deportation and mass murder of Jews throughout 
Europe with the aim of the extermination of the race desired 
by the Third Reich. If only, it was whispered, the Pope had 
taken drastic action, excommunicated Hitler, or repudiated 
the concordat between the Vatican and Germany, if only he 
had protested in the name of morality and humanity, he 
could have stopped it all. 

It is in this context that the pontificate of Pius XTT is an 
illustration of the specific difficulties facing a supranational 
institution confronting a world made up of competing na 
tional sovereignties. There is a limit to the power of the 
Papacy. The Pope is a spiritual sovereign, not a political 
power in the modern sense ("How many divisions does the 
Pope have?" Joseph Stalin was to ask) , incapable of protect 
ing his children and their shepherds from persecution within 
their own lands. "The days are long past when a Pope could 
by his authority stop a war, bring about a truce, or change a 
government's action by excommunicating its rulers, or when 
nations could declare themselves subject to the Pope because 
this guaranteed their independence." 4 Pope Pius was poign 
antly aware of this even if his postwar critics were not. 

"There is evidence that he felt himself in an agonizing 

4 Alec Randall in The Listener, London, June 27, 1963, p. 1067. 


dilemma. He was acutely aware of the fact that energetic pro 
tests had driven the ruthless and wicked man who dominated 
most of Europe to even more terrible extremes." 5 The Pope's 
correspondence with Bishop (later Cardinal) Preysing of Ber 
lin demonstrates his true convictions. Writing on February 27, 
1943, to commend the bishop for his declarations denouncing 
the inhumanities of the National Socialist dictatorship, Pope 
Pius said: "We are grateful, Venerable Brother, for the clear 
and plain words which you have addressed under divers cir 
cumstances to your faithful, and through them to public opin 
ion. We are thin Icing among others of your exposition of June 
28, 1942, of the Christian concept of law; of your declara 
tion on All Souls' Day, last November, regarding the right of 
all men to life and love; We think particularly of your pas 
toral letter of Advent circulated in the ecclesiastical provinces 
of West Germany, upon the rights of God, of the individual 
and of the family." 

The pastoral letter to which the Pope referred was Bishop 
Prey sing's reply to Hitler's decision to exterminate the Jews. 
Cardinal Frings and the future Cardinal von Galen had it 
adopted by all the bishops of Western Germany and read 
from the pulpit in every parish. It said in part: "All the funda 
mental rights of man the right to life, to bodily integrity, to 
liberty, to property, to a marriage which does not depend on 
the arbitrary will of the State cannot be denied to those 
not of our blood or who do not speak our language. ... To 
deny these rights, or to act with cruelty against our fellow 
men is an injustice not only to the foreigner but also to our 
own people." 

In his letter to Bishop Preysing, Pius XII said of the 
Berlin Catholics: "As chief Pastor of the faithful, we are 
anxious to see your Catholics preserve their convictions and 
their faith pure from all compromises with principles and 

5 Op. cit. 


acts which are in contradiction to the law of God and the 
spirit of Christ, and often even tarn them into derision. We 
have been consoled to learn that Catholics, especially those 
of Berlin, have shown much charity toward the oppressed 
non-Aryans, and in this connection We address a word of 
paternal gratitude and deep sympathy to Monsignor Lighten- 
berg, who is now in prison." 6 

"There is no doubt," says Sir D'Arcy Osborne, "in fact His 
Holiness said as much to me on one occasion, that he believed 
he had condemned Nazi atrocities in a letter he himself had 
written, in his wartime Christinas messages and other 
speeches." "There was no doubt," continues the British war 
time minister to the Holy See, "of his convictions and inten 
tions but there was admittedly no clear and unequivocal con 
demnation. . . . Were not the Germans, including Catholic 
Gemans, so hypnotized and morally enslaved by Hitler as to 
be impervious to any warning or appeal?" Osborne says in 
the same context: ". . . the language of his addresses was 
often so prolix and obscure that it was difficult to extract his 
meaning from its extraneous verbal envelope (I have been 
told that his style was based on a marriage between Cicero 
andBossuet)." 7 

The dilemma was inescapable. And because there are here 
all the elements of the classic tragedy of a good man con 
fronting evil and knowing the excruciating pain of being 
unable to confound it, it called for dramatization. A young 
German, Rolf Hochhuth, brought his play, Der Stellvertreter, 
to the Berlin stage in February, 1963, and plans were made for 
presentations to follow in London, New York, and Paris. 

e Monsignor Lightenberg, provost of the Berlin cathedral chapter, 
was a leading spirit in an organization which Bishop Preysing had cre 
ated to aid Catholics of Jewish origin. He died in the convoy on his 
way to a concentration camp. 

7 D'Arcy Osborne, in London Times, May 20, 1963. 


"The Vicar (der Stellvertreter} " says George Steiner in 
Ms article in the London Sunday Times for May 5, 1963, 
entitled "Papal Policy and Mass Murder," inquires with un 
believing cold fury into one "of the most abject episodes of 
modern history: the refusal of the Vatican to intervene against 
Hitler's slaughter of the Jewish people." Steiner asks a series 
of inflammatory questions: "Why did Pope Pius XII make 
only the most perfunctory of protests when Jewish families 
were dragged into Gestapo vans under his very windows? 
. . . What mesh of cowardice, indifference or high policy lay 
behind the fact (glowingly noted by Hitler's envoy to the 
Holy See) that the Pope 'though urged to do so by various 
parties' had avoided any 'trenchant pronouncement against 
the deportation of the Jews'?" He quotes Mauriac: " 'We 
did not have the consolation of hearing the Successor of the 
Galilean, Simon Petrus, condemn with unequivocal plain 
words and not with mere diplomatic hints, the crucifixion of 
innumerable kindred of the Lord's.' " "The Nazis feared the 
possibility of Papal and Catholic action," says Steiner. "The 
King of Denmark put on a yellow star. The Vicar of Christ 
did not. . . . The Vatican, informed by Polish clergy of 
what was happening hour by hour in the ovens and bunkers of 
Belsen, assured them that prayers were being said for 'our 
Jewish brothers.' " "Why this evasion," asks Steiner, "why this 
terrible silence?" 

Hochhuth, 8 in his at times wildly imaginative reconstruc- 

8 "Rolf Hochhuth ... a Protestant of thirty-two years of age, be* 
longed formerly to a Nazi youth organization. 1 was fourteen in 1945,' 
he said, *and the total collapse of Germany shook me profoundly. I 
could not help thinking this: What would you have done had you been 
of an age to act? This led me to study what the supreme representative 
of the Christian idea had done in regard to all those crimes.' ... He 
affirms that his play is not anti-Catholic. 'It is too Christian for one to 
think this,* he says, and on several occasions he has paid homage to the 


tion of history, believes the answer lies in the coldly com 
plex, antisocial and essentially diplomatic temperament of 
Pius XII, and under him the Vatican's specific view of the 
Second World War. In Der Stellvertreter, Pius XII sees Bol 
shevism as the final supreme evil. Hitler is a passing menace; 
limited defeat might even render him a useful citizen. The 
slaughtered Jews may represent part of God's mystical design; 
He will make good their agony. Soviet victory would mean 
the end of Christianity. Individually the Pope appears as a 
man of deep mercy, but as head of the Church militant he 
cannot risk an open fight with Hitler. There is a confronta 
tion in the play between the Pope and the young Jesuit Ric- 
cardo Fontana, and Fontana flees in horror from the Pope's 
lesson in statecraft. He dies in Auschwitz, taunted by the 
"Doctor of Auschwitz" who tells him that the Church, refusing 
to act now, will at a future safe date canonize him to her credit. 
"No speck of ash from the ovens of Belsen will be allowed to 
stain the white garment of Pius XII." The play ends in de 

From his prison, the young Jesuit Alfred Delp soon to be 
executed by the Nazis, had written some years before: "The 
Vatican and the Church are to be considered. So far as con 
crete and visible influence goes, the attitude of the Vatican 
is not what it was. ... Of course it will be shown eventually 
that the Pope did his duty and more, that he offered peace 
. . . that he dispensed alms and was tireless in his work on 
behalf of prisoners of war, displaced persons and so on all 
this we know and posterity will have documentary evidence 
in plenty to show the full extent of the papal effort. But to a 
large extent all this good work may be taken for granted and 
also to a large extent it leads nowhere and has no real hope of 

innumerable Catholic priests who defended the Jews." Informations 
catholiques Internationales, April 1, 1963. 


achieving anything. That is the real root of the trouble 
among all the protagonists in the tragic drama of the modern 
world there is not one who fundamentally cares in the least 
what the Church says or does. We overrated the Church's 
political machine and let it run on long after its essential 
driving power had ceased to function. It makes absolutely 
no difference so far as the beneficial influence of the Church 
is concerned whether a state maintains diplomatic relations 
with the Vatican or not. The only thing that really matters is 
the inherent power of the Church as a religious force in the 
countries concerned." 9 

While Pope Pius may not have been as forceful as hind 
sight might urge, he was incapable of a morally unworthy 
action, not to speak of any calculated policy in the matter. 
The German bishops, following a meeting held March 4-6, 
1963, published a statement paying tribute to the memory of 
Pope Pius XII, to his efforts to avoid war and bring about 
peace, and to his aid to suffering men and peoples. "We there 
fore find it particularly scandalous," they declared, "that it is 
among the German people that the action of Pope Pius is 
falsely represented and his memory profaned.** But his best 
defense has been written by the man who saw him wrestle 
with the indecision to which he was prone, 10 determined to 
protect his prospects as a possible mediator, that he might 
assist in putting an end to the sufferings of humanity. He was 
not asked and herein, as Vicar of the Prince of Peace, lay 
his greatest suffering. The following letter written by the 
cardinal archbishop of Milan, one of the last he was to write 
before entering the conclave which elected him Pope, is from 
the man who knew Pius XII best at this time, and knew also 
of the agonies a man can suffer though he be dressed in the 

9 The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp (New York: Herder 
and Herder, 1963). 

10 Cardinal Tardini in his book Pio XII is the authority for this. 


white of innocence, live in a storied palace, be the judge of 
prelates and princes, and a successor to one who himself 
suffered the pain of indecision ("Simon, Simon, I have prayed 
for you that Satan not sift you as wheat") . 

The letter written by Cardinal Montini to the editor of the 
London Tablet, and published in its issue of June 29, 1963, 
reads as follows: 

Dear Sir, It gave me much pleasure to read the article entitled 
"Pius XII and the Jews," which appeared in your excellent period 
ical on May llth, 1963: it was a most welcome defence not only 
of Pope Pius XII, of venerated memory, and of the Holy See, but 
also of historical truth and sound logic, not to speak of common- 

It is not my intention here to examine the question raised by the 
author and the producer, Rolf Hochhuth and Erwin Piscator re 
spectively, of the play Der Stellvertreter ("The Vicar"): namely, 
whether it was Pius XIFs duty to condemn in some public and 
spectacular way the massacres of the Jews during the last war. 
Much, to be sure, might still be said on this point, even after the 
very clear and cogent article in L'Osservatore Romano of April 
5th; for the thesis of Herr Hochhuth's play that, to quote Mr. 
George Steiner's review in the Sunday Times of May 5th, "We are 
all accomplices to that which leaves us indifferent" bears no re 
lation whatever to the personality or the work of Pope Pius XII. I 
cannot myself conceive how anyone could bring such a charge (let 
alone make it the subject of a play) against a Pontiff who might 
well, had he wished, have declared with a clear conscience to the 
whole world: "No effort on our part was lacking, nothing that 
anxious solicitude could suggest was left untried to prevent the 
horrors of mass deportation and exile; and when despite our just 
expectations this proved impossible, we set ourselves to do every 
thing in our power to mitigate, at least, the cruelties of a state of af 
fairs imposed by brute force." But history a very different thing 
from such artificial manipulation of facts to fit a preconceived idea 
as we see in Der Stellvertreter will vindicate the conduct of Pius 
XII when confronted by the criminal excesses of the Nazi regime: 


history will show how vigilant, persistent, disinterested and coura 
geous that conduct must be judged to have been, when viewed in 
its true context, in the concrete conditions of that time. 

For my part I conceive it my duty to contribute to the task of 
clarifying and purifying men's judgment on the historical reality 
in question so distorted in the representational pseudo-reality of 
Hochhuth's play by pointing out that the character given to Pius 
XII in this play (to judge from the reviews in the Press) does not 
represent the man as he really was: in fact, it entirely misrepresents 
him. I am in a position to assert this because it was my good for 
tune to be drawn into close contact with Pius XII during his pon 
tificate, serving him day by day, from 1937, when he was still 
Secretary of State, to 1954: throughout, that is, the whole period 
of the world war. 

It is true that the precise scope of my duties did not include for 
eign affairs ("extraordinary" affairs, as they are called in the lan 
guage of the Roman Curia) ; but Pius XITs goodness towards me 
personally, and the nature itself of my work as "Sostituto" in the 
Secretariat of State, gave me access to the mind and, I would add, 
to the heart of this great Pope. The image of Pius XII which Hoch- 
huth presents, or is said to present, is a false one. For example, it is 
utterly false to tax Pius with cowardice: both his natural tempera 
ment and the consciousness that he had of the authority and the 
mission entrusted to him, speak clearly against such an accusation. 
I could cite a host of particular facts to drive this point home, facts 
that would prove that the frail and gentle exterior of Pius XII, and 
the sustained refinement and moderation of his language, concealed 
if they did not, rather, reveal a noble and virile character capa 
ble of taking very firm decisions and of adopting, fearlessly, posi 
tions that entailed considerable risk. 

Nor is it true that he was a heartless solitary. On the contrary, he 
was a man of exquisite sensibility and the most delicate human 
sympathies. True, he did love solitude: his richly cultivated mind, 
his unusual capacity for thought and study led him to avoid all use 
less distractions, every unnecessary relaxation; but he was quite the 
reverse of a man shut away from life and indifferent to people and 
events around him. Rather, it was his constant desire to be in- 


formed of everything. He wished to enter fully into the history of 
his own afflicted time: with a deep sense that he himself was a part 
of that history, he wished to participate fully in it, to share its suf 
ferings in his own heart and soul. Let me cite, in this connexion, 
the words of a well-qualified witness, Sir D'Arcy Osborne, the 
British Minister to the Holy See who, when the Germans occupied 
Rome, was obliged to live confined in the Vatican City. Writing to 
The Times on May 20th, Sir D'Arcy said: "Pius XII was the most 
warmly humane, kindly, generous, sympathetic (and, incidentally, 
saintly) character that it has been my privilege to meet in the 
course of a long life." 

Again, it is not true to say that Pope Pius XITs conduct was in 
spired by a calculating political opportunism. It would be just as 
true and as slanderous to assert that his government of the 
Church was motivated by considerations of material advantage. 

As for his omitting to take up a position of violent opposition to 
Hitler in order to save the lives of those minions of Jews slaughtered 
by the Nazis, this will be readily understood by anyone who avoids 
Hochhuth's mistake of trying to assess what could have been effec 
tively and responsibly done then, in those appalling conditions of 
war and Nazi oppression, by the standard of what would be feasi 
ble in normal conditions or in some hypothetical conditions ar 
bitrarily invented by a young playwright's imagination. An attitude 
of protest and condemnation such as this young man blames the 
Pope for not having adopted would have been not only futile but 
harmful: that is the long and the short of the matter. The thesis of 
Der Stellvertreter betrays an inadequate grasp of psychological, po 
litical and historical realities. But then the author was concerned 
above all to write an interesting play. 

Let us suppose that Pius XII had done what Hochhuth blames 
him for not doing. His action would have led to such reprisals and 
devastations that Hochhuth himself, the war being over and he now 
possessed of a better historical, political and moral judgment, 
would have been able to write another play, far more realistic 
and far more interesting than the one that he has in fact so cleverly 
but also so ineptly put together: a play, that is, about the Stellver 
treter who, through political exhibitionism or psychological myopia, 


would have been guilty of unleashing on the already tormented 
world still greater calamities involving innumerable innocent vic 
tims, let alone himself. 

It would be as well if the creative imagination of playwrights 
insufficiently endowed with historical discernment (and possibly, 
though please God it is not so, with ordinary human integrity) 
would forebear from trifling with subjects of this kind and with his 
torical personages whom some of us have known. In the present 
case the real drama, and tragedy, is not what the playwright im 
agines it to be: it is the tragedy of one who tries to impute to a 
Pope who was acutely aware both of his own moral obligations and 
of historical reality and was moreover a very loyal as well as im 
partial friend to the people of Germany the horrible crimes of 
German Nazism. 

Let some men say what they will, Pius XII's reputation as a 
true Vicar of Christ, as one who tried, so far as he could, fully and 
courageously to carry out the mission entrusted to him, will not be 
affected. But what is the gain to art and culture when the theatre 
lends itself to injustice of this sort? 

With my sincere respects, devotedly yours, 

Archbishop of Milan 

Throughout the war the Vatican maintained its relations 
with both the Axis and Allied powers, the representatives of 
the latter housed in the Vatican, 11 the former until the de 
clining years of the war free to go between the Vatican and the 
city of Rome, closed to their confreres who had become the 
enemy. Monsignor Montini dealt with impeccable cordiality 
and neutrality with all the representatives. During the larger 
receptions in the Vatican all representatives of the diplomatic 
corps accredited to the Vatican were present, and by reason 
of seniority the ambassador of Germany, Dr. Diego von Ber 
gen, and the British minister, Sir Francis D'Arcy Osborne, 

11 Cf. Thomas B. Morgan, The Listening Post (New York: G. P. 
Putnam's Sons, 1944), p. 207. 


would have found themselves sitting together. Monsignor 
Montini chose to sit between them, dividing his attention im 
partially, his every smile and gesture in one direction repeated 
in the other. 

Mr. Myron Taylor, personal representative of President 
Roosevelt to the person of the Holy Father during the war 
wrote: ". . . the two principal Under Secretaries of State 
were Monsignor Domenico Tardini and Monsignor Giovanni 
B. Montini on both of whom it was always possible to depend 
for sympathetic and intelligent consideration of problems, 
whether burdensome or not." ^ 

One of the Pope's greatest anxieties after Italy's entry into 
the war was the possibility that Rome might be subjected to 
aerial attack. For months he and his staff tried through diplo 
matic channels to persuade the Italian government to demili 
tarize target areas and proclaim Rome an open city. On May 
18, 1943, he addressed a personal plea to President Roosevelt 
expressing the hope that the people of Italy would be given 
consideration and that their many treasured shrines of religion 
and art would be spared from ruin. The President replied by 
pledging that Allied airmen "to the extent humanly possible" 
would refrain from bombing purely civilian objectives, but 
the Pope's redoubled efforts to have Rome declared an open 
city were not at that time successful on either side. 

On July 19, 1943, at 11 A.M., American planes carrying 
out an assault on railroad junctions in the periphery of Rome, 
bombed a section of the city in which the ancient Church of 
Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls was located. Many of the 
bombs fell on the surrounding civilian district, a crowded sec 
tor chiefly inhabited by workers, and on a hospital, religious 
buildings, and on one of the largest cemeteries in Rome. 

From the windows of his study, where he was receiving 

12 Wartime Correspondence between President Roosevelt and Pope 
Pius XII (Macmfflan: New York, 1947), p. 7. 


official visitors, Pius Xn could see the raid, which lasted for 
two hours. Soon after it began, he cancelled his remaining 
appointments and stood watching as he recited the prayers 
for the dying. Very shortly after the bombing was over he 
was in the area, accompanied by Monsignor Montini, consol 
ing the wounded and weeping people, moving among them, 
careless of the dirt and blood on his cassock. He had directed 
Monsignor Montini to bring all the cash he could obtain, 
about two million lire, and the latter distributed the money to 
those most gravely in need. They found that the Basilica of 
Saint Lawrence had been hit several times; the roof had fallen 
in and the fagade and vestibule were destroyed; in the neigh 
boring cemetery, bombs had torn up the graves and wrecked 
among others the tombs of the Pontiffs own family, the 
Pacellis. Deeply affected, the Pope climbed up on the rubble 
of the basilica to pray. "Up to the last day of Our life," he 
said some years later, "We will remember this sorrowful occa 

On returning to the Vatican he wrote at once to the Presi 
dent of the United States: "We have had to witness the har 
rowing scene of death leaping from the skies and stalking 
pitilessly through unsuspecting homes, striking down women 
and children; and in person We have visited the gaping ruins 
of that ancient and priceless papal basilica of Saint Lawrence, 
one of the most treasured and loved sanctuaries of the Ro 
mans. . . . We feel it Our duty to voice a particular prayer 
and hope that all may recognize that a city whose every dis 
trict, in some districts every street, has its irreplaceable monu 
ments of faith or art and Christian culture, cannot be attacked 
without inflicting an incomparable loss on the patrimony of 
religion and civilization." 

The next day in a letter addressed to Cardinal Francesco 
Marchetti-Selvaggiani, vicar general of Rome, Pope Pius in 
even stronger terms recalled his repeated appeals to both 


groups of belligerents "to respect the inviolability of peaceful 
monuments of faith and civilization." This letter, published 
in Osservatore Romano, said that the "authority with which 
We, although unworthy, are invested, the recognition of our 
thorough impartiality and liberality toward all, apart from 
nationality and religion, would have given us at least the con 
solation that both the belligerent parties would have lent an 
ear to our mediation on behalf of Rome." 

No official protest was made to the Allies but Pope Pius 
renewed his appeals for the proclamation of an open city. 
The American President indicated his approval but pointed 
out that Mussolini had so far resisted every demand to demili 
tarize Rome. The city was bombed for the second time on 
August 13, 1943, and as before, the Pope and Monsignor 
Montini were among the first on the scene in the San Giovanni 
district near the basilica of Saint John Lateran where the 
bombs had fallen, giving comfort to the wounded, praying 
for the dead, and distributing alms. After this raid, through 
the representations of the Pope acting directly and through 
his Secretariat of State with the powers on both sides, Rome 
was declared an open city and Pope Pius XII received a title 
which as a Roman was particularly dear to him: Defensor 
Civitatis Defender of the City. 

4. "Cloister of Ciphers and 

When the Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione, died in 1944, 
and Pius XII appointed no successor to him from the College 
of Cardinals, it was obvious that the Pope was content with 
what had been the working arrangement for some time: acting 
as his own Secretary of State with the assistance of Montini 
and Tardini. The arrangement was to be criticized as it con 
tinued through the years. With all their ability, knowledge, 
and helpfulness, it was felt that the two could not in all cir 
cumstances fill the position of a fully authorized Cardinal 
Secretary of State. Access by members of the diplomatic corps 
to the Pope grew increasingly difficult, and grumbling was 
heard concerning excessive centralization and insufficient con 
tact, in matters of detail, with the outside world. The Pope, 
especially after the Holy Year of 1950, became more isolated 
from both diplomats and cardinals, lavishing his time and en 
ergies on countless audiences to all classes of people. 

Thus it was to Monsignor Montini that diplomats and car 
dinals came, to his small waiting room with its uncomfortable 
gilt chairs, the damasked-wall salon, the large office with its 



desk piled high with papers ("these are the cards I play with 
all day, 5 ' he would say deprecatingly), and to him they would 
say what they wished to have communicated to the Holy Fa 

"The paradox about Montini, the diplomat/' it was said, 
"lies in the apparent lack of diplomacy, the seemingly unself- 
conscious willingness to speak openly and frankly." Yet a col 
league of those days testifies that no word left the lips of the 
Sostituto without its having been fitted carefully to the thought 
he sought to express; no unguarded word, no careless phrase, 
yet always the willingness to enter into dialogue and say as 
much as he could and as much as his visitor desired without 
doing violence to his office and loyalty to the Holy Father. 
"He is . . , a man who, speaking with whoever goes to seek 
him out, does not shut himself off, as so many do and as he 
himself has a right to do, in a meandering tour of the subjects 
which are his proper competence, but he willingly ranges far 
beyond. He has interests and curiosities and experiences in the 
widest fields of culture, he always has some information he 
wants from his visitor in these fields, and his own judgments 
and observations in areas far removed from his everyday activ 
ities are always personal and reasoned." 

Endlessly seeking to accommodate, to reconcile, to pacify 
and assist, advancing the views of a government or a supe 
rior, any diplomat may emerge without the hardness, the con 
viction at the core of his being, which would make him, should 
he be called, a leader rather than the leader's interpreter. 
Translators, no matter how brilliant, do not necessarily, when 
they turn to writing books, produce works of genius. Monsig- 
nor Montini was for the years he worked under Pius XII an 
interpreter, a translator into word and action of the mind and 
heart of the Holy Father. But the role as he conceived it was 
essentially a creative one, demanding a sensitivity to nuance 
and intention which would articulate by organization, by 


word, by letter, the fully formed or half -expressed wishes of 
the Pope. 

Popes do not rule by inspiration. Theirs is the way of men, 
aided by grace, of using human means with the assistance of 
men whose brilliance and loyalty make them worthy of intimacy 
and trust. Pius XII had at his disposition a Curia of talented 
and devoted men, yet it was to one man that he turned most 
often. The reason cannot be sought in the one often adduced: 
that in their thinking on all questions they were perfectly and 
intuitively identified. There is reason to believe that the think 
ing of Pope Pius XII on the world and on the Church was 
more perfectly shared by Monsignor Tardini, a perspective, in 
some areas, of limited dimensions, less modern and compre 
hensive than Monsignor Montini's, even though it must be 
insisted no other Pope gave to the modern world a body of 
teaching on religious and ethical questions equal to that of 
Pius XII. 

But as the perfect servitor of the Pope, Montini chose to be 
a shadow, as Pacelli had been a shadow of Pius XI, meticu 
lously implementing the policy of the Pontiff whatever be the 
personal reservations as to its wisdom, never uttering a per 
sonal opinion or committing himself on any public issues. 1 
'This XH was an exacting master. Reserved, cautious, 
brusquely obstinate, outwardly mild but easily irritated, he de 
manded of all who served him that they keep him informed, 
not advised." 2 

Perfect obedience does not mean the prostration of the heart 
and mind; the one who serves and obeys continues to be a man, 
with his own obligation to truth and the vision of how it must 
be discovered and implemented. Monsignor Montini served 
the Pope and truth in perfect harmony for fifteen years. 

1 Dante defines the true counselor as "one who discerns, wills aright, 
and accepts." 

* Alec Randall, in London Tablet, May 4, 1963. 


Shortly before Monsignor Montini's parents died (the father 
in 1943, the mother a year later) the Pope said to them: 
"Your son possesses every priestly quality in the highest pos 
sible degree." It was to Montini, the priest, not the diplomat 
or servitor, that the prayerful, ascetic, even holy Pope, pointed 
when he sought to tell the parents what it was he most es 
teemed in their son. Every good priest respects the integrity 
of his fellow priests in their witness; if Pius XII sensed re 
serves of thought and action in his Sostituto, he did not ask 
that they be opened to him or violated. Thus in harmony and 
mutual respect they worked for the Church. The right eye of 
the Pope, the Roman press called him, and the irrepressible 
Romans would say: "Why go to the Monte (Mountain) when 
things can be more quickly done by going to Montini (little 

In May, 1945, Monsignor Montini celebrated the twenty- 
fifth anniversary of his ordination as a priest, and Pius XH 
wrote him in part: "Since we are aware that those who esteem 
your high qualities, and their number is legion, are preparing 
to celebrate this date, we wish to anticipate the celebration 
with this Our letter, We who for so long and better than any 
other know your outstanding gifts, your notable talents, your 
diligence and your piety." Accompanying the letter was the 
gift of a handsome chalice, and Monsignor Montini used it in 
celebrating his anniversary Mass in the Chiesa Nuova of Saint 
Philip Neri. 

The postwar years saw the work of the Secretariat intensify 
in the direction of assisting in the relocation of the millions 
rendered homeless and stateless by the war. These were the 
years of anguish for the Church in Eastern Europe, "the 
Church of Silence," as it would become and would be named 
by Pius XII, with the prosecutions of prelates such as Minds- 
zenty, Stepinac, and Beran. In order to highlight the injustice 


of their sentencing, the Vatican through the Secretariat of State 
presented a complete picture of the true roles which these men, 
now accused of treason and crimes against the state, had 
played in the life of their countries. Montini was mentioned 
in the trials which sought to discredit churchmen in Czecho 
slovakia and Hungary. In the August 3, 1949 issue of the 
Czechoslovak Communist paper Rude Pravo, an article charges 
that the head of an "Organization X," had decided to make a 
martyr of Archbishop Ber an because the organization was dis 
pleased by the relaxing of East-West tensions. "The members 
of the organization, who were linked in some mysterious way 
with ... the general of the Jesuits and Monsignor Montini, 
were directing sabotage, espionage and various other disturb 
ances in countries that refused to submit to Capitalism." 3 

"After the imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty, many of 
his responsibilities were assumed by Archbishop Josef Groesz 
of Kalocsa, whose duty it was to keep in contact with the Holy 
See and resist all pressure for the establishment of a national 
Church. He was arrested therefore in May 1951 and brought 
in for sentencing the following month. With the same mystify 
ing calm (as shown by Mindszenty) ... he confessed to 
everything required of him. . . . Archbishop Groesz involved 
Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Spellman and Monsignor Montini of 
the Vatican Secretariat of State in a fantastic plot to make him 
self the head of the State with the title Homo Regius." 4 

In these postwar years Monsignor Montini, always deeply 
interested in social questions, took a leading part in the found 
ing of the Pontifical Work of Assistance (to the poor and 
dispossessed), the Association of Christian Workers (ACLI), 

3 Robert I. Gannon, The Cardinal Spellman Story (New York: 
Doubleday, 1962), p. 346. 

4 Op. cit., p. 340. These fantasies reflect, perhaps, a persistent nerv 
ousness on the part of Communist-dominated countries concerning the 
influence of America on the Vatican. 


and of the Women's Italian Center (CEF). He supported 
strongly the priest-worker movement in France, by which 
priests sought to witness to Christian principles in dechristian- 
ized areas of life by living and working among the Christless 
masses. Many of these priests were subverted by the very 
milieu they sought to change, and the defection of many 
among them was a shocking and sobering experience for this 
prelate, so sympathetic to modern trends and experiments. 

Monsignor Montini supported the concept of the priest- 
worker movement with an audacity and enthusiasm which 
contrasted sharply with the suspicion and even hostility with 
which it was regarded in certain quarters in Rome. When its 
activity was sharply curtailed he was in agreement that new 
protection and directives had to be provided, but he never 
wavered in support of its basic concept: to give witness to 
Christ in those places where His name was no longer known. 
Some years later in Milan he said to a group of French priests: 
"France is the animating spirit of life in the Church. Her 
books are read everywhere. When a heresy breaks out some 
where else no one knows anything about it, but if it is in 
France all the world speaks of it. I have often said to French 
bishops: the whole world expects from the French people a 
solution from the Church's point of view. ... If the submis 
sion (of the priest-workers) had been total, I believe you 
would have saved the institution." 5 

Italy, in 1948, held its first general election following the 
war, with the Communist Party strongly organized and heav 
ily financed, the Christian Democratic Party making its first 
appearance, the Monarchists hoping somehow to retain the 
royal house so long identified with now discredited Fascism. 
It is from this period that Italian conservatives began catego 
rizing Montini as "progressive" or "of the Left," their feeling 
being that the decline of the Italian monarchy in 1946 could 

5 Informations catholiques Internationales, July 1, 1963, p. 20. 


have been prevented by him had he asserted himself strongly 
with the Pope who, it was said, was wavering. But the Allies 
in 1946 had no intention of allowing the tarnished monarchy 
to confront the growing power of Communism in Italy, and 
anti-Fascist Italians saw the future of Italy as associated with 
the United States and Britain, headed at this time by the Demo 
cratic Party and the Labor Party respectively. 

In 1950, the organizing of the Holy Year was largely the 
charge of Monsignor Montini as, in 1953, was that of the 
Marian Year. The intention of peace in the Holy Year was 
officially articulated by Monsignor Montini in May, 1949. 
"The Holy Year," he said, "is part of the present Pontiff's line 
of conduct; it is intended as a prolongation, an application, of 
the program in everyday language we say politics of the 
Holy See." This was the hope, but Monsignor Montini was 
sufficiently a realist to see the chasm between hope and actu 
ality. The world had come to think of peace, he said, as merely 
a cessation of battle, a failure to resist. Not this, not the aban 
donment of principle, not the desire to enjoy life and the 
compromise making this possible, and certainly not the en 
forced peace of totalitarian regimes none of these was peace. 
The Holy Year, he urged, was not merely to express aspira 
tions toward peace, but provide inspiration for action. It would, 
no doubt, quicken the spirit of religion which, genuinely em 
braced, would contribute to the peace of the world by turning 
men's thoughts to the Fatherhood of God. Even at this time, 
Monsignor Montini struck an ecumenical note by adding that 
the Holy See expected "a powerful effect upon all men of good 
faith, not only Catholics." 

Of great interest to Monsignor Montini was the visit which 
he made between August 20 and September 9, 1951, to Can 
ada and the United States. This visit was the subject of some 
speculation in the American press, although the coverage 
given his visit, which was termed "unofficial" was negligible. 


The New York Times ventured the explanation that there 
were papal objections to the Japanese peace treaty which 
Montini had come to the United States to express, but this 
was officially denied by Monsignor Montini, who described 
his first trip to North America as a holiday tour. He flew 
from London to Montreal and while in Canada visited a num 
ber of Catholic prelates and institutions, the shrines of Saint 
Anne de Beaupre and Cap de Madeleine, also Ottawa, King 
ston and Ontario. In Ottawa he lunched with the then prime 
minister, Saint Laurent, and one of his stops was at a jam 
boree of 3,000 Boy Scouts at Vandreuil near Quebec. 

He entered the United States through Niagara Falls, N.Y., 
and was greeted at the border by the late Bishop John F. 
O'Hara, C.S.C., of Buffalo, who later became cardinal arch 
bishop of Philadelphia. From Buffalo he flew to Washington, 
D.C., where he was met at the airport by the then apostolic 
delegate to the United States, Archbishop Amleto Cicognani, 
now cardinal and secretary of State of Pope Paul VI. In Wash 
ington he spent four days visiting such historic sites as Mount 
Vernon, the home of George Washington; toured the head 
quarters of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the 
central coordinating headquarters of the U.S. hierarchy, and 
met the staff at a reception to which executives of the Fed 
eral government, the diplomatic corps and of national labor 
unions were invited. In St. Louis he was the guest of Arch 
bishop (now Cardinal) Ritter; next he swung west to Denver, 
then to Chicago, where his host was the late Cardinal Stritch. 
While in the latter's see city, he quietly mingled on Sunday, 
September 2, with the congregations in several churches, in 
cluding two for Negro Catholics. In Detroit he stayed with its 
archbishop, the late Cardinal Mooney, and asked to visit the 
assembly lines of one of the big auto factories. He had a per 
sonal reason for visiting Pittsburgh; Monsignor Walter S. Car 
roll, head of the English language section of the Secretariat 


of State, with whom he had worked for nine years, had died 
suddenly in Washington in 1950, and Montini came to visit 
his family and pray at his grave. Back on the East coast, he 
stopped in New York where he was the guest of Francis Car 
dinal Spellman, and under his guidance saw many Catholic 
institutions as well as tourist sights in and around the City. On 
September 9, he recrossed the Atlantic, and made a brief visit 
to Ireland on his way back to Rome. 

The routine which Monsignor Montini followed for years 
began at six in the morning with his meditation, Mass, and 
thanksgiving in the Chapel of Julius II, followed by a break 
fast of coffee and milk and bread served by his faithful house 
keeper, Maria. He was in his office at about eight and his first 
appointment of the morning on alternate days was with the 
Holy Father. Appointments and paperwork kept him at his 
desk until two o'clock and after. The Holy Father usually took 
a walk in the Vatican gardens at about three, and this was 
often the hour when Monsignor Montini took his lunch in 
variably of soup, grilled meat and vegetable, fruit and a glass 
of wine and after it a short siesta. He would read his brevi 
ary, and at six o'clock be back in the office until nine or nine- 
thirty. The Holy Father usually went to bed after one in the 
morning, and Monsignor Montini kept his timetable as well; 
he was on call day or night, and if the Pope needed him at any 
hour the monsignor was ready. He was never far from the 
phone which connected directly with the office of the Holy 
Father, and he grew accustomed to its ring and to the soft 
voice saying, "E quiPacelli (Pacelli here)." He took no holi 
day for years, and only in 1950 had he agreed for the first 
time to take a month off, spending two weeks at a Fiuggi spa 
and the others in Concesio. 

The world of Monsignor Montini, which was rather a win 
dow on the world, was one in which the long perspective 


was taken, a perspective in which history is reckoned by eras 
rather than years, "a cloister of ciphers and secrets," but in its 
less sensational reality a place of sober and dedicated work. 
Responsible to a sensitive and meticulous man, he was in turn 
sensitive and meticulous in his day-to-day dealings with his 
staff, demanding but just, gentle for the most part but capable 
of eye-flashing disapproval when work or attitude did not 
meet his high standards. His "Relatively immediately," spoken 
softly or written in his careful hand on work assigned, had a 
galvanic effect on the slower moving staff men. He was impa 
tient of pietistic platitudes. "Too many barks of Peter, too 
many fishers of souls!" he wrote dryly on an address prepared 
by a subordinate and submitted to him for approval. 

He was not lavish with praise for work well done work 
should be well done but he showed his appreciation by the 
warmth with which he welcomed those who came to him with 
personal problems. A knock at his office door, a moment to 
listen to the soft-spoken "Avanti come in," and the visitor 
entered the office, bare and efficient, its only disorder the piles 
of documents and papers filling the desk and spilling over onto 
adjacent tables. He was appreciative of brief, concise explana 
tions and grateful to anyone who would be quick and be gone, 
but he never showed impatience with the prolix or hesitant, 
sitting quietly while his visitor spoke, his bright eyes fixed on 
his face. "With his eyes," said Maria, his housekeeper for 
many years until he left Rome and she was sent back to her 
native Abruzzi with a sewing machine, sewing lessons, and a 
bicycle as gifts, '*with his eyes he could read your soul. Some 
times he would fix me with a glance and say, *Maria, tell me 
the truth!' and I would tell him the truth because I loved him 
and also because of those eyes!" 

The eyes, somewhat disconcerting at first, are penetrating 
without being curiously probing, reflecting both the intelli 
gence and warmth of the man. His patience and "unflappabil- 


ity" were legends in the Secretariat. "Only once," said a col 
league, "did I ever see Mm lose control and get excited; only 
once, and that was on the 10th of June, 1940, the day Italy 
entered the war." His schedule of work, his care of detail, his 
courtesy and efficiency were at once the inspiration and de 
spair of those who sought to emulate him and who were 
obliged to admit ruefully that they possessed neither the stam 
ina nor inner drive of this totally dedicated man. The man 
who was to succeed him in his office, Monsignor (now Arch 
bishop) Angelo dell' Acqua, himself a model of hard work 
and genial efficiency, said of his predecessor's schedule of 
work: "He demonstrated his abnegation and love of the 
Church, his dedication to duty illuminated by a great simplic 
ity of life, a life of exceptional goodness and of continuing 
unselfishness, which earned him first our admiration and then 
our total affection." "He treated us," said a minor employee 
of the Vatican, "as if we were the most important of diplo 

On January 12, 1953, Pope Pius XII convened a secret 
consistory of the cardinals in order to reveal to them the names 
of those he intended to raise to the cardinalate in a future pub 
lic consistory. In the course of the meeting the Pope said: 
"There is one further matter which we cannot pass over in si 
lence. It was our intention to raise to the Sacred College the 
two distinguished prelates who preside, each in his own Sec 
tion, over the Secretariat of State, and their names were the 
first entered on the list of Cardinals-elect already prepared by 
Us, However, these two prelates, giving palpable evidence of 
their virtue, have so insistently requested that they be dis 
pensed from accepting so high a dignity that We have con 
sidered it opportune to accept their repeated petitions and de 
sires in this matter. But in doing so We have also wished to 
reward their future in some manner; and in fact, as you know, 


We have given them a higher title which better and more fully 
corresponds to the field of their hardworking activity." 

The apostolic brief formally creating the two monsignori 
Pro-Secretaries of State gave them precedence immediately 
behind the cardinals, and preceding patriarchs, archbishops 
and bishops; they were also given most of the privileges of 
cardinals listed in the Code of Canon Law. Monsignor Mon- 
tini's tasks and his relationship to the Pope remained the same. 
When the delighted members of his staff went to greet him in 
his new role, he received them all with a smile and handshake 
and spoke beautifully, not of his new distinction, but of the 
joy of service to the Holy Father. It is not the servant but the 
service that matters, was the theme of his little talk as it was 
the theme of his life in the Secretariat. Deprived of the op 
portunity of doing the priestly work of preaching and hear 
ing confessions, of talking to the young about Christ, of being 
a priest with his people, Monsignor Montini, secretly and 
prodigally, was a priest to the people in the charity which he 
distributed during his years in the Vatican. "We exist for 
others, not ourselves," he once said, "and what we possess is 
not for ourselves but for them." 

His only passion of acquisition centered in books, and his 
apartment in the Vatican was lined with them: books on so 
ciology, theology, literature, biography, choice books to satisfy 
the hunger he felt for renewal in mind and spirit after the 
draining hours spent serving others. He was a voracious reader 
of newspapers, as became the son of a journalist, an acute ob 
server of trends, critical of journalistic intemperance and 
wildly speculative pondering and pontificating in print. In 
his address to journalists after his election to the Papacy he 
would say: "For this coverage (of Pope John's death and the 
conclave), which was on the whole so dignified and reverent, 
We owe you Our praise and Our gratitude. We believe that 


Our praise and gratitude correspond to the praise and grati 
tude of your numberless readers. . . . Should We dilute the 
expression of Our gratitude because of any flights of fancy, in 
accuracies, or anything unsuitable that may have been noticed 
in reports and interpretations of this event, too pertinent to 
Our person and over-controlled by public opinion? We will be 
indulgent toward those arbiters of journalism and alas, they 
are not so few and instead fix Our eyes on the aggregate 
value of your service of disseminating information; in general 
We have seen it to be considerate and well disposed toward 
Our humble person, and serious and respectful toward the 
Holy See, so We willingly give it the reward of Our public 
recognition and of Our gratitude." 

In 1954 the health of the Holy Father gave cause for con 
cern. Always impatient with physical infirmities, Pius XII 
drove himself to work against the advice of doctors, at seventy- 
eight adhering to the schedule which had been his for years. 
He seemed more dependent than ever on Monsignor Montini. 
Yet in November of that year the Pope, in a move which 
caused surprise and speculation in Vatican circles, named 
Monsignor Montini archbishop of Milan in succession to Car 
dinal Schuster. Monsignor Montini was, the Pope said grace 
fully, his "gift to the people of Milan." 

Monsignor Montini was stunned and overwhelmed. To the 
Pope he said, "Holy Father, do you think I am capable of this 
charge?" And the Pope gave him an embrace as his answer. 
The apostolic letter of appointment written by the Holy Father 
to his Pro-Secretary said: ". . . You, O beloved son, appeared 
to Us the person most indicated [for the post] because by an 
almost daily intimacy We know your excellence and talents, 
your strength of soul and your sincere piety joined to zeal for 
the salvation of souls. Thus in the long years in which you 
have been close to Us in dedicating yourself to the care of 


ecclesiastical matters, not only have you merited well of the 
Apostolic See but you have also had a means of gaining much 
experience of men and their affairs, so much so as to appear 
to Us to be the one best prepared to assume the spiritual gov 
ernment of that metropolis." A curial cardinal who knew 
Montini well said of him at this time: "There are those who 
are equal to him in intellect, but I have met none who are his 
spiritual superiors. None!" 

There were tears in Monsignor Montini's eyes as he made 
his farewells to the Secretariat and to the diplomatic corps. 
The entire corps turned out for the farewell ceremony, and in 
its name the French ambassador, Count Vladimir d'Ormesson, 
spoke of the strong impression made on them all by the Holy 
Father's gesture of sacrifice in naming Monsignor Montini to 
Milan. To Montini he said: "Monsignor, in the very heart of 
Catholicism and in the service of a great Pope, you have 
passed years of intensive and magnificent work; but you have 
also passed years of heavy import in the history of poor hu 
manity. Some among us have been able to appreciate, in the 
worst moments of the torment in which we have all lived, the 
constant delicacy of your heart, your spirit of justice and of 
charity. . . . We who came here so often ... to set before 
you many of the questions which preoccupied us, how could 
we have failed to be aware of the generous understanding, the 
keen intuition, the balance of mind and the inexhaustible de 
sire to find the just solution in all matters which we have en 
countered in you? . . . Permit me to add that what we have 
respected and most loved in you is that behind the diplomatic 
official we have always found the priest. Be assured, Monsig 
nor, that in our eyes it is this which is most important." 

Monsignor Montini was visibly moved as he rose to address 
the diplomatic corps. He thanked them for their kindness, 
their courtesy, their delicacy. He recalled to their minds what 
they had been through together during the war: "How can we 


forget those Christmas Masses, those gatherings of all the 
diplomats of countries at war with one another, who during 
that sacred night filled with human and divine mystery, 
seemed to forget the conflict and to find it a natural thing to be 
close to one another in celebrating the peace, the fraternity 
and the love of Christian civilization?" Then, with a smile, 
remembering the Holy Year and the importunities by which 
the members of the corps had been besieged by visitors from 
their countries :". . . Holy Year with its great and spectacular 
moments, during which the diplomatic corps exercised, even 
to the point of heroism, the virtue of Roman hospitality!" And 
then seriously: "Is it not true that the diplomatic relations 
with the Holy See, which honor the countries you represent, 
have always been on both sides inspired by the most sincere 

He told them that in his going nothing would be changed: 
"In those who succeed me here you will always have what I 
have ever sought to offer you: the highest measure of esteem, 
the highest recognition, the firmest and most devout intention 
of working with you for the good of the world." Monsignor 
Montini then accepted from the corps the gift of a magnificent 
episcopal ring, shook the hand of each member for the last 
time, and spoke to each a word of gratitude and affection. 

On the 12th of December as a light drizzle fell on Rome, in 
the baroque splendor of St. Peter's, the least baroque of Ro 
man prelates lay face down on the floor of the sanctuary as 
he had on the day of his ordination to the priesthood, and 
heard the Sistine Choir in the name of the thousands present 
beseech God and His saints to bless and sanctify him in his 
episcopal office, to confirm him in grace that he might serve 
the Milanese 6 as he had served the sovereign Pontiff, with 

e Thousands of Milanese in St. Peter's for the ceremony broke into 
applause for their new archbishop, forgetting that only the Pope is ap 
plauded in the Basilica. 


total devotion. The Holy Father himself had wished to conse 
crate the new archbishop and had given him his pectoral cross, 
but he now lay seriously ill in the adjoining palace, and Mon- 
signor Montini received the fullness of the priesthood from 
the bearded Frenchman, Cardinal Tisserant, dean of the Col 
lege of Cardinals, with co-consecrators the bishop of Brescia, 
Giacinto Tredici, and the vicar capitular of Milan, Domenico 
Bernareggi, titular bishop of Famagosta. 

Nevertheless the courageous Pope was not to be absent. At 
a moment in the ceremony, over loud-speakers installed in 
the basilica, the low, clear voice of the Pontiff was heard speak 
ing from his apartment. He declared himself to be spiritually 
present at this episcopal consecration which, because of his af 
fection for the one being consecrated, he had reserved to him 
self, but that Providence had not allowed him to fulfill his 
intention. He went on: "It is indeed consoling for the Father 
who has not been able to impose his hands while invoicing 
the Holy Spirit, to raise them at this moment to bless his faith 
ful collaborator, one who has today become his brother in the 

Brother to Pope and bishops, father to the faithful of Milan 
who awaited with pride and anticipation the prelate whom 
the Pope was sending them, Archbishop Montini prepared to 
leave Rome, its memories and associations. The way in which 
he spent his Christmas night that year is revealing. In the 
Secretariat of State he had been quite secretly a moving force 
behind the work done by his friend Don Carlo Gnocchi in 
assisting children who had lost limbs or been disfigured in 
explosions during the war and afterward from unexploded 
bombs and mines. A center for them had been established in 
Rome at the Foro Italico, and Montini helped support it di 
rectly and through appeals to others for assistance. Don 
Gnocchi had also given shelter to young victims of polio, at 
Monsignor Montinfs insistence, after Montini, in 1952, had 


visited a summer colony established for them at Ostia. He said 
afterward, "I was literally assaulted by the mothers of these 
young ones, overcome with the anguish of not knowing where 
to bring their children after their brief stay near the sea. The 
children afflicted by polio in Italy alone number some sixty 
thousand, and I could not forget those eyes full of maternal 
pleading. I could not forget what I had seen the arms and 
legs of these children like thin, dry branches. Never in my life 
would I be able to forget!" 

After this visit to Ostia he had turned to Don Gnocchi, a 
vibrant, totally dedicated man; few words were necessary be 
tween them. A section of Don Gnocchi's institute for youth 
was set aside for these young victims, and it was to them that 
Montini came to spend his first Christmas night as archbishop 
of the mighty see of Milan. As they awaited the archbishop's 
arrival, Father Gnocchi and a visitor were going through the 
mail piled on the priest's desk. The "useless letters," as Don 
Gnocchi called them, those containing only praise of his work, 
went immediately into the wastebasket; those containing more 
substantial evidence of support were laid aside. At one point 
Don Gnocchi opened a letter from an anonymous citizen of 
Milan praising the archbishop and himself for the work they 
had done together; Father Gnocchi tore it up and threw it 
into the wastebasket with the remark, "That's not worth 
much." But looking at the basket a few minutes later, his sharp 
eyes spotted a fragment of paper carrying the words, "one 
million lire" (about $1,500). 

When Archbishop Montini arrived he found Father Gnoc 
chi and the visitor on their knees on the floor, the contents of 
the wastebasket all around them, frantically looking for the 
other pieces of the check. With a chuckle and the remark, 
"Next time, Don Carlo, be more careful," the archbishop 
dropped to his knees and searched with them until the last 
piece had been found. Going out afterward he found all the 


little ones gathered to meet him; one small girl, a polio victim, 
her legs twisted, wanted to accompany him and, putting her 
hand in his, tried to walk painfully beside him. The arch 
bishop bent down, picked her up and carried her in his arms, 
and there were tears in his eyes. For the little sufferers who 
filled the chapel he said his three Masses that night his last 
Christmas in Rome. 

As the time for his departure drew near he wrote in a letter 
to the Pope: "To say what are my sentiments at the moment 
of leaving this blessed home is not possible. But quieting the 
whirlwind of memories, of impressions and of thoughts . . . 
I feel the overwhelming need to tell Your Holiness of my in 
tense filial gratitude for the favors, whose very number and 
magnitude I can never count nor measure, which have been 
bestowed on me by the paternal, generous, ever renewed and 
ever loving goodness of Your Holiness." 

"Archbishop Montini leaves Rome with nothing, nothing 
except what he carries with him of our appreciation and love," 
said a Roman newspaper on the day of his departure. And so 
he went; sitting in the railroad carriage on a cold January day, 
a shawl tucked around him to keep him warm, his possessions 
other than his books contained in a suitcase borrowed from his 
brother Ludovico, his thoughts no longer in Rome but in the 
Milan which awaited him. He remembered the question he had 
asked the Pope when he received his appointment: "Holy Fa 
ther, do you think I am capable of this charge?" And he re 
membered and was consoled by the answer the Holy Father 
had given him. 

5. "And So I Came to Milan" 

Saint Augustine 

In the middle of the great plain of Lombardy stands Milan, 
the financial, commercial, literary and cultural pivot of Italy. 
The region of which it is the heart and center was once the 
battlefield of Europe; fed by Italy's largest river, the Po, it is 
one of Europe's richest regions, covering 7.6 per cent of 
Italy's national territory but containing over 15 per cent of its 
inhabitants. The city itself has a population of 1,581,000, but 
in the sprawling suburbs and clustering villages and towns of 
the commune are another 1,569,000 people. The Milanese 
reputation for business enterprise goes back to the twelfth 
century when its merchants and bankers made Lombard 
Street in London a symbol of commerce and finance. Indus 
trial, fast moving, creative and sophisticated, Milan lacks the 
warmth and color and charm of most Italian cities, and, some 
what self-consciously and defensively, projects a verve and 
pace which makes it, more than other Italian cities, identical 
in mood and problems with other great metropolitan centers 
of the world. 

In its thinking as in its commerce, Milan has always, es 
pecially in modern times, looked across the Alps to find its 
cultural and political challenge. The eighteenth-century En- 


"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 87 

lightenment took root there; Napoleon was anointed and 
crowned himself king of Italy in the cathedral, itself a symbol 
of Milanese ultramontane thinking; and the Risorgimento 
found ready welcome. It is a city proud of its present, aware of 
its past, a very symbol of modem urban civilization, "rich, 
clean, productive, full of diversions and amenities, but soul 
less and leaning to neurosis and despair." In this it is a re 
flection of the restlessness and disenchantment which pervade 
the whole of Italy today. "Western 'social progress,' which has 
everywhere produced unsatisfactory emancipation and a com 
plete urbanization of the soul, is a relatively recent force in 
Italy. Finding themselves committed to the visible benefits 
and the concealed contradictions of the modern world, the 
Italians, remarkably naive where they are not exceptionally 
cunning, have experienced shocks of revulsion and alarm at 
every social level." * 

But the greatness of Milan today reflects only dimly the 
greatness which has been hers at various times through the 
centuries. From Milan, in 313, Constantine issued his edict 
of toleration which made of the outcast Christian Church a 
respectable one. Here, in 390, the Bishop Ambrose, former 
Roman prefect of the city, by acclamation made the spiritual 
leader of the Milanese, stood before the door of his basilica 
and barred entrance to Theodosius, Emperor of the West, un 
til he had done penance for the massacre of 7,000 at Salonica. 
The tormented Augustine was converted here. Here the Ren 
aissance flowered, and to this city, in 1564, sent from Rome 
by his uncle Pope Paul IV, came the twenty-six-year-old 
Cardinal Charles Borromeo, a man "whom Jews might bless 
and Protestants adore," to reform a people and a Church in a 
see where no archbishop had resided for over eighty years. 
Ambrose and Charles these names enclose Milan in more 
than a thousand years of her history, the one standing at the 

1 John J. Navone, in The Commonweal, March 15, 1963. 


entrance to its medieval era, his back turned to the crumbling 
Empire: the other, Borromeo, standing at its close, both con 
secrating by their sanctity a Church which in her liturgy re 
members Ambrose, 2 and which in her life still reflects the 
dynamism of the tall, thin, ugly young man from Rome who 
restored her pride and practice to the ancient Church of Mi 

Nearly sixteen hundred years after Ambrose and four hun 
dred after Carlo Borromeo, their successor, another "man 
from Rome," Giovanni Battista Montini, was preparing, on 
January 5, 1954, to enter his archdiocese to take on the most 
challenging assignment in all Italy. Another predecessor in 
Milan, Achille Ratti, later Pius XI, had said: "It is easier to be 
Pope than archbishop of Milan." The archdiocese, sprawling, 
vast, and complex, with over three million Catholics, heavily 
industrial but agricultural too, with social and religious prob 
lems of enormous intricacy, a top Communist regional party 
to combat and reconcile, with the backwash of the war adding 
to and confusing the perspective, presented Archbishop Mon 
tini with a challenge which dwarfed any other in his life. The 
quiet corridors of the Vatican, the genteel encounters, the 
diplomatically and religiously aseptic life had been left be 
hind, and he would have to be at the top of his powers, end 
lessly creative and exhaustively engaged, if his people and 
their problems were to yield to him. "He who knows Milan 
knows the world of the twentieth century." He came in nomine 
Domini, in the name of the Lord, but others had come in that 

2 The Ambrosian rite, disputed in its origin but generally thought to 
be Roman, has certain distinguishing characteristics: a different ar 
rangement of the Kyrie; an offertory in the cathedral of bread and 
wine by the lay people; the Credo sung just before the Preface; no bells 
at the Consecration; the breaking of the Host just before the Pater 
Noster; the Agnus Dei used only at requiem Masses. The sequence of 
color of the vestments is also different, with black used for Lent. Most 
feasts have a proper Preface. 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 89 

same name and had been overwhelmed by difficulty and in 
difference. If Milan was, as the French ambassador to the 
Vatican had said, "cut to his measure," it still remained for 
him to prove that he was not merely "a diplomat who cele 
brates Mass," but one who could touch hearts and move not 
only those who awaited him with joy but the thousands for 
whom his coming was a matter of supreme unconcern. 

Archbishop Montini reached the town of Lodi, in the prov 
ince of Emilia, adjoining Lombardy, at a few minutes after 
four o'clock in the afternoon of the day on which he left 
Rome. The rapido train on which he traveled made an un 
scheduled stop for the archbishop to leave the train, and 
when he descended he was met by prelates of the archdiocese 
and representatives of the provincial and city governments 
who would have the honor of accompanying him into his 
archdiocese. He walked quickly along the special carpet laid 
for him and into the station hung with draperies hastily as 
sembled from dusty cupboards, for it was years since Lodi 
had received so distinguished a visitor. The welcome over, the 
archbishop left the station, and as he did a group of railroad 
workers, shunted behind barricades with other curious or de 
vout, called out to him, "Archbishop, give us your blessing!" 
And the archbishop's quick eyes sought them out; he smiled 
and traced a blessing over them, and he was in the car heading 
out of Lodi. 

The procession crossed into Lombardy over the Lambro 
River. Once on Lombard soil, the archbishop stopped the car, 
and kneeling on the damp, slushy pavement, his hat laid care 
fully beside him, he prayed to the Virgin: "Under thy protec 
tion, O holy Mother of God . . ." and, having said a prayer 
to the Holy Spirit, he leaned forward and reverently kissed 
the land of Lombardy. Dusk was falling, the only illumina 
tion provided by the headlights of the cars, throwing into re 
lief the kneeling archbishop and those surrounding him 


amazement, alarm, concern and delight flitting over their 
faces, their hands extended as if to assist or prevent him. 
When he rose to his feet the archbishop opened his arms in a 
wide embrace, but his words, "And now . . ." were drowned 
by the roar of the motors. That his gesture was unexpected is 
clear, yet it was a typical Montinian gesture, born of emotion 
and his keen sense of symbolism, and it sped before him into 
Milan to the intense gratification of the Milanese. They knew 
of the brilliance and fame of their new archbishop, but they 
had had as yet little knowledge of those personal characteris 
tics which render one simpatico, a word which is a synthesis 
of the appealing qualities which Italians find important, even 
in archbishops. 

Archbishop Montini spent the first two nights which pre 
ceded his taking formal possession of his archdiocese in the 
town of Rho, a few miles from Milan. There he was the guest 
of the Oblate Fathers in their college attached to the Sanctu 
ary of the Virgin of Sorrows, founded in 1755. A crowd was 
on hand to greet him and to keep him late into the night ap 
pearing on the balcony of his room to bless them. January 5th 
he observed as a day of retreat. 

At two o'clock on the feast of the Epiphany, the archbishop 
left Rho, telling the people with gentle charm that he could 
happily spend the rest of his days there. His journey was a 
short one, bringing him in half an hour to the historic church 
of Sant'Eustorgio within the city limits of Milan, the church 
from which the cortege of a new archbishop, in earlier days 
mounted on a white mule, traditionally proceeded through the 
streets to the cathedral. Sant'Eustorgio is the church which 
claims, with greater pride than accuracy, to possess the relics 
of the Three Magi. A great banner, now hung from its facade, 
welcomed the archbishop: "From the Basilica of the Magi in 
Saint Eustorgio may the star of Bethlehem guide the way of 
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Giovanni Battista Montini, 


come in the name of the Lord on the day of Epiphany among 
his people, to lead them in their meeting with the Divine." On 
the threshold of the church the archbishop was met by the 
mayor of Milan who presented to him a crucifix which he 
kissed reverently. After entering the church for a short adora 
tion, he went to the presbytery for the donning of his pontifi 
cal robes and the presentation of his rochet to the pastor, an 
other tradition. What was not a tradition but a gesture, simply 
and beautifully expressed, was a written and personal invita 
tion to 1,200 of the city's poor to be his guests at dinner that 

As the 140th archbishop of Milan made his entrance into 
his see city, the day was biting cold and a driving sleet was fall 
ing, but he chose to ride in an open car, the mayor of Milan 
beside him, the rain forming puddles on his hat and sliding 
off onto his shoulders and lap. "I want the people to see me," 
he said. Before and behind him on horseback rode the uni 
formed carabinieri. Through the ugly outskirts of the city the 
procession wound slowly, through acres of cement and blocks 
of flats, new streets like gashes opening on every side. It was 
a cheerless, almost desolate sight, 3 the only warmth provided 
by the people huddled under umbrellas or peering through 
windows from the comfort of their houses, waving and clap 
ping as their archbishop waved back or raised his hand in 

When the procession reached the Cathedral in the center 
of the city, the great square in front was packed with people, 
their umbrellas bobbing and bumping as they jostled one an 
other to catch a glimpse of the archbishop, by now thor 
oughly drenched. He seemed oblivious to his damp condition, 
lingering on the steps of the cathedral, taking off his glasses to 
dry them, blessing the people once again. Inside the immense 

3 Months later Archbishop Montini said: "Milan appeared to me as 
an immense, hostile forest." 


Duomo, hung with draperies and tapestries, its vaulted heights 
resounding with the music of welcome, the archbishop made 
his adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and then mounted 
the handsome, massive pulpit in the cathedral of Ambrose 
and Charles. He stood for a moment, mitred and silent, 
flanked by candle-bearing acolytes, a gothic figure in the 
gloom which the hundreds of lights and tapers could not 
wholly dissipate. 

Thirty thousand people waited for him to speak his first 
words. His sermon was long, well developed and articulated. 
He spoke of his last meeting with Pope Pius: "The Pope was 
then ill. When I presumed to ask a directive for my future 
ministry, His Holiness with a profound and paternal accent 
which I now echo said to me, 'Preserve the deposit,' that is, 
of the Apostolic Roman Catholic faith." In this sermon the 
new archbishop touched on labor: "May this field which here 
surrounds me become truly Christian. It will be my care to 
cooperate so that instead of a field of battle, labor will become 
a terrain of sincere and peaceful human encounter. . . . 
Wherever there is suffering or injustice or legitimate aspira 
tion for social improvement there will be the frank and solid 
defense of a pastor and a father." 

There were words from Pope Pius XII for him and his 
people on this day: "On him We invoke from God, under the 
auspices of the great father of the Ambrosian Church, the 
spirit of his admirable predecessor, Charles Borromeo. Like 
San Carlo, who was given to the Lombard metropolis by a 
Pope who considered him a fruitful collaborator, so too may 
the new pastor . . . give to his flock what the Shepherd of 
shepherds and the souls entrusted to him expect from his ac 
tions and from his life. May he be the glory of his children; 
may his children be his crown!" 

The archbishop celebrated his first Mass in the Milan 
cathedral in the Ambrosian rite, and then, through ranks of 


torch-bearing youths, he rode to the archiepiscopal palace 
while the hymn Christus vincit, Christus regnat rang out in 
the gelid air. 

The words spoken by the archbishop in his cathedral had 
been words expressing awareness and a spirit of conciliation 
and love. It remained to see what the new archbishop of Mi 
lan would do. 

Archbishop Montini was a man with a plan. His instinct 
and training rebelled against whatever temptation presented 
itself to get caught up in a flurry of activity in which service 
would be counterfeited by mere episcopal busyness. He in 
tended to base his activity on a true appreciation of conditions 
in the archdiocese, not the conventional stereotyped perspec 
tive but one reflecting his people in their lives and in their 
needs. Mere words would not do but neither would action 
devoid of informed direction. "Our ordinary error which the 
Lord will forgive us because we have little time, little re 
sources and few talents, but which objectively is an error is 
empiricism, the doing of something for the sake of doing 
something. Those are wrong who say, "Let's get busy on the 
apostolate, 9 almost as if the apostles worked haphazardly. The 
art of the apostolate is that of the fisherman; it is the art of 
adapting means to particular ends. For this reason it is neces 
sary to be eminently experimental. . . ." 

Not all of his experiments would work but he would be 
endlessly creative in shaping them. If his archdiocese was in 
dustrial, then his mission was to workers and employees; if 
the city of Milan was a center of cultural creativity then the 
intellectuals, so many of them estranged "too modern for 
the clericals, too Catholic for the secularists" must be 
reached; if his people were without homes and schools and 
social services and churches, then these must be provided. If, 
in common with the other new Europeans born of the war, 


their materialistic dream was transcending their commitment to 
God, then they must be taught. New ways, new words, bold 
ness were needed; the gospel must be preached to twentieth- 
century man in twentieth-century ways; 4 and it was not the 
twentieth-century way of Archbishop Montini to wait in his 
cathedral for his people to find him. 

He was to write: "It is the priest who must make the move, 
not the people. ... It is useless for him to ring his bell; 
nobody will listen to it. Instead it is for him to hear the sirens 
sounding from the factories, those temples of technical 
achievement where the modern world lives and breathes. It is 
for tie priest to make of himself a missionary if he would have 
Christianity abide and become a new living leaven of civiliza 
tion." And again: "If the pastor begins to move, if he goes 
out and seeks, if he calls, if he suggests then he has a chance 
of succeeding." 

His first significant public appearance and statement were 
made three days after he had taken possession of his cathe 
dral. Although suffering from a cold he had caught on the day 
of his arrival, he had been out of his residence already, visiting 
hospitals, casually dropping by the apartment of two elderly 
women who, bedridden, had written him of their regret at 
not being able to welcome him. But it was in Sesto San Gio 
vanni, the steel city of northern Italy, called "Little Stalin- 

4 "The Church faces the same tasks that nations and states and the 
Western world in general have to face the problem of man, how he 
is to be housed and fed and how he can support himself. We need so 
cial and economic regeneration. And then man must be made aware of 
his true nature in other words we need intellectual and religious re 
generation. These are problems for the world and they are also prob 
lems for the world Church far more so, for instance, than the question 
of liturgical reforms. If these problems are solved without us, or to our 
disadvantage, then the whole of Europe will be lost to the Church, even 
if every altar faces the people and Gregorian chant is the rule of every 
parish." Alfred Delp, The Prison Meditations, op. cit. 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 95 

grad" because of its formidable Communist apparatus, that 
he chose to identify himself and his mission with the workers 
of Lombardy. 

"I begin here," he said, "my colloquy with the people of 
Milan. And since I do not wish that there ever be secrets be 
tween me and my children, I confess that in this moment I 
am realizing a dream which I have cherished for many years 
to speak to real workers. I hope that my ministry here and 
elsewhere will give me the grace to resolve the equivocation 
that some may wish to bring between the Church and the 
working class. More than once it has been said that I would 
be the archbishop of the workers, but until this moment I 
have never replied to this affirmation. Well, here today I want 
to dissolve my reserve . . ." Then, turning to bless the cor 
nerstone of a new community building for women and chil 
dren, he said, "And now, with prayer, we place the first stone 
of what is to be a new Sesto San Giovanni, a new Milan may 
they be Christian!" 

The significance of Archbishop Montini's desire to be 
known above all as the "archbishop of the workers" lay not in 
its romantic or political implications, 5 but rather in his deep 
awareness of the truth of words spoken by a predecessor in the 
see of Milan. Achille Ratti had said: "The greatest scandal of 
the nineteenth century is that the Church should have lost 
the working class." Montini shared with Ratti the conviction 
that the loss was part of a larger failing: the Church's es 
trangement from the times. Recoiling from the shock of the 
Reformation, wounded and defensive, the Church had tended 
to seek its temporal shelter under the protection of the estab 
lished European monarchies. Itself a holder of large temporal 

5 It was generally believed that it was Montini who had persuaded 
Pope Pius XTT to swing the Church's active support behind the postwar 
liberals of the Christian Democratic parties in Europe with their con 
crete programs for Europe's social reform. 


possessions in Italy, the Papacy of the nineteenth century was 
inclined to defend the established political orders at a time 
when they were doomed to collapse, and to look upon the 
secular democracies which replaced them as suspect and hos 
tile. They were, in fact, largely indifferent to the Church, and 
the estrangement hurt most deeply those whom the Church 
and government should have cooperated in assisting. 

In 1955, the Communists in Italy still boasted "a Commu 
nist cell for every church spire." That the Communists had not 
taken lightly the appointment of Montini to Milan was seen in 
the almost simultaneous assignment to Lombardy, as party 
director, of the number two man of the Communist Party in 
Italy, Pietro (the Cask) Secchia. Once described as the "per 
fect Bolshevik/' the tough, gold-toothed, fifty-two-year-old 
Secchia, who had spent twelve years in Fascist jails, left the 
central Secretariat of the Communist headquarters on the 
"Street of the Dark Shops" in Rome to tighten the discipline 
and draw the battle lines against the sensitive, ascetic monsi- 
gnor from the Vatican, the type of intellectual whom Secchia 
most despised. 

Secchia was a formidable opponent, burly, fearless, com 
mitted; he had directed the drive which raised membership 
in the Italian Communist Party from 400,000 to more than 
2,000,000. But Montini in his person and in his office was 
now the leader of over 3,000,000, many of them trying to live 
two faiths; his job was to persuade them that "Christianity will 
have the power to raise the people up anew, to bring about 
the return of justice, to elevate the working class." Such efforts, 
he would tell them, had been made by others, but they were 
based on economic motives or on hatred. 

Earlier he had said: "Whoever has faith in the power of 
Christian charity has already within him the sound basis for 
social responsibility. . . . Charity can give birth to a mod 
ern world. If it has not yet appeared it is because we have not 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 97 

yet applied the eternal law of the gospel. . . ." "One of the 
greatest evils of our time is precisely this: that Christians are 
not Christian and that the mystery of newness and continuity 
communicated to them in the baptism of resurrection is not 
lived by them. In its place are compromise, inconsistency, lack 
of logic and infidelity. These are the miserable survivals of 
a vocation that should have embraced perfection, sanctity and 
Christian fullness." 

Montini's appeal was to the gospel of Christ, Secchia's to 
the gospel of Lenin. A few days after Montini spoke at Sesto 
San Giovanni, Secchia made his first public speech. It was 
full of toughness and emotion. "Here in Milan," he told work 
ers in a rubber factory, "Socialism was born and the fight for 
liberation began [he was referring to the 1945 partisan up 
rising which he had helped to organize]. . . . Here at Milan, 
therefore, must originate a great new example of unity and 
force . . . this is not the hour of resignation or laziness. . . . 
No fear, therefore! No facile hopes!" He knew his opponent; 
the lines were drawn, and over the next few years Montini's 
appeal and action were matched and contrasted and fought. 
There was to be no slackening of the Church's efforts, directed 
not so much at fighting Communism as making the gospel a 
living, dynamic force in men's lives. 

Archbishop Montini sought to convert rather than to com 
bat the Communists. In a pastoral letter written in 1956, he 
said: "May the imprudent and the unhappy who march be 
hind the banner of Marxism know that there is Someone 
who loves them still, strongly, immensely, divinely. May they 
know that those who pursue in this world the mission of 
Christ crucified think of them, follow them, love them and 
await them in His name." 

On January 8, 1957, The New York Times carried a fea 
ture article by its Rome correspondent, Arnaldo Cortesi. Un 
der the headline "Pope's Ex-Aide Defeats Milan Red Chief," 


with the arresting subtitle "Pope's ex-aide credited with win 
ning over workers in key industrial region," the article re 
ported that the archbishop had won the first round. In shop 
steward elections in Lombard factories anticommunists won 
control for the first time in many plants and made great in 
roads in others. 6 Secchia was removed and relegated to a 
minor post in the Communist Party in Rome. 

How had Montini done it? Americans, with no oppressed 
working class and with a traditional if lukewarm respect for 
religion, may have difficulty in understanding the gulf which 
still in the early 50's separated the "haves" from the "have- 
nots" in Europe not only economically but politically, socially 
and religiously as well. The appeal of the Communists was to 
class war; Montinf s appeal was to the dignity of all men, of 
all labor, stressing the spirituality which creative and manual 
labor share. He sought to give them a vision and a hope of 
what the world could be like through the translation of Chris 
tian social principles into reality. He knew that a materially 
insecure proletariat is a plaything for any party that can pro 
vide bread or even promise it. Primum vivere, deinde evan- 
gelizare this he knew was the idea behind the great social 
encyclicals. He spoke of peace to the workers, for themselves 
and their families; and, since they were men of good will, 
they listened. But much of this they had heard before; what 
made the difference? 

Montini refused to see the world in which his people lived 
simply as the enemy, one to be fought and scorned and 
avoided. He had no illusions: "Modern labor is insensible to 
the voice of religion." He had none of the hostility of the priest 

6 The noncommunists gained control in the Fiat works, the Officine 
Mecchaniche brush and tractor plants, the Falck steel mills, and the 
Pirelli rubber factory, involving 60,000 workers. In 92 small factories 
noncommunists increased their union voting power from 8,701 to 
13,803. The communists shrank from 21,463 to 17,893. 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 99 

who is content to reject or damn all that interests the world. 
He wanted to remove every ambiguity affecting the relation 
ship of the workers to the Church and answer the suspicion 
or accusation that the Church and big business are allies. He 
knew what was in their minds that they had come to be 
lieve in his words "that religion distracts them . . . from 
their true social and economic interests, that religion lulls and 
deludes them . . . fees them in a juridic and social system 
in which others live in abundance, in security, in pleasure and 
in privilege, while they, the workers live in hardship and sub 
jection. . . . Hence class struggle, workers and employers 
locked in battle, both affected by eighteenth-century Enlight 
enment concepts of personal and class self-sufficiency without 
need for God or obligation to others. And when the Church 
sought to speak, the rich accused it of too much favoritism to 
the poor, the poor of favoring the rich. The rich dismiss the 
gospels for not giving sufficient importance to economic val 
ues, the poor dismiss them for maintaining that the poor are 

To these objections, Archbishop Montini replied: "The 
drawing together of the world of labor and of religion can 
come about only on a spiritual level. . . . Also in this area 
of life great attention must be paid to two decisive and myste 
rious factors: human liberty and the intervention of divine 
grace. . . . The law of God ties us to itself, not to the past, 
and it obligates us to new ventures which we would wish 
were even better than those of the past. Out of its own per 
fection there arises from the law that hunger and thirst for 
justice that every Christian should feel. . . . Thus the prob 
lem of the equilibrium between the present state of things and 
that one that will emerge is brought into focus. Before this 
problem all good Catholics and those who bear the responsi 
bility of pastors must be equally alert, neither to surrender to 
the mania for new ideas that which should be defended and 


conserved, nor to halt the progress of what is lawful and 

He spoke to them in their language about their interests: 
"We hear today that the world of labor is divided. Many battle 
against us; many march in other organizations. Nevertheless, 
they share many of your desires, your sacrifices, your aspira 
tions. . . . You must have the boldness of those who possess 
the whole truth. Do not be afraid you are playing the losing 
cards. You are love, the future, success, victory. They are 
automatons. They crush their adversaries; if they won we 
would all be crushed. . . . But our victory will not damage 
others. . . . However, we do not want so much to win as to 
convince; we wish for the others to share our joy, our life, our 
liberty, our well-being, our future. We wish for them to be at 
peace with us. And we will pray for them and tell them, 
'Brother, come with me if you have lost your way.' We do not 
want a selfish class struggle. Christ is with us all." 

He spoke these words and similar ones, not in throne rooms, 
in ecclesiastical settings of baroque splendor, but in the grime 
and noise and sweat of factories. The Communists answered 
him with a bombing of his residence at two in the morning on 
January 5, 1956, when two pounds of dynamite were thrown 
through a window, shattering all the windows of the building, 
and a part of the walls. Archbishop Montini, still at his desk 
at that late hour, went on working "The gesture of a mad 
man" was his only comment. 

The futile, exasperated attack spoke tellingly of the inroads 
the archbishop had made in two years. It had not been easy. 
He went to find the worker in his steel mill, his factory, his 
shop, his store; he went down into mines, into the fields. The 
dusty black Alfa Romeo was always on the road. The work 
ers were not accustomed to see priests, let alone archbishops, 
walking ramps, climbing ladders, peering into furnaces, ask 
ing them about their work. Some responded with hostility, 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 101 

with booing; he continued to smile and move among them. 
One man held back because there was grease on his hand; 
Montini seized and held it as he asked Viirn about his family. 
His thoughtfulness was instinctive. To some miners in Con- 
doglia he remembered to send an accordion to cheer them in 
their isolation. 

On his first Christmas in Milan the archbishop had chosen 
to say Mass, not in the splendor of his cathedral, but in a wood 
and tin shanty at Porto di Mare. He brought the mayor of 
Milan with him to show him that the "economic miracle" of 
Milan had stopped short of Porto di Mare. There was no 
electricity for him that night, but bonfires burned in the dis 
trict in his honor. 

The Communists sought to organize the opposition to him, 
to refuse "him access to the assembly lines and shops where he 
seemed to spend a good part of his day. In one factory, man 
agement, too, disturbed by his outspokenness, tried to censor 
his talk before he delivered it. It came to be that when a visitor 
who called to see Mm was told that the archbishop was out, 
the question came back: "What factory is he visiting today?" 
Wherever he went he carried a portable Mass kit in a brief 
case, 7 and he did not hesitate to celebrate Mass in factories and 
shops for men who had not been to church for twenty or thirty 
years. The democratic feeling and social mobility characteris 
tic of the United States gives the American priest the oppor 
tunity of knowing the poor, the middle class, and the rich; 
his European peer is not so fortunate. Often drawn from a 
single social group, isolated from his people in terms of his 
torical judgments no longer viable, he tends to live apart 
from them, to become on some levels incomprehensible to 
them, and since he is isolated he may be somewhat ignorant 
of the problems they confront in their daily living. The arch- 

7 The irreverent among the Milanese called him, not without affec 
tion, "the board chairman of Jesus Christ." 


bishop was showing the way to his traditionally conservative 
priests, and the people were responding slowly but with in 
creasing affection and admiration. 8 

Archbishop Montini had never forgotten the rows of 
worker flats as he had seen them the first day he rode into 
Milan, dreary warrens of deadening sameness. He knew that 
modern assembly line techniques tended to deaden all new 
ness, all joy in men who felt nothing of themselves enriching 
their work or being enriched by it. It was necessary to restore 
to them a concept of the holiness of the work they did, to give 
a Christian purpose to their lives. "You are the first-born sons 
of the world of work because you give your brothers the tools 
with which they will work. No work is accomplished except 
with materials that have passed through your hands. . . . 
Does the man seeking to produce a particular form or func 
tion know that he has before him, almost springing forth from 
his hands, neither a simple mass of material nor an idol . . . 
but a mirror? Yes, a mirror made by him from a ray of di 
vine perfection. Does he know that when he works he is pray 
ing?" And again: "Work is great but it is not an end in itself; 
if it remained an end in itself, it would be a yoke, slavery 
and chastisement." 

In a pastoral letter he said: "I should like to see the workers 
given every assistance social, professional, religious. I should 
like them to realize not only the wrong done them by forcing 
on them a materialistic view of life, but that our own spiritual 
view of life has far more respect for them as persons and 
recognizes in them the boundless treasure of a soul that thinks 

8 In 1960, as cardinal, he went to Assist to give a conference on the 
Papacy. Some workers came from Prato and were met by a priest who 
warned them that the theme would be beyond them. "We haven't come 
for that," they replied. "He (Cardinal Montini) is someone who really 
has our interests at heart we only want to kiss his hand and then off 
we go!" 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 103 

and prays and believes. I should like to see technical schools 
helping them to realize that there can be a vocation, a re 
demptive value, a religious dignity in human work. I should 
like their days of rest to be sacred and inviolable. I should 
like their public holidays to become marked with flowers and 
song and thought and prayer, and to be truly occasions for 
recreation of the spirit. I should like to see prayer once again 
linked with work, sustaining it, ennobling it, sanctifying it. 
The working people are on their way toward such a spiritual 
outlook and the Church of Christ looks forward to its attain 

"I feel myself to be your friend, I understand so many of 
your thoughts," he said to the workmen of the Pirelli factory. 
"I also understand that you look at me with a silent question 
in your hearts. Now I have nothing to give you; I am empty- 
handed. But I know that precisely because you are workers, 
you seek for something which lies beyond your labor, beyond 
your salaries, beyond the material. You seek a little of the true 
life, a little happiness. And from this point of view I have im 
mense treasures to give you: hope, the sense of human dignity, 
immense horizons of light. You have souls, and I have treas 
ures with which to feed them." 

Management did not escape his attention: "The wealthier 
classes should recognize the respect of the Church for private 
property in its essential forms, its constant, vigilant, often 
stern but always right and fatherly warnings on the moral and 
social dangers of selfish wealth, on the necessity of a more 
just distribution of economic goods, on the beauty of a disin 
terested and general contribution to the elevation of the work 
ing classes. The social doctrine of the Church has never de 
nied the functions of private enterprise, provided this does 
not damage human dignity and the legitimate aspirations of 
those who take part in the productive process." 

He was forthright. "The workers were not the first to 


abandon religion," lie told the workers of Sesto San Giovanni, 
"but the industrialists and economists of the last century, 
who dreamed of founding progress, civilization and peace 
without God and without Christ. Let us not say that religion 
is the opium of the people and that it contrives to extinguish 
their drive and hopes of rising in the world; on the contrary, 
religion is the light, the glory and the strength of such aspira 

He was candid in pointing out that much of the social and 
political tension afflicting Italy lay outside the province of the 
Church and depended on the state of human relations between 
employers and employees. But Christian teachings had to be 
dusted off, refurbished and preached day in and day out, so 
that the protagonists in the drama might act out their roles in 
truth, and with a script which was ageless in its call to morality 
and justice. The adaptation was to be worked out between 
employer and employees in mutual respect and awareness of 
their Christian vocation. 

His directness, his identification with the workers, his ob 
vious affection for them, his sharply articulated social mes 
sages, his tireless pursuit of his people was in vivid contrast 
to the traditional picture of a prelate presiding grandly and 
somewhat remotely over a vast archdiocese. Archbishop Mon- 
tini saw his work in Milan as part of a pattern, a mode of 
modern Church action which could fit other dioceses with 
equal ease. The archdiocese of Milan was a world in micro 
cosm, urban and agricultural, with class divisions and social 
problems, embracing the believing, the indifferent, and the 
hostile, a Church in a twentieth-century world, until now 
geared in many aspects of its apostolate to eighteenth and 
nineteenth-century means. A re-formation of the Church's 
activities in areas of social progress, a commitment to the 
best of the world's values and title employment of the most 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 105 

modern techniques of communication were part of Montini's 
contribution to the life of the Milan archdiocese. 

But was all this the proper sphere of religion? "An objec 
tion that one often hears made today," the archbishop said, 
"is directed by our secular and materialistic age against the 
Christian who seeks the kingdom of heaven; it is the legiti 
macy of claim and capacity of this same Christian to seek the 
kingdom of the earth which is contested. It may be asked if 
hope for things eternal should exclude the hope for temporal 
well-being. Are the two hopes incompatible? Did not the 
Master say that no man can serve two masters? It is a delicate 
question, which shapes the torment of our age: on the one 
side are those who would choose a wholly spiritual solution, 
challenging the Christian's right to concern himself with tem 
poral things, demanding that he live a life of Utopian angel- 
ism with certain Manichean overtones; on the other side are 
those who would have the Christian gather up the benefits of 
religion with those of the profane world, somewhat as we see 
done in the Old Testament . . . The supreme precept for the 
Christian is love, together with concern for the concrete and 
human needs of his time, but he must also flee the totalitarian 
spirit of those who have no other hope than that founded on 
the things of this world." 

This is the age of labels. In his impact on the life of Milan, 
and indeed of all Italy, in his daring innovations and undis 
guised words and actions there was nothing of the tradition 
alist about Montini except his witness, day in and day out, to 
the gospel. He could not be called a conservative; therefore 
he must be a progressive, a liberal even a "leftist." In an 
Italy which stiU finds it difficult to believe that any action of 
the Church in the social sphere is divorced from political in 
tention, it was said that in his political thinking Montini was 
left of center, how far to the left depending on the convic- 


tions of the speaker. Shortly after being raised to the cardinal- 
ate, when he was in Concesio to inaugurate and bless a new 
hall attached to the Church of Sant' Antonio, he was enthusi 
astically hailed by someone with the shout: "Long live the 
priest of the Left!" The cardinal was obviously surprised and 
not pleasantly. Later, speaking to the parish priest, Don Luigi 
Bosio, he referred to the shouted greeting of the parishioner: 
"But what is this business about, 'a priest of the Left?' Priest 
of the workers, yes, but not of the Left." 

Archbishop Montini was prompt in reorganizing the dioc 
esan structure in order to give direction and continuity to the 
impetus his words were creating. He revitalized the Ambro- 
sian Social Institute, giving it the task of establishing schools 
of social formation (they now number twenty) with first two- 
year and then three-year courses of intensive study and practi 
cal application. He founded the bulletin Relazlone Sociale, en 
trusting it to a group of university students and giving them 
total autonomy as to its form and matter. His priests were not 
forgotten. "We must all become competent [in the field of 
social action]," he said. "Even as we know how to explain, 
for example, the doctrine of the sacraments and of prayer, so 
too we should be able to explain this new chapter which has 
come to be inserted in Christian teaching. It is not enough to 
practice the charity of almsgiving and of prayer; it is neces 
sary to become involved in this 'social charity.' " 

To both his priests and his people he insisted on the im 
portance of correct liturgical observance. "There are still 
those," he said, "who consider the liturgical renewal as an 
optional matter, or as one of the numerous devotional cur 
rents to which a person may adhere or not as he chooses." He 
went on to remark that sadly enough the mentality still exists 
"which thinks that the liturgical movement is a troublesome 
attempt at reformation, of doubtful orthodoxy; or a petrified, 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 107 

external ritualism which has to do merely with rubrics; or an 
archaeological fad, formalistic and 'arty*; or else a product of 
the cloister ill adapted to the people of our world; or finally, 
a preconceived opposition to piety and popular devotions." 
And by both word and example he vigorously combatted these 

He also pointed out that the Catholic Church is a mission 
ary Church and that the vitality of parishes and dioceses should 
be channeled into missionary activity. Again with the arch 
bishop pointing the way, a mission staffed by priests and sis 
ters from Milan and supported by Milanese funds was founded 
at Kariba in Southern Rhodesia and a second at Chirundu, 
also in Rhodesia. 

In order to study and coordinate the activity of his see, 
the archbishop founded the office "Pastorale Sociale" in his 
chancery under the direction of Father Cesare Pagani. Its pur 
pose was realized in guiding and encouraging the various 
Catholic organizations of workers as well as offering guidance 
and counsel at times when strikes convulsed the labor world 
of Milan, For immigrant workers there was the diocesan cen 
ter for immigrants, to offer spiritual assistance and to cooper 
ate with the city of Milan in integrating them into the working 
life of the city. Seven out of ten of these immigrants came not 
from the south but from the rural dioceses of Lombardy (Pa- 
via, Cremona, Mantua) and from the Veneto; the archbishop 
was especially desirous of obtaining priests from these regions 
to be with them. Another of his activities was to establish an 
association for aid to persons released from jail. In 1955, a 
statistical bureau was established to tabulate and card index 
the parishes of the archdiocese. 

On his arrival in Milan, Archbishop Montini knew that 
the influence of the powerful Communist-controlled General 
Confederation of Workers, with its three million members in 
Italy, must be neutralized. Italian Catholics had formed ACLI, 


the Association of Catholic Italian Workers, and with his en 
couragement this association became particularly vigorous in 
the province of Milan, with nearly 50,000 members out of a 
national membership of over a million, which now plays a 
leading role in the noncommunist Free Federation of Labor. 
Nearly a quarter of the Milanese members take educational 
courses in the modern five-story city headquarters, one of 
fourteen provincial centers, and the Lombard ACLI operates 
five rest homes for workers in the mountains and at the seaside. 

For his clergy the archbishop founded a school of social 
formation. It numbers today a hundred priests among its stu 
dents, and is attached to the Toniolo Social Institute of the 
Catholic University of Milan, through which it issues a de 
gree after two years of study and the presentation of a thesis. 
A summer school at La Mendola, summer seat of the univer 
sity, holds social seminars for the young. A new review, Dio- 
cesi di Milano, was added to the diocesan daily, L'ltalia. The 
cultural life of the city was served by the founding of the 
Academy of San Carlo which later Pope John XXIII from his 
sickbed was to praise with a message saying that it was the 
realization of a dream long fostered by him. In all these activi 
ties Archbishop Montini's method could thus be described: 
challenge by word, arouse by example, consolidate by action. 

In the last year of the war, four big Allied bombings had 
destroyed a third of Milan, but with almost Teutonic speed 
and efficiency it had all been rebuilt. Giant apartment build 
ings had sprouted to care for the dispossessed and for the 
thousands who streamed northward from the impoverished 
and depressed south. Archbishop Montini's predecessor, Car 
dinal Schuster, had founded the Domus Ambrosiana to deal 
with the problem of those thousands too poor to find homes 
other than in hovels which they constructed themselves from 
their scavenging of rubbish heaps. Through this organiza 
tion, Archbishop Montini had an entire village constructed at 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 109 

Rovagnasco, southeast of Milan, where more than three thou 
sand people were given modern apartments with at least four 

The organization known as Caritas Ambrosiana distributed 
the charity of the archdiocese, and the archbishop's "Office of 
Charity" was established to provide free medical and legal ad 
vice for his people. For the children of the underprivileged 
there were summer colonies in the mountains and by the sea; 
they were cared for in ten houses. He refused to allow the char 
ity of the archdiocese, of the Church, to become deperson 
alized, bureaucratic. Each year at Christmas he went to the 
giant Monte di Pieta, a kind of official pawnshop, and re 
deemed the objects left there during the year by people in 
need; they were his Christmas presents to them. And always 
there were his visits unofficial, unannounced to the or 
phanages, to the sick, to those without homes, and to the 
poorest of his poor, living in their shanties. "For the poor," he 
said, "we must have a special reverence, a particular solici 
tude. They are the mirror of Christ, indeed almost His living 
sacrament. They are both the inspiration and the object of our 
practice of charity. They are our brothers whose needs . . . 
impose on us an obligation. They become an annoyance to 
us if we flee them, a joy if we care for them. . . . They are 
our companions on our journey." 

In 1955, Milan was without churches for over 300,000 of 
her population. Thousands of people were arriving each year, 
drawn by the prosperity and higher wages of the Milan area, 
and the archbishop felt responsible for each one of them. The 
Osservatore Romano called this need "his predominant pas 
toral anxiety." "We must call to your attention," he said to the 
people of his archdiocese, "the great and urgent problem of 
new churches for the city of Milan and for the new districts 
which are growing everywhere." It cannot be allowed, he told 
them, that people should take root in a city without a church 


where their spirits could be fed. Hundreds of thousands, he 
said, lacked religious assistance; if something were not done 
immediately and positively the moral and civic tradition of 
the Italian people was threatened with deformation and de 

He was the first to show the way, donating what little he 
had of worth: his most precious pectoral cross, and a ring "of 
a certain value," as he said in a letter accompanying it. The 
late Enrico Mattel, something of a political gray eminence in 
Italy but a devoted member of the Milan archdiocese, was 
named to head the committee for the new churches. Various 
church groups and associations of workers, industrialists, shop 
keepers and craftsmen took over the financing of the individual 
churches built beyond the city's ancient Spanish walls, with 
the Italian government subsidizing one-fifth of the cost. 

Often the archbishop would go incognito to the outer 
reaches of the city to see for himself what was needed, to 
study the suggestions for solution, and to see the people as 
they really lived. The plan he formulated for Milan and the 
other cities of the archdiocese involved the building of new 
parishes in new areas, also subdividing those grown too large; 
according to local circumstances and needs. He insisted that 
the parishes encompass a sense of community and that people 
feel themselves members of a spiritual family. The churches 
must therefore be adapted not only to a perfect expression of 
liturgical worship, but insofar as possible be centers of a 
Christian community, each gathered around its pastor. 

During his eight years in Milan, Archbishop Montini 
blessed and consecrated seventy-two churches, and on the eve 
of his departure for the conclave after the death of Pope John 
XXin, another nineteen were under construction; in addition 
thirty-two chapels were built. "A church must be more than a 
house of prayer," he said. "It must have a children's home, a 

"AND so i CAME TO MILAN" 111 

sports field, a recreation center, a cinema, a library, a place 
where neighbors can discuss community problems." A church 
which serves as a model of the archbishop's desire to make 
each parish the heart of neighborhood life is that of Saint Ag 
nes, located in an area of the city where immigrants from the 
south and other low-paid workers live. In addition to the 
church, the parish contains a school for 800 children, an ap 
prentice training center, a vocational school for 300 young 
workers. There is a dormitory and a dining room for 150 
boarders, an athletic club, a cinema, a dispensary and an am 
bulance service for accident victims in the neighborhood. 

But the most interesting feature of the archbishop's plan to 
provide services to his people and to break down their spirit 
ual isolation, was the building of eight central chapels in the 
blocks of cooperative flats which flank the city, and his urging 
of architects to include chapels in their plans. The tenants 
were to pay each month for the maintenance of the chapel and 
other expenses involved in having a chapel in the building. In 
some buildings and clusters of buildings there are a hundred 
families, in others close to a thousand, and the archbishop re 
alized it would be easier for the priest to come to the people 
than to persuade them to go to the church. When he conceived 
this partial solution, the archbishop commented on "a new 
and profane mentality . . . where many no longer pray, 
where Christian doctrine is not taught and the sacraments are 
not administered. It is a problem of public welfare." 

His response to the problem became the blueprint of activ 
ity for the Italian Peninsula. Speaking of the explosion of 
buildings "conceived and activated," he pointed out drily, 
"on an anti-economic plan," he said: 4C No other type of build 
ing has, as do these, a popular, collective, truly social origin, 
and no other is more open to the people, to all the people, of 
our new suburbs. These buildings are not therefore only dec- 


orative monuments in the perspective, often oppressive and 
monotonous, of today's urban living: they are truly houses of 
the people, for their consolation, for their peace, for their 
faith and for their growth in goodness." 

The archbishop's "concern for the concrete and human 
needs" of his people had expressed itself in material ways: 
first, in what he had called "social charity"; secondly, in the 
building of churches. Their "growth in goodness" had always 
been the central motive. It would now become the object of a 
massive frontal attack for which the cardinal had been long 


Pope Paul VI 


Giuditta AlgMsi Montini 
mother of Pope Paul 

Giorgio Montini 
Pope Paul's father 

House in which Pope Paul was born 

Giovanni Battista Montini in the 
arms of his grandmother 

The three Montini children 
Giovanni Battista in center 

Young Montini, 1916, with two friends 

about to leave jor the front 
Photograph taken at the Institute Cesar e Arid 


Father Montini 
at the time of his ordination 


Monsignor Mont mi 
with university student, 1942 


Monsignor Montini 

at his desk in the Vatican 

Secretariat of State 


The Archbishop of Milan kisses the ground 
of his new archdiocese 


Archbishop Montini with Pope Pius XII in 1956 


Cardinal Montini visits a coal mine 
at Collio Val Trompia 

Cardinal Montinl and President Eisenhower 
meet at Notre Dame University, 1960 


Cardinals Montini and Cushing 
in press room of Daughters of St. Paul, Boston 

Cardinal Montlni and Pope John XX11I 
shortly before the Pope's death 

Cardinal Montini 

arriving in Rome to visit 

the dying Pope 


Cardinals Montini and Spellman during the Conclave 


Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, Dean of the Sacred College, 
voices homage of the Cardinals to newly-elected Pope 

Pope Paul VI greets Cardinal Rugambwa of Tanganyika 
Archbishop Enrico Dante, papal master of ceremonies, in background 

Pope Paul embraces a crippled child at Church of 
SS. Ambrose and Charles, June 29, 1963 


6. Mission to Milan 

"For you and in your serv 
ice I am a bishop; but with 
you lama Christian. Bishop 
is the title of a charge as 
sumed; Christian is the name 
of a grace received. A dan 
gerous title, a salutary name. 
Wearied in a charge which 
is personal to us, we repose 
in a benefit which is com 
mon to us all." 

Scant Augustine 

In the early days of November, 1957, posters by the hundreds 
of thousands suddenly appeared on every viewable surface in 
Milan, five years in preparation, revealing better than any- 
to the 24th of November, a thousand voices will speak to you 
of God." It was the announcement of the Great Mission of 
Milan, five years in preparation, revealing better than any 
other of Archbishop MontinTs actions his powers of organi 
zation and the vision he had of his own mission. 



All that had gone before the exhausting travel, the un 
flagging witness in person and in word, the slow building up 
of confidence and expectation in his people, the social reor 
ganization of the diocese, the construction of churches and 
schools all of it was in vain unless his people, each in his 
own life, possessed a personal relationship to God. One and a 
half million Milanese, almost all at least nominally Catholic, 
but many still morally and spiritually uprooted by the war of 
a decade before, distracted by their material preoccupations, 
disturbed by the claims of Communism, resentful still of real 
or imagined clerical injustices and indifference of the past, 1 
with a religious sense suffering from progressive attenuation 
these were his people. Having sought to provide for their 
physical well-being by massive programs of building and of 
charity, he sought to equal his activity in those spheres and 
even surpass it in a monumental spiritual solicitation of the 
city of Ambrose and of Charles. 

The idea of the Mission was first conceived at a meeting of 
the council of pastors of the city, and presented to the arch 
bishop in April of 1955. From the beginning it was deter 
mined to limit the Mission to the city parishes, since concen- 

1 "A church that makes demands in the name of a peremptory God 
no longer carries weight in a world of changing values. The new gen 
eration is separated from the clear conclusions of our traditional theol 
ogy by a great mountain of boredom and disillusion thrown up by past 
experience. We have destroyed man's confidence in us by the way we 
live. We cannot expect two thousand years of history to be an unmixed 
blessing and recommendation history can be a handicap too. But re 
cently the man turning to the Church for enlightenment has all too 
often found only a tired man to receive him a man who then had 
the dishonesty to hide his fatigue under pious words and fervent ges 
tures. At some future date the honest historian will have some bitter 
things to say about the contribution made by the churches to the crea 
tion of the mass mind, of collectivism, dictatorship and so on." Alfred 
Delp, Prison Meditations, op. cit. 


tration of effort and total awareness of it by the community 
were felt to be important psychological factors in inducing 
people, first out of curiosity and then from devotion, to attend. 
Said the archbishop: "Milan is good, intelligent and generous, 
open to spiritual progress; I think it would be hard to find an 
other city with as open a face and heart as Milan." 

The theme of the Mission would be a fundamental, easily 
grasped cornerstone concept, basic but forgotten by a world 
grown poor in spiritual insight: that God is our Creator and 
our Father; God is Providence; God became incarnate and 
entered humbly into the mainstream of man's history to save 
man; He dwells with us still in His Church. "The scope, the 
immediate target at which we aim, is a rebirth of the sense of 
religion in the consciences of the people," said the archbishop. 
"It will be a message preached to all the people without dis 
tinction, but it will be directed above all to those who, al 
though baptized, have lost the sense of mystery and of involve 
ment with God in His Church the estranged." 

Archbishop Montini personally directed the mounting of 
the Mission from the first preparatory meetings. Four commis 
sions were established: one for the press and publicity, one for 
finance, one for preaching (each preacher was given a direc 
tive with the theme developed in seven meditations and seven 
moral instructions prepared by the faculty of the major semi 
nary of the archdiocese and presented in modern crisp terms) 
and one for organization. Each parish had its own committee; 
courses in theology for lay people were made available. The 
archbishop would settle for nothing less than saturation of the 
city, and he drove the committees, leading, suggesting, calling 
them to meetings, writing memoranda in his neat script. No 
modern means adaptable for preaching the gospel were ig 
nored; no area of human life and endeavor overlooked. 

There were words of caution. In June of 1957, speaking to 
the future preachers of the Mission, the archbishop said: "We 


will seek to be most respectful also toward those who profess 
atheism. We will employ no sarcasm; there will be no setting 
of one group against the other." The archbishop also warned 
the preachers that there were to be no overtones of politics in 
their preaching. But there was fear already abroad that the 
Mission was to be revolutionary. Many of the factories refused 
permission for the preachers to speak to their employees. 
From the other side, the Communist daily of Milan, noting the 
growing interest and excitement of the city as the day of the 
Mission approached, stated: "The preaching will set forth to 
the poor a vision of their heavenly country so that the rich will 
not be disturbed in the possession of their heaven on earth. In 
addition to discrimination between the rich and the poor, 
there is now added the distinction between the good poor who 
are Catholics, and the bad poor who are not. This preaching 
does not defend the daily bread of men, but the wealth of 
those of whom Christ said that it is easier for a camel to pass 
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter 
heaven. Doesn't this show that the fight can't always be made 
on the side of the big industrialists, even if they are the ones 
who some time ago besought the Pope to make Montini a 

Finally the day of this "extraordinary event," this "pro 
phetic moment" came on November 4. 1,288 preachers were 
mobilized, among them 2 cardinals, 24 archbishops and bish 
ops, 600 diocesan priests and 597 belonging to various re 
ligious orders, and 65 seminarians. From Bologna, accom 
panying their cardinal, Giacomo Lercaro, came the twenty 
"flying friars" and with them their trucks equipped with al 
tars, confessionals and loudspeakers. Led by Montini, preach 
ing, exhorting, ranging everywhere in the city, they reached 
out in the first week to thirty-one hospitals, clinics and homes, 
wherever there were sick and elderly. "Go forth and speak," 
said the archbishop to the preachers. "Your lips are opened. 


Preach the gospel to every living creature . . . open the 
churches! Open houses and courtyards, schools and barracks. 
. . . Open every doorway and, above all, open every heart 
to God!" 

The second week of the Mission was for the women, the 
third for the men, but all three weeks found the preachers go 
ing into factories, schools, cinemas, preaching on street cor 
ners, wherever the people were. "Abandon yourselves to the 
Mission with faith," the archbishop pleaded. To the youth of 
the city he said, "Before all others, may you come the most 
original and sincere understanding of what we are trying to 
do can be yours because it is youth which is the bearer of 
ideas. Come!" There were special programs for special voca 
tions for artists, lawyers, ballerinas, bartenders, bus-drivers, 
policemen, professors, radio and television workers, social 
workers, soldiers, students, taxi-drivers. Cardinal Siri of 
Genoa preached to the industrialists, Cardinal Lercaro to the 
workers and intellectuals. The Vatican Radio broadcast Mon- 
tinf s sermons every night; the Osservatore Romano ran daily 
reports on the Mission's programs; and the Pope promised a 
message for the Mission's close. 

For three weeks Milan was a city under siege, and the arch 
bishop was the field commander of the troops. In and out of 
department stores, into banks, the stock exchange, the inevita 
ble factories, visiting thirty churches a day, he exhorted and 
pleaded: "Come to our Mission and hear us. What are we 
talking about? The usual things? Yes, but do you really know 
them? The same old story? Yes, but better say, the eternal 
story. Useless matters? No, useful as bread and as air itself." 
And always there was the special pleading to the fallen away: 
**We are determined to place those estranged from us in the 
first position of our activity and our prayer. ... If there is a 
voice which can reach you, those of you who have left the 
Church, the first will be one which asks pardon of you. Yes, 


we of you. . . . When we see one who has fallen away there 
is much remorse. Why is this brother estranged from us? 
Because he has not been sufficiently loved." There was nothing 
in Montini's manner or words of what Merton calls "baroque 
glamoring of the mysteries of faith," no dramatic banalities, 
no false glitter of new apologetic techniques. 

Of such massive effort the question was asked: what are the 
results? The Mission, for all of its publicity, for all of its prep 
aration and agony of activity, was a seed, the word of God 
falling quietly into hearts. Its effects could be measured in a 
variety of ways, none especially revelatory, but its need, the 
insights it provided, the huge human dimensions of the effort, 
witnessed to the burden laid on the shoulders of all whose re 
sponsibility it is to preach the gospel. To call it a "display of 
fireworks, dazzling but short lived," 2 is to miss the point of its 
challenge to men's consciences, a challenge which is resolved 
interiorly and without publicity. 

"With regard to the ordination of priests, Holy Father, no 
care whatever is taken." Thus did the cardinalitial committee 
on reform report to Pope Paul m eight years before the Coun 
cil of Trent. "The most ignorant men," they said, "and sprung 
from the dregs of society, and themselves depraved, mere 
youths, are everywhere admitted to Holy Orders." As Philip 
Hughes has pointed out in his Church in Crisis, there is here 
revealed one of the great mysteries of medieval Catholicism, 
not that there were 'bad priests, but that the Church never 
faced up to the training and educating of the rank and file of 
parish clergy. It was a failure which the Council of Trent 
dealt with vigorously, but in Europe especially it helped feed 
an attitude of disdain and outright opposition to the diocesan 
clergy which has persisted in various forms to this day, and 
which in turn, joining other influences, has in some countries 

2 Tanneguy Quenetain in Realties, May 1962, p. 50. 


served to make of the parish priest a somewhat defensive, 
isolated figure, limited in influence and access to his flock, a 
situation which would be incomprehensible in an American 

Archbishop Montini had written: "The modern world has 
looked at the priest with eyes inflamed with hostile sarcasm 
and blinded by a utilitarian approach. The heir of the long- 
dead Middle Ages, the ally of selfish conservatism, the high 
priest of a silenced litany, the stranger in life: this is the 
priest. The clergy ... has felt the repelling aversion of so 
ciety in the midst of the new needs of the century. The clergy 
started its self-examination. . . ." 

The archbishop loved priests as he loved his own priest 
hood. As spiritual leader of the Milan archdiocese, he was as 
sisted by over two thousand priests; Milan is one of the few 
dioceses in Western Europe where spiritual vitality is evi 
denced by sufficient vocations. 3 He looked upon his priests as 
collaborators and sought from the beginning to establish a 
natural ease in his relations with them, abhorring the imper 
sonal and legalistic attitude which makes a relationship be 
tween priest and bishop rather one between priest and ecclesi 
astical authority. His was a spirit of brotherhood, a scorning of 
the merely juridical. 

Every year on Holy Thursday a letter was issued by the 
archbishop to his priests in order that he might, as Christ 
with his apostles, spend the day in a form of union with them. 
Each Thursday morning was reserved for visits from his 
priests; no appointment was necessary and they would leave 
his office with a hearty "Grazie, carfssimo" ringing in their 
ears, warmed by contact, renewed by his encouragement and 
understanding. The priest, he told them, must be an artist, a 
skilled worker, the indispensable physician, expert in the sub- 

3 Recruitment in Italy is a serious problem. In 1875, there were 
150,000 priests for 26 million people; in 1963, 83,000 for 60 million. 


tie and profound phenomena of the spirit, a man of learning, a 
man who can talk, a man of taste, of tact, of sensibility, of 
finesse and of force. 

He was not only the superior but the teacher of his priests, 
and the seminaries in which they were trained were his special 
concern. The major seminary at Venegono, in the foothills of 
the Alps near Lake Como, built in the monumental Milanese 
style, was a model of its kind. In Italy, the cultural currents of 
the nation are in the main areligious and anticlerical. Semi 
nary students, moreover, are often deprived of a vital cultural 
climate during their formation, which isolates them further 
from the life of their country. The major seminary of Milan, 
with a library of 190,000 volumes, under Montini subscribed 
to over 200 foreign and Italian publications. The four-year 
course in theology leads to a pontifical degree, and the three- 
year course preceding it in philosophy, literature, languages, 
science and mathematics obliges the students to take the state 
examinations each year, assuring them of training on a par 
with other professions. The theology students take a two-year 
course in sociology and an additional one in religious soci 
ology. Visiting specialists lecture on psychology, psychiatry, 
labor conditions, the films, etc. There is a one-week course 
for all priests on current problems, soon expected to be 
lengthened to a one-month residence at the seminary for peri 
odic mental retooling. The diocese receives a high proportion 
of delayed vocations, workers among them, with about ten 
each year coming directly from the university and others from 
technical schools. 

At the seminary of pastoral theology, established by Car 
dinal Schuster at the request of Pius XII in 1952, young priests 
take courses in religious sociology, catechetics, preaching and 
popular apologetics. There are lay professors who teach spe 
cial subjects; the classes are open and informal, with lectures 
always followed by discussion. On weekends the priests 


go back to their parishes for pastoral work. All of the dioceses 
which are suffragan to Milan were invited by Montini to use 
the facilities of this highly specialized and thoroughly modern 

The perspective on the formation of priests in the Milan 
archdiocese under Montini tended, without it being a con 
scious purpose, to dissipate much of the anticlericalism of the 
Italians. It has been pointed out that where there is anticleri 
calism there must first be clericalism: "This factor implies 
that those who make ecclesiastical decisions often tend to see 
the problems, tasks, risks and achievements of the Christian 
life solely from the perspective of the priest as an ecclesiastical 
official. It results in denying to God's creation its proper 
ontological value. This is what Pere Congar has called the 
inability to see the values involved in the secular as secular. 
This tendency is increased by the false extension of the mo 
nastic outlook . . . which sees the secular only as the object 
of ascetic exercises. . . . Clericalism . . . combines with 
formalism and authoritarianism to impose its own view upon 
the laity, who, trained under clerical influence, are passive, al 
though often demurring, in the face of such attitudes." 4 

Nietzsche wrote of priests "to darken the sky, to extinguish 
the sun, to make joy suspect and hope worthless, to lame the 
diligent hand these are things which they have always 
known excellently how to do." Christ called them the salt of 
the earth, and yet Bernanos calls hatred of the priest one of 
the most profound of human emotions and also one of the 
least understood. "There is no doubt," he says in Monsieur 
Ouine, "that it is as old as the human race itself." Montini's 
charge to his seminarians and priests was a positive one: to 
witness in the world while remaining men not of the world a 
sensitive charge. The priest who, in order to protect his priest- 
4 Thomas F. O'Dea, American Catholic Dilemma (New York: 
Sheed & Ward, 1958), p. 159. 


hood, would see the world simply as an enemy, as a contradic 
tion of all he stands for, would have little effect on it; he would 
generate repugnance and hostility instead of love. 'The priest 
who merely rejects or damns all that interests the world, 
whose attitude varies from hostility to indifference will, in 
turn, be rejected by the world, and yet the world expects 
more of the priest than that he should show some understand 
ing of it and be ready to meet it; it rejects those priests who 
can give it only what is human; it expects from them that other 
thing, for even his enemies see in the priest a higher power." 5 

"A true, a good, a human, a saintly priesthood," Arch 
bishop Montini said, "would save the world. The mission of 
the spirit cannot be contested. Even atheism has its own agita 
tors, ideally devoted to its cause. . , . The capacity to ex 
press the ineffable truths that surround us, to approach with 
out profanation the mystery that envelops the universe, to 
give a meaning to material things, an interior language to the 
spirit and a resounding voice to man's labor, to his sorrow, to 
Ms love this capacity is nothing but prayer, a prayer that 
must be true as light, a prayer that like light is poetry and re 
ality as well. All this is priesthood. And this capacity is still 
alive in the heart of the twentieth century." 

The training received in the seminaries of the Milan arch 
diocese gave the men educated there insights into men and 
their situation which made it increasingly possible for them to 
identify with their progressive archbishop, and the change in 
mood and fervor in Milan was observed and marveled at by 
the Milanese themselves. 6 

5 Josef Sellmain, The Priest in the World (London: Burns, Gates, 
1954), p. 219. 

6 A recent study by Joseph H. Fichter, S.J., "Anticlericalism in 
American Catholic Culture" (The Critic, Feb.-March 1963, p. 15) 
makes the interesting point: "Where both priests and people are liberal 
and progressive, the practice of the faith is high. Where the clergy are 


During his eight years in Milan, Archbishop Montini ad 
dressed eight pastoral letters to the faithful of his archdiocese, 
the first issued in 1956; its theme, Jesus Christ. There followed: 
The Religious Sense, Liturgical Education, The Meaning of 
Easter, The Christian Family, The Moral Sense, The Council 
(Vatican n) , and his final letter, The Christian and Temporal 
Welfare. They are distinguished not only by erudition, by re 
search and knowledge to which the numerous footnotes alone 
attest, but by the grasp the archbishop reveals of the problems 
and anxieties of his people, many living divided lives in a 
divided world. There is a vigorous affirmation of the perennial 
efficacy of the Christian gospel, tempered by sympathetic com 
prehension of the world as it is; an attempt to effect a fusion 
in his people's lives of their Christian faith and the good which 
is in the world. In these letters the archbishop sees the world, 
despite its perils, as the stage on which the drama of man's sal 
vation is mounted, and thus one which in its way is holy and full 
of mystery. A vigorous and complete faith expressed through 
vitality of worship is the answer held out to those who seek for 
peace and purposiveness in the century of anxiety. 

In addition to the pastoral letters there were the pastoral 
visitations made to every parish in the archdiocese. The arch 
bishop was intensely aware that it is in and through the parish 
that the people are instructed and sacramentalized, and that 

traditionalists and the people are progressive the practice of the faith is 
low. Where both clergy and people are conservative, religious practices 
are middling. . . . The most important conclusion ... is the fact 
that the liberal laity has a tendency to be pro-clergy, while the con 
servative laity tends to be anti-clergy. On every item that could be used 
in our study as an index of lay attitudes toward the clergy, the liberal 
laymen are more favorable to the priests than are conservative laymen. 
. . . The kinds of lay people who are constantly cited as being restless 
and disturbed about the position of the laity these are the best friends 
the priests and Church have." 


they in turn enrich society by the fervor and vigor of their 
Christian lives. He sought, therefore, to assure that every par 
ish was well administered by the clergy, and that the people 
were served in all their needs. In his eight years as archbishop, 
he was able to make a thorough visitation of 649 parishes out 
of a total of 822, an extraordinary and exhausting accomplish 
ment against the background of his other obligations and ac 
tivities. The visit to each parish was also the occasion for the 
administration of the sacrament of Confirmation, an oppor 
tunity to meet the people, to talk to the children and ask them 
questions about their faith. To one little boy who told him, in 
answer to his question, that God made us to know, love and 
serve Him, the archbishop said: "Very good indeed! You 
know more than a philosopher." 

The archbishop's attitude toward Catholic education was 
revealed in an address delivered in 1958 in Milan at the inter 
regional meeting of the Italian Federation of Church Schools. 
After greeting those present and encouraging them to do all 
in their power to perfect their pedagogical methods, he said 
in part: "We must remember above all else that the best de 
fense of our schools is their excellence. If the schools are 
sound and good, if they provide direction as well as education, 
if they give satisfaction to parents and to society, they are well 
defended, and to this defense ecclesiastical authority will give 
its approval and support. . . . We might be tempted to think 
that after so much effort and the construction of so many 
buildings, our schools have reached a final standard, and that 
we could say we have done everything in our power, that we 
have reached the peak of efficiency; consequently, that there is 
nothing more to be done. The reply to this is that, on the 
contrary, we must believe in the progressive improvement of 
our schools, not in a spirit of dissatisfaction with the schools 
of the past but because the improvement of our schools is 
part of a broader transformation in the life of the people. 


. . . The culture that is permeating even the least educated 
classes has stirred up consciences, opened up horizons, 
changed customs, created a new mentality, so that if our 
schools wish to keep abreast of the times, they must be willing 
to change. 

"Other countries have done much to improve their schools 
. . ." he continued. "We have far to go. The first point is this: 
we must put an end to poorly conducted schools which strug 
gle for existence, their aim not sound pedagogy but the keep 
ing alive of a community, or providing for the maintenance of 
other institutions of the Catholic world. Our schools in the 
hands of responsible and experienced religious congregations 
or ecclesiastical authorities must not be mediocre; they must 
strive for perfection in every detail. Our schools must know 
how to really educate, how to form strong souls, form, the con 
sciences of those for whom the Christian way of life is not a 
veneer and who lead a true interior life, who demonstrate the 
manner in which we must live today in order to give witness 
to Christ and to serve society by loving our neighbor. 

"Our schools are attended by children whose parents some 
times undo what the school does; we must not overlook this 
problem. ... I believe there should be a little more disci 
pline, more insistence on study, more submission on the part 
of pupils to authority. I take the liberty of suggesting that re 
lations between teacher and pupil be more personal. To be 
successful, education must be the result of a dialogue and of 
the meeting of one soul with another. We must do everything 
possible to provide, especially for our colleges, spiritual direc 
tors who are truly learned, truly reasonable, and able to instill 
dynamic and strong principles into the minds of the students. 
... A school which stresses only scholarship imparts in 
struction but leaves souls dissatisfied and indifferent. . . . 

"Having said this, we hope that our schools will be trans 
formed, improved, perfected, not in a spirit of rivalry but in a 


spirit of collaboration with other schools, including public or 
State schools. . . . These are my sentiments regarding the 
service you are rendering the Church, and I am not only ask 
ing you for greater sacrifices and great efforts, but wish to ex 
press my hope for your greater success and your greater re 

Archbishop Montini's affection for youth continued un- 
diminished during his years in Milan. An indication of his in 
terest was the founding in 1957 of the Overseas College at 
tached to the university, especially for Catholic students from 
underdeveloped countries. Indians, Africans, South Ameri 
cans, Syrians and Indonesians were among those granted the 
opportunity of a free education. The archbishop's interest was 
again personal, not merely administrative. Each year it was his 
custom to invite the students to his home for dinner on the 
feast of the Epiphany. He chose the day, he told them, as be 
ing the feast significant of the universality of the Church, and 
he said, "it could not be passed better than in the company of 
representatives of the peoples of the world." 

He knew of the students 5 nostalgia for home, and told them 
that as their father he wanted to be with them and if possible 
diminish somewhat their loneliness, at least for a day. Of each 
he would ask his name and country, and each was surprised 
at the archbishop's knowledge of their country, large or small 
the world of the Vatican had been an informative one! He 
spoke to them in Italian, in French, in English or in Spanish 
and laughed with them if he made a mistake. He gave each a 
book; the first year, two large volumes on Saint Paul, and in 
successive years books on Milan and other subjects. He posed 
uncomplainingly for snapshots, and it was his custom to give 
each foreign student cards of blessing signed for his family 
and for his bishop. 


On October 9, 1958, the Pope of Peace, Pius XH, died, 
wracked with illness and exhausted by years. Archbishop 
Montini flew to Rome to pray at his bier. The College of Car 
dinals which met to elect a successor to the dead Pope was a 
reduced one; there had been no consistory since 1953, and 
only 53 gathered in the Sistine Chapel to elect the one who 
would follow a Pontiff who had reigned for eighteen years. 
The archbishop of Milan, which is traditionally a see headed 
by a cardinal, was not among them. He had been an arch 
bishop for almost five years, easily the best known of Italy's 
prelates, his words and actions observed and quoted in the 
world press, mentioned as a possible successor to the man he 
had served for so many years but he was not a cardinal and 
it is from the College of Cardinals that the Popes are elected. 
For four hundred years they have been Italian; for the most 
part, leaders of the large Italian sees such as Florence, Pa 
lermo, Naples, Turin, Bologna and Venice. The conclave was 
brief; 7 the choice fell to the short, rotund patriarch of Venice, 
the benign, unknown seventy-eight-year Angelo Roncalli. 
And the most famous and short-lived reign in modern papal 
history began. 

The new Pope was not long in calling a secret consistory to 
replenish the depleted College which had elected him. On De 
cember 15, 1958, twenty-three prelates were named by him to 
receive the cardinal's hat the first name on the list was that 
of the archbishop of Milan. This time he would not refuse be 
cause, unlike the offer made in 1953, this was also a gesture of 
affection toward the archdiocese which he led. Milan exploded 
with pride and joy. It was no secret that the Milanese had, 
since Montini's appointment to be their archbishop, waited 
with increasingly ill-concealed impatience for Pius XII to 
recognize his one-time closest collaborator and their city. But 

7 It is said that Archbishop Montini received at least one vote in the 


Pius died without naming his "beloved son" to a seat in the 
senate of the Church. John XXEtt corrected the oversight 
with a graciousness and purposiveness which was not lost on 
those who weigh the winds of the Vatican. 

As apostolic delegate in Bulgaria and Turkey, later as nun 
cio in Paris, John XXm had often reported to Montini in the 
Secretariat of State. In the absence of a Cardinal Secretary of 
State, the then Sostituto and later Pro-Secretary was, together 
with Tardini, a superior of Roncalli's, and the affection and 
esteem which characterized their infrequent meetings as arch 
bishop of Milan and patriarch of Venice dated from those 
earlier days. 8 It had been thought that the new Pope would 
call Montini from Milan to be his Secretary of State, but it was 
the other half of the Montini-Tardini combination who was 
named. Montini was to stay in his pivotal position in Lom- 
bardy, working and preaching and traveling in ways which 
would have been severely limited had he been back in the 

Cardinal Montini was formally elevated to the cardinalate 
by Pope John XXm at a public consistory in Saint Peter's 
Basilica on December 18, 1958, the first in the long list of 
new cardinals which included his former colleague in the 
Secretariat of State, Monsignor Domenico Tardini, and the 
apostolic delegate to the United States, Archbishop Amleto 
Cicognani. Among the thirteen Italian and ten non-Italian 
cardinals elevated at this time, men from eight nations were 
represented; two were from the United States Archbishop 
Richard Gushing of Boston and Archbishop John O'Hara of 
Philadelphia. Cardinals Antonio Barbieri of Uruguay and 

8 An interesting incident is related in a French paper, describing 
Monsignor Roncallfs preparations, in 1944, for a flight back to Rome 
from Ankara in an old army plane. In answering the line on the ques 
tionnaire: "In case of accident, please notify " he wrote, not the 

name of a relative, but the words: "Monsignor Montini, Vatican." 


Jose Garibi y Rivera of Mexico were the first ever to be ap 
pointed from their countries. Pope John had described them 
all as having "in pontifical missions, at the head of dioceses or 
in the Roman Curia, spent themselves actively, zealously and 
prudently, and thus greatly contributed to the progress of the 
Christian religion." There were those among them who be 
cause of their own activities or the growing importance of the 
sees they governed had become prominent in recent times, 
and several of these were distinguished by their youth. Bishop 
Julius Doepner of Berlin (later of Munich) was at 45 the 
youngest cardinal; Bishop Franz Konig of Vienna, was only 53. 
Before returning to Milan, Cardinal Montini took posses 
sion of his titular church in Rome SS. Sylvester and Martin 
on the Esquiline Hill a church under the direction of the 
Carmelites and built in eighteenth-century style. There had 
been a church on the spot dedicated to the two saints ever 
since the time of Pope Sergius n (844-847), and even prior to 
this there was one on the site dedicated to Saint Martin of 
Tours in the time of Pope Symmachus (498-514). Charles 
Borromeo had SS. Sylvester and Martin as his titular church; 
it had also been the titular church of Cardinal Achilla Ratti 
and of Cardinal Udefonso Schuster. Cardinal Montini now 
truly belonged to Milan. 

7. Portrait of a Cardinal 

The new cardinal's pace continued unabated. His daily rou 
tine was an exhausting one. By six-thirty every morning he 
was up and on his way to chapel, through his private study 
where two photographs his mother's and his father's faced 
his desk together with three small pictures in Byzantine style. 
His Mass was served by his secretary, Don Macchi, and he 
in turn served the secretary's Mass. He finished matins, lauds, 
and prime of his daily office before breakfast, which he ate 
as he scanned all of the Milanese newspapers. The cardinal 
had a standing order at one of the newsstands near his resi 
dence for any extraordinary editions to be brought to him im 
mediately. On days when he had no pastoral visits planned, he 
received his vicar general promptly at nine-thirty, followed by 
the other audiences of the day. These would continue until 
one or two in the afternoon. 1 

1 "I could not ask of him (Ambrose) what I wished as I wished, for 
I was kept from any face to face conversation with him by the throng 
of men with their own troubles, whose infirmities he served. The very 
little time he was not with these he was refreshing either his body with 
necessary food or his mind with reading. . . . No one was forbidden 
to approach him. . . ." The Confessions of St. Augustin. Tr. by F. J. 
Sheed (New York: Sheed& Ward, 1943), pp. 107-8. 



The impression made by the cardinal on his visitors was 
memorable. At sixty-one the abrasive effects of his Vatican 
service and five years in Milan were visible. He showed the 
quiet patience and deep-etched tolerance of humanity and its 
importunities to be found in men who have given exhaustively 
of themselves and are in consequence devoid of any human 
posturing or pretense. For years he had lived the life of an 
other man, and no matter how lovingly and willingly he had 
served, the diminution of his own will and desires, thousands 
of times confected, had given "him a discipline and dignity of 
impressive dimensions. 

His gentleness was apparent. His hands, long and thin and 
curiously white, the veins high and bluely visible, rested deli 
cately on the black of his cassock or on the desk as he listened 
to his visitor; they did not, in a kind of episcopal self-con 
sciousness, play with the pectoral cross. His eyes, full of re 
serve and yet alive, meditatively studied the visitor as they 
chatted. For most Italians it is the hands that provide nuance 
to the words. In the cardinal it was the eyes bright, gray- 
green, changing color with his mood. His voice was low, with 
a gently grating undertone, perfectly modulated. 

His person could be called confusing. He had always been 
slim, but without angularity. There was an economy about his 
person, words and gestures which seemed a human articula 
tion of Mies van der Rohe's architectural principle: <e Less is 
more." His smile was not served by the straightness of his lips; 
it seemed somewhat wintry, but there were always the eyes to 
reveal the warmth and light of the man. 

After dinner, his main meal of the day, he would take a 
short nap. 2 He would finish his breviary in the chapel of his 
residence and promptly at four-thirty he was at his desk again. 

2 Later, after his election, he caused consternation at the Vatican 
court by saying that he had lost the Roman habit of siesta while in 


He preferred to write longhand, although on a table nearby 
was the white typewriter which had belonged to Pius XII. 
Supper was light, and was followed by a viewing of the news 
of the day on television. The rosary was recited together with 
the priests of his household, the cardinal preferring to say it 
with them as he walked up and down in the library or in the 
corridor lined with books. 

At his desk in the library, Cardinal Montini then continued 
to work far into the night. Occasionally he would relax before 
the television set if a good comedy was being shown; his taste 
in music centered on Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart. But 
usually in his hours of relaxation he preferred to read. If he 
could be said to have any hobbies they were reading and 
traveling. Books were a passion with him, 3 and his residence 
was a veritable arsenal of them. Every month the director of 
the Saint Paul Bookshop would receive a list of the latest 
books desired by the cardinal. "How many books there are!" 
he said one day when visiting the bookstore. "One would need 
a long life and much time to read all that one would want"; 
he said it almost wistfully. His reading was far ranging. Years 
earlier he had translated Maritain's Three Reformers into 
Italian, and he retained his admiration for the gentle French 
man whom he had come to know personally when the latter 
was French ambassador to the Vatican in the immediate post 
war years. Thomas Mann, Camus, Bernanos, Congar, De 
Lubac, Charles Journet, Louis Bouyer, Danielou these were 
his favorites. Jean Guitton of the French Academy had been 
long accustomed to sending Montini his books as they ap 
peared. When Guitton sent him The Church and the Gospel, 
the cardinal wrote thanking him and said he had stayed up all 
night reading it. 

He criticized writers who say that they need "to have ex- 

s He had brought 90 cases of books with him to Milan, with many 
American treatises on sociology and economics among them. 


perience of evil," and to a congress of Italian authors lie said: 
"The temptation for knowledge of evil has a strong attraction. 
There are those who say that it is necessary to have experience 
of evil to write about good. This is not true. Above all things, 
keep yourself pure and do not be afraid to put great theses in 
your writings." His taste in art was conservative: "Artists," he 
said, "seem to have abandoned the idea of producing works 
which are intelligible," and critics "use language that requires 
a special knowledge in order to understand the meaning. 
. . . We, the audience, make pathetic efforts to understand 
at least something. We believed that the kingdom of art was 
beatitude, whereas today it is pain and confusion." 

His usual hour for retiring was two in the morning. Four or 
five hours of sleep were enough for him, but his spareness of 
face and figure was due in large part to the rigor of the de 
manding life which he had lived ever since his ordination. The 
harsh Milan winter caused him much trouble with colds and 
influenza, but apart from these "annoyances," as he called 
them, his pace was that of a man many years his junior. It 
was now to quicken. 

In June of 1960 the cardinal arrived in New York for his 
second visit to the United States in nine years; it was to be a 
brief stay of seven days. He had accepted the invitation of 
Notre Dame University to be the recipient, together with 
President Eisenhower, Dr. Tom Dooley and others, of an hon 
orary degree at the annual commencement. The United States 
is not yet accustomed to European prelates of Montini's stat 
ure arriving for routine reasons, and the usual speculations 
were rife. The "real reason," it was adduced, lay in the need to 
reassure the American Church that a recent editorial in Os- 
servatore Romano affirming the Church's "right and duty" to 
instruct the faithful on how to vote did not apply to this coun 
try since Marxism was not an issue. However, since editorials 
do not shape the thinking or action of the American Church in 


such delicate areas, and since the cardinal loved to travel, his 
presence here could be sought and found simply in his desire 
to see more of a country for which he had on many occasions 
expressed his admiration and to which he had been specially 
invited on this occasion by the president of a great university. 

After celebrating an outdoor pontifical Mass for the gradu 
ates of Notre Dame and their guests on June 5th, Cardinal 
Montini spoke briefly and informally. "The university world 
is one of research and is, therefore, humble and attentive in 
the face of truth," he said. "The university world is one which 
teaches and, therefore, it serves and spreads the truth." Noting 
that it was Pentecost Sunday and that the message of Pentecost 
is the message of truth, the cardinal continued: "How fitting it 
would be on this day to study this fundamental aspect of our 
religion, and to clarify for ourselves the concept of the system 
of truth which Christianity creates in the world. Saint Augus 
tine, freshly converted by Saint Ambrose, asked as his first 
desire to eliminate from himself the worst infirmity of the 
mind, the lack of confidence in arriving at the truth." And he 
told them that "the university must understand that the divine 
design of truth is for us a vocation, a blessing, a duty." 

Later in the day, at the commencement exercises, the future 
Pope and the President of the United States 4 received their 
honorary doctor in law degrees from Notre Dame's president. 
The citation accompanying that of the cardinal saluted him 
as "a Prince of the Church who has brought the Christian 
vision to bear, with extraordinary practical success, on the 
harsh political and social realities of our time. Through his 

4 At tbis meeting with President Eisenhower, the cardinal offered 
him a statuette of an angel breaking chains. In writing later to thank 
hin^ the President said: "Dear Cardinal Montini, before leaving for 
the Far East I wish to thank you for the expressive statuette which you 
gave me at Notre Dame last Sunday. It can be a symbol of what I hope 
to realize on this trip and in my life. . . .** 


long and brilliant career in the Vatican Secretariat of State, 
fulfilling even its highest duties, he came to know those reali 
ties well throughout the world, and he directed his great talent 
and energy to the intellectuals and the workers to renew 
among them powerfully the moral and spiritual leadership of 
the Church. . . ." The citation also noted that, "When Pope 
Pius XII named him Archbishop of Milan, the industrial cen 
ter of Italy and a stronghold of Communism, he pledged 
himself to be 'the Archbishop of the workingman,' a pledge 
which he has fulfilled with inexhaustible apostolic vigor to the 
strengthening of the Christian world." 

New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washing 
ton were included in the cardinal's itinerary on this visit. He 
had arrived in New York, where he was met by Cardinal 
Spellman and the apostolic delegate to the United States, 
Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi. On his trip to American cities 
he was accompanied by Frank Folsom, chairman of the exec 
utive board of the board of directors of the Radio Corporation 
of America. Boston gave him, in the words of Time magazine, 
cc banners and hi-fied hymns," and while there he took part 
with Cardinal Gushing in a public ceremony at the Don Ori- 
one home for aged Italians. In Washington he was entertained 
at a dinner given in his honor by the apostolic delegate. 

From the United States the cardinal continued on to Sao 
Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The President of Brazil, 
Juscelino Kubitschek hailed him as "one of the major figures 
of our time." The cardinal visited the favelas of Rio, and talked 
to government and church officials about conditions in this 
country and the explosive continent of South America. His 
memory of this visit was to be a long one. 

From July 19 to August 10, 1962, the cardinal was again 
away from Milan, this time in Africa. His trip was brief, 
bringing him to Rhodesia, where he visited the two missions 
sponsored by his archdiocese, to South Africa, to Nigeria and 


to Ghana. He was the first cardinal from Europe to visit 
Africa and Ms trip gave him a perspective on the reality of 
Africa's problems and of its progress as its countries sought 
through their multiple political expressions to take their place 
in the world community of nations. It was the Church, strug 
gling and vital, which he had come to see, and his visits were 
largely to missions, churches, seminaries, convents. The 
names of the towns and cities were like poetry to him Kar- 
iba, Chirundu, Salisbury in Rhodesia; Johannesburg and 
Pretoria in South Africa; Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu in Nigeria; 
Accra and Tena in Ghana. Less poetic were the abject condi 
tions resulting from discrimination which he found in certain 
of the countries and the poverty and illiteracy which, happily, 
he found everywhere being challenged. Monsignor Macchi, 
his secretary, remembers driving through Nigeria on the way 
to Ibadan and passing signs which read: "One God alone is a 
majority/' "The greatest King is God," "Thank God today," 
"God is my way." And the cardinal would prod him: "Write 
it down! Write it down!" Everything was new everything 
told a story. 

The cardinal told his people on his return: "It was for me 
an extraordinary experience. Perhaps because it concerned 
the first visit of a European cardinal to their continent, per 
haps for other motives, the reception was magnificent. I do not 
speak of the Italians at Kariba and of the numerous whites 
whom I met during the trip, but of the native populations: 
Christians of deep faith, demonstrated on many occasions. 
We visited many mission stations in South Africa and West 
Central Africa and were most favorably impressed. Indeed, 
we must say that the edification received from the religious 
spirit demonstrated by the Catholic communities we visited 
did not spare us some pain as we contrasted their fervor with 
that of our own people, who, while devout and faithful, have 
lost something of that intensity of faith, that totality of pres- 


ence, that grace of manner, that beauty of song, that spon 
taneity of devotion which ... we admired in the celebration 
of the sacred ceremonies, in the holy Masses and Commun 
ions of the flourishing African churches. We saw how the faith 
there is lived seriously, being the very center of life. We saw 
how ardent and dignified is the expression of faith, worship, 
prayer, devotion among these new Christians. We saw how 
the youth especially throng to the missionary churches. We 
heard the singing, full voiced and moving, of the entire 
community, and we witnessed the celebration in Latin of our 
festive Masses." 

No other trip of his life had impressed Cardinal Montini as 
had this last one to Africa. He had visited the "locations" in 
Johannesburg and Pretoria, ridden in a canoe down the Niger 
with the sound of drums sending word of his coming ahead; 
he had heard the beauty of the Gregorian chant sung by Afri 
cans in their dirt-floor churches; he had seen vistas of natural 
beauty which overwhelmed him but above all he had seen 
people in love with their faith, and he was profoundly influ 
enced by it. On his return he went immediately to Pope John's 
summer residence at Castelgandolfo to make a two-hour re 

Cardinal Montini was never allowed to be simply the arch 
bishop of Milan. His words and actions for years had been 
public coin throughout the world. Many who hailed him as a 
liberal demanded that his every word and action fall resound 
ingly into a category of highly elastic outline. This they re 
fused to do. Conservatives tended to be critical and yet on 
certain positions he was found in their ranks. Without want 
ing to be, he had become a symbol, and symbols are ex 
pected to be univocal; they do not allow of the alternation of 
attitude and action which through the years confused the sym 
bol-makers. He defied categorization. He did so because he 


was the man he was, a dispassionate seeker after truth, and 
such a man is often of necessity ambivalent where the truth is 
concerned. Such ambivalence would find a natural repug 
nance in the doctrinaire, conservative or liberal. The doctri 
naire liberal, for example, will embrace an idea as an idea, 
and tend to ignore the context of its implementation. The ex 
istential liberal, however, will subject it to scrutiny in the 
same context, and this latter will be affected by multiple in 

Cardinal Montini had not been consecrated that he might 
become a symbol; he had been consecrated to be a pastor of 
souls. This gave a dimension to his actions in Milan which, 
while doing no violence to the naturally progressive inclina 
tion of his thought, provoked charges of inconsistency and 
indecisiveness. Pastoral responsibility involved the translating 
of ideas into actions not all of them successful and the 
context of translation modified at times his known positions. 
Thus the charge of inconsistency. A sensitive, complex 
thinker, he sought in translation to make the expression in 
action the right and complete one, since it was to affect his 
people. This demanded reflection, sometimes postponement, 
and always, time. Hence the charge of indecisiveness. 

The cardinaFs concern with social problems led some to as 
sume too readily that he was leftist politically. His identifica 
tion with the workers caused some disaffection among the in 
tellectuals, especially since he preached openly his belief that 
the story of Europe's large-scale apostasy was primarily a 
tragedy of the intellectuals those citizens of the eighteenth 
century who sought to create a self-sufficient society of their 
own and to reject God's revelation, their "wisdom" sifting 
down through the middle classes to the proletariat and pre 
paring the ground for the Socialist and Marxist faiths. Yet 
he was an intellectual himself; the historical or philosophical 
error was his only target. 


Politically the cardinal's sympathies seemed to be some 
what left of center; yet he could, in I960, warn against a 
flanking movement to the left of the Christian Democratic 
Party: a proposed alliance with Nenni's Socialists. He made 
the warning "with regret," and "considering the present state 
of affairs" it was the context of the times, the danger of a 
materialistic overwhelming of the principles of the party or 
of its left wing which concerned him. "We will not fail to give 
you other instructions should the circumstances change," he 
told his priests. 5 So too with the priest-worker movement 
with which his name had been associated in Rome in its be 
ginning years. The idea was considered valid and was en 
couraged by Trim in the late 40's when the more conservative 
of the Curia urged caution or refusal of permission for the ex 
periment. Yet years later in Milan he would voice his regrets 
and express caution with regard to such experiments through 
which spiritual considerations ran the danger of being en 
gulfed by temporal demands. Again the context must be con 
sidered. His speech in Rome, shortly before the opening of 
the Ecumenical Council, in which he "baptized" the Italian 
Risorgimento, which led to the creation of an Italian State 
independent of the Church, was called "flamingly liberal" 
and "stoutly anti-conservative." Rather, again it was an ob 
jective evaluation of a situation stripped of nostalgic attach 
ment and outmoded theology. 

No one was more devoted to the concept of the freedom of 
the press. But in the context of his responsibilities as arch- 

5 When, in February 1962, an "eminent lay person" of the Milan 
archdiocese anonymously deprecated the "new suffering" caused the 
Church by the affiance of the Center left-wing with the Socialists in 
forming a government, the archdiocesan daily, U Italia, sharply rebuked 
the critic, first for his anonymity and secondly for presuming to make 
his own reaction seem to be that of the Church which apparently it 
was not. 


bishop he became involved, in 1962, in a case which caused 
much comment. A bimonthly Milanese newspaper Adesso, 
founded by Father Primo Mazzolari, received a "private 
warning" from the Holy Office which asked it "to modify 
the spirit and orientation of the paper which blends so many 
professions of the Christian Faith with questionable ideas and 
attitudes." Cardinal Montini, in transmitting the monitum, 
added that since the paper had maintained the same attitude 
of ill-considered criticism of the hierarchy and regarding the 
authority of the laity, he himself felt obliged to agree, though 
with regret, with the reasons for such a warning. In addition 
he asked that the paper cease collaboration with two French 
reviews Esprit and Temoignage Chretien. In replying to the 
cardinal, the director of the paper explained that the purpose 
of the paper was to discuss problems among an adult laity 
using "those gifts of God, intelligence and liberty." 

Adesso decided to suspend publication with its issue of 
September 15, 1962, stating: "The paper cannot disavow the 
ideals of its origins and its sense of responsibility by an act of 
rebellion; 6 nor, on the other hand could it accept an uncon 
ditional obedience which would alter the reason for its exist 
ence as an interlocutor, and would have reduced it to an organ 
of the Curia, like so many others, whether armed or not with 
an imprimatur." The words of Cardinal Newman to W. G. Ward 
are fitting here: "There have always been differences of 
opinion in the Church and there always will be, and Chris 
tians would cease to have a spiritual and intellectual life at all 
if such disputes did not occur; for they are members of the 

ft "Things which are really useful end by getting done under God's 
will at the appointed time, and not at any other. If one seeks to do what 
is right in itself at the wrong time, one may become a heretic or a 
schismatic. . . . Inward brooding over insults is not patience, but 
memory with a glance at the future is prudence." Cardinal Newman, 
quoted by Sellmain, op. cit., p. 216. 


Church Militant. No human power can prevent them nor, if it 
attempted to do so, would it achieve anything but a wilderness 
which it could rechristen a 'peaceful landscape'! And when I 
reflect on the fact that no man, however hard he tried, could 
prevent these things, I do not feel any particular anxiety or 
disquiet about them. Man cannot do it and God does not de 
sire it" 

Again in 1962, Cardinal Montini drew world-wide atten 
tion to himself by his action in sending a telegram to the 
Spanish head of State asking clemency for a young student, 
Jorge Gonill Vails, and workers condemned, as the cardinal 
thought, to death by a Spanish court for an act of terrorism. 
His telegram to Generalissimo Franco read: "In name of 
Milanese Catholic students and my own, I ask your Excellency 
to show clemency students and workers condemned so that 
human lives may be saved and it made clear public order in 
Catholic country can be defended by methods differing from 
those which prevail in countries without faith and Christian 
tradition." The Spanish government replied coolly, indicating 
that the cardinal had been misinformed, that the offenders had 
been sentenced not to death but to prison. A spokesman for 
the Spanish Foreign Office said the procedure followed by the 
cardinal was "quite unusual in diplomacy." But this many- 
faceted man had not acted this time as a diplomat he had 
reacted as a priest, a pastor, a lover of youth and of workers. 
The diplomat was eclipsed and the man shone through. 

On the 25th of January, 1959, Pope John XXffl went to 
the Roman Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls to com 
memorate the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul and to 
celebrate a Mass for Christian unity. Following it, in the 
quiet of the monastery adjoining the basilica, the Pope an 
nounced to the eighteen cardinals of the Roman Curia present 
his intention of holding a Council of the Universal Church, 


"to proclaim the truth, bring Christians closer to the faith, 
and contribute at the same time to peace and prosperity on 
earth." He painted for them a picture of a world in convul 
sion, a world of divided allegiances, of confused morality, a 
world seeking its destiny in fear and suspicion a house di 
vided against itself. The Church should, for only the twenty- 
first time in its two-thousand-year history, hold a Council and 
in and through it confront the world of its people and of its 
century. Then, very simply, he said to the cardinals: "I would 
like to have your advice." They sat silent before him. Not a 
word was spoken. 

The Pope was later to call their silence "devout and im 
pressive." Yet he was disappointed by the lack of response: 
'Humanly We could have expected that the cardinals, after 
hearing Our allocution, might have crowded around to ex 
press approval and good wishes." That they had not, deeply 
wounded the Pope, but it did not swerve him from his in 
tention, which he had first expressed to his Secretary of State, 
Cardinal Tardini. It was the result, not of a carefully reasoned 
programme for his pontificate, but rather of a spontaneous 
idea 7 which came to him while talking one day to Tardini 
about the state of the world and the need of the Church to 
revitalize its witness. "A Council!" he had exclaimed 
and thus was born the most significant event of modern 
Christian history. 

If the reaction of certain of the Roman cardinals and of 
segments of the Curia was cautious and restrained, that of the 
cardinal archbishop of Milan was not. "An historic event of 
immense grandeur," he wrote when the projected Council 
was announced, ". . . an event important for peace, for truth, 
for the spirit; important today for tomorrow, important for 

7 "... an inspiration felt in the humility of Our Heart as a sudden, 
unexpected direct touch." (John XXIII, Letter of April 24, 1959 to the 
Venetian clergy.) 


the people and for human hearts; important for the whole 
Church, and for all humanity." The Osservatore Romano had 
buried the announcement of the Pope's call to council in the 
following day's edition, between two items of far less relevance, 
and the important Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit bimonthly with 
semi-official Vatican status, made no mention of the Council 
until four months later, on May 2. But between its announce 
ment and its convening, Cardinal Montini delivered three 
major addresses on the Council, and his Lenten pastoral for 
1962, Pensiamo al Concilio (Let Us Look at the Council), 
was the most significant of Italian episcopal statements on the 

The cardinal cleary was not to be among the "prophets of 
doom" who were uncomprehending of the Pope's desire to 
renew the Church. 8 Of the Council, the cardinal said in 
1960: "All feel themselves to be on the eve of an extraordi 
nary event . . . We who have the faith sense obscurely but 
strongly that such an event has a connection with the mysteri 
ous and universal designs of God for the destiny of man, and 
that it has a particular relationship with the individual con 
science of each one of us. ... Something of the prophetic 
is abroad in our time . . ." The cardinal went on to say that 
the manner in which the Council had been conceived was 

8 In Ms address at the solemn opening of Vatican Council n, Oc 
tober 11, 1962, Pope John said: "In the daily exercise of Our pastoral 
office we sometimes have to listen, much to Our regret, to voices of 
persons who, although burning with zeal, are not endowed with too 
much discretion or measure. In these modern tunes they can see noth 
ing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era in comparison 
with past eras is getting worse, and they behave as though they had 
learned nothing from history, which is nonetheless the teacher of Me. 
They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was 
a full triumph for the Christian idea and for proper religious liberty. 
We feel We must disagree with these prophets of doom who are always 
forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand." 


something of a surprise, especially for one who had some 
knowledge of how pontifical acts are conceived; most of 
them, he said, are born in the departments and offices of the 
Roman Curia, sometimes exclusively in the minds of those 
who immediately serve the head of the Church. 9 "But this 
announcement . . . has its origin in the unique and highly 
personal will of the Supreme Pontiff. He had no collaborator, 
no counselor. No one used pressure, no one promised results. 
And we are not here confronted by a despotic will . . . but 
rather by one which is naturally inclined to pastoral benevo 
lence, which seeks the good in others and for others, and 
which promotes it with spontaneous dedication. . . . With 
out recourse to the theory of a charismatically preternatural 
impulse, we can safely say . . . that he knew and felt him 
self to exercise, with the prophetic virtue of his office, that 
supreme power to which the assistance of the Holy Spirit is 
promised, as guarantee, by Christ." 

Cardinal Montini pointed out that there had been from 
time to time talk of another Council, "but no one dared to 
give such a possibility any real hope of foreseeable and con 
crete realization." He indicated that such thinking in part had 
its origin in a misinterpretation of what the definition of 
papal infallibility in the First Vatican Council had effected in 
the Church, namely the mistaken idea that the Bishop of 
Rome had absorbed and annulled the universal functions of 
the body of bishops. 10 The solemn dogmatic definition of the 
Assumption by Pius XII, preceding which he had consulted 

9 Cf. Xavier Rynne, Letters from Vatican City (New York: Farrar, 
Straus & Co., 1963), p. 25. 

10 The doctrine of the collegiality of the bishops was given little rec 
ognition by the preparatory theological commission in its schema on 
the Church prepared in 1961-62 under the chairmanship of Cardinal 
Ottaviani during the first session of the Council. Cardinal Montinfs 
sharpest intervention criticized the failure. 


the bishops of the world singly but not the entire body of 
bishops in collegiate assembly, seemed to lend some credence 
to such a distortion. But, the cardinal said, "The forecast 
that the epoch of Councils had come to an end was laid to 
rest by the spontaneous initiative of the Pope." The Council 
is, he continued, a solemn reunion of all the bishops of the 
world, one in which they participate by divine right. The 
authority of the Pope, convoking and confirming, is necessary 
for the Council to be truly ecumenical. But no matter what 
its importance to the Church, no Council is a permanent 
institution such as a parliament; it is not a synthesis of the 
whole Church; it does not transform the Church into a 
corporation represented and directed by a sovereign assembly 
to which the Pope himself is subject. "The Council is an epi 
sode in the life of the Church, a particular moment that calls 
forth the supreme authority of the Church; but it does not 
create that authority, it exercises it." 

The cardinal quickly synthesized the Councils through the 
ages. Of Trent he said, "The Council of Reform . . . saved 
the dogma and the discipline of the Church but signalized the 
fatal separation of whole Christian peoples now designated 
by the sad name of Protestant." The Vatican Council de 
fined the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope but Montini 
approvingly quoted the statement of "eminent theologians" 
that "the problem of the reconciliation of the divine rights of 
the episcopacy with the divine rights of the Pope unhappily 
has not yet been thoroughly discussed. A well balanced 
theology of the Church demands above all that this question 
be posed. . . . Will this be the work of the Second Vatican 
Council? It is a secret hidden in the future." To these words 
the cardinal added: 'Terhaps this secret will be disclosed in 
this much desired Vatican Council for which we are prepar 
ing. . . ." As the date of the Council approached, the car 
dinal stated: "We are thus at the threshold of the new Ecu- 


menical Council, and we are naturally tempted to predict 
what it will be like. It is difficult to say. . . . Important 
events are transpiring around us; we must be vigilant, we 
must seek to understand the designs of God, the movement of 
history, the inspirations of the Spirit, the hour of responsi 

In his addresses and pastoral letters, the cardinal returned 
more than once in those pre-Council days of great expecta 
tions with a quiet word of warning against overexpectation 
and too great a personalizing of the Council. "Each one of us 
has some imaginative concept of himself as a reformer of the 
Church, and naturally each hopes that the time has come for 
the realization of his dream. If the Council corresponds to 
the plans of God, it is difficult, no matter how fine our own 
plans, to see how it will respond to our exact desires." And 
again: "It is necessary to avoid fostering capricious desires 
which are arbitrary and strictly personal. It is not necessary 
that the Council correspond to our particular viewpoint; we 
ought rather enter into the general perspectives of the Coun 
cil. To believe that the Council will be able to repair human 
fragility and immediately bring about perfection in the 
Church and in the world is an ingenuous dream. To hope 
that it will remedy the many inconvenient practices and also 
the many theoretical imperfections in Catholic life which 
each one meets with in Ms own experience as a member or 
observer ... is to hope too much. . . . We must guard 
against thinking that the Council will decree radical and 
bewildering reforms in the present structure of the Church, 
such changes as to alter its appearance in time and to make it 
a wholly new institution. . . . The present juridical structure 
of the Church certainly has need of some renovation, but 
the Church cannot be substantially changed; [the present 
structure] is not the result of infidelity to the genuine mind 
of Christ ... it is rather the result of an historical experi- 


ence promoted by a rigorous intention of coherence and of 
fidelity to the spirit of the divine Founder. . . . 

"The Council . . . will give revised programs on the dis 
cipline and on the worship of the Church; it will give direc 
tives and precepts in many sectors needful of correction, of 
bringing up to date, and of development. . . . The Council 
will not be measured purely by its good results juridically and 
ritually considered. It must be a moment of the ineffable pres 
ence of the loving and merciful action of God in His Church." 

The cardinal did not hesitate to confront boldly the notion 
and the possibility of reform within the Church, and the need 
for it, a possibility and a need which many were denying in 
the "spotless Bride of Christ." "Reform has been through the 
centuries the renewing ferment of Catholic tradition." The 
cardinal pointed out that the Church can be seen under two 
aspects, divine and human, with the latter calling for periodic 
renewal. t6 Reform, therefore, is a perennial effort in the 
Church, which tends to bring the divine idea close to reality, 
and to put the human reality in touch with the divine." "The 
characteristic of this Council," the cardinal continued, "while 
aiming expressly at some notable reforms, derives from a 
desire to call forth the good rather than to flee from evil. 
Thanis to divine mercy, there are not in the Church today, 
errors, scandals, deviations, abuses. . . . Today the Church, 
always by the grace of God and the merit of so many good 
and holy Christians, is rather in a state of suffering and of 
weakness than in a state of scandal and decadence. The con 
dition and aspect of the Church shows it as more wounded 
than sinning, more needful than unfaithful. . . . The Coun 
cil will be, therefore, a Council of positive reforms, rather than 
of punitive ones; one of exhortation rather than of anath 

"The Church . . . intends through the forthcoming Coun 
cil to come in contact with the world. This is a great act of 


charity. The Church will not think only of herself; the Church 
will thinlc of all humanity. To this end she will seek to be 
sister and mother to men; she will seek to be poor, simple, 
humble and lovable in her language and manner . . . she 
will seek to make herself understood, and to give to the men 
of today the opportunity to hear her and to herself the oppor 
tunity to speak to men with ease in the language of today." 

Referring to Christians separated from the unity of the 
Catholic Church, the cardinal said of the Council: "It will 
very probably not be able to solve this question. Perhaps we 
have not yet merited such a miracle. But the Ecumenical 
Council can prepare for this hoped for solution. Under this 
aspect it will be a Council of preparation, a Council of desire." 

The cardinal, by his speeches and in his pastoral letters, 
sought to give the historical setting and the theological basis 
for the Council, in order that the generations who had lived 
their lives in a "council-less" period might know its signif 
icance by first understanding its context. His warning against 
vain and ephemeral hope seemed to be conditioned not by 
his personal lack of high expectations from the reforming 
Council, but rather by his wish to create a climate of objec 
tive, sober and prayerful appraisal. His words were addressed 
for the most part to the laity, and to them he held out hopes 
of a vigorous restatement and implementation from the Coun 
cil of their high vocation in and to the Church. The words 
with regard to separated Christians, which occur again and 
again in his pre-Council addresses, are words of affection 
and sensitive appreciation of their role in witnessing to Christ. 
At the same time he expresses the caution of one who knows 
the dimensions of the gulf separating Christian bodies and 
who will not allow his enthusiasm to mislead and defeat the 
very cause he would advance. 

In all his pre-Council speeches and writings, Cardinal 
Montinf s affection for the great Pope who had called the 


Council is marked, Ms sense of the Pope's prophetic destiny 
profound; "A great hope is kindled in the Church. Blessed 
is he who has made this light of hope shine forth!" The hun 
ger of the world for the words and prayers of the Council 
was not unknown to the cardinal; repeatedly in his life in 
Milan he had witnessed to the need of the Church to speak in 
twentieth-century terms to a twentieth-century world grown 
indifferent to a Church which appeared in a way to be a 
magnificent anachronism. In Council the cardinal would 
show no patience toward those who sought to thwart this 
move into the century of the bomb, the century of anxiety, 
the century of everyman. 

The cardinal's public role in the Council was to be a muted 
one. 11 He was named to the Central Commission, principal 
organ of preparation for the Council and to the technico- 
administrative commission as well as to the new and sensitive 
Secretariat of Extraordinary Affairs. He was one of a group 
of seven cardinals, four Italian, one American, one Western 
European, and one Central European, 12 commissioned to ex- 

11 It is reported that Cardinal Montini helped compose Pope John 
XXm's remarkable opening address to the Council on October 11, 

In the context of the cardinal's minor public contribution to the 
Council session, an article by the Abbe Rene Laurentin in Le Figaro 
(June 22-25) contains an interesting aside. The Abbe reports asking 
the cardinal's theologian during the first session, <5 Why doesn't your 
cardinal say more? We expect so much of him." The Abbe says he was 
later informed (not by the theologian in question) that the cardinal had 
been advised by John XXIEI to remain in the background during the 
first session. The Abbe adds: "La dernier e vue a long terme du Pape 
qui vient de nous quitter a ete d*ecarter les obstacles sur les voies dif- 
ficiles qu'il savait devoir etre ceUes de T election de son successeur" 

12 The Italians were Cardinals Cicognani, Shi, Confalioneri; the 
American, Cardinal Meyer of Chicago; the Western European, Car 
dinal Suenens of Malines-Brussels; the Central European, Cardinal 
Doepfner of Munich. 


amine new questions raised or submitted by the Fathers of 
the Council, apart from those already presented and inte 
grated in the various schema. It was noted that the average 
age of the cardinals composing this Secretariat was a rela 
tively young sixty-six, and that the presence of Montini, 
Meyer, Doepfner and Suenens gave it a majority of progres 
sive complexion. 

Cardinal Montini went often to Rome in the days before 
the opening of the Council, flying in one hour from Milan 
and returning the same day when possible. During the days 
that he was in Rome for the Council he alone of all the 
Fathers of the Council was the guest of Pope John in the 
Vatican. An apartment in the Archpriesf s Palace was placed 
at his disposal and it was he whose prerogative it was, as the 
first cardinal named by Pope John, to celebrate on Novem 
ber 4, in the presence of the whole Council, the Mass for the 
fourth anniversary of the Pope's coronation. He offered the 
Mass in the Ambrosian rite of Milan, rarely if ever used be 
fore in the Basilica of Saint Peter. November 4th was also 
the feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, a predecessor in the 
see of Milan, who had vigorously reformed the Church of 
Milan after the Council of Trent. In Ms sermon that day the 
Pope recalled Borromeo's role at the Tridentine Council in 
pacifying the disputing Fathers and his intervention which 
brought it to a successful close. No such role had yet been 
cast at this Council, although the differences which would 
give vigorous life to its sessions were already evident. 13 

Cardinal Montini spoke briefly in the opening days of the 
Council on the schema of the liturgy, and his voice was not 

13 Jean Guitton sees the two tendencies, Progressive/ Conservative, 
in the Council not as opposite but as parallel columns which end in a 
magnificent Gothic arch. The Council cannot be conceived as a battle 
field; the ''triumph** of one tendency over the other he sees as incon 
ceivable and meaningless. 


to be heard publicly again until December 5, when the schema 
on the Church was debated. The archbishop of Malines- 
Brussels, Cardinal Suenens, had spoken the previous day, 
criticizing the schema as presented to the Council, asking its 
revision and requesting a consideration of the Church in dia 
logue not only with itself but with the world, and a confronta 
tion of the questions which the latter dialogue would raise. On 
December 5th, the cardinal of Milan rose to speak and he 
gave wholehearted support to Cardinal Suenens* suggestion. 
The Church, he said, is nothing by itself; the Church is 
Christ Himself, using us as His instruments to bring salva 
tion to mankind. He called on the Fathers of the Council to 
restate the "mind and will of Christ" by defining the collegial- 
ity of the episcopate and by giving a truly ecumenical per 
spective to the Church. The less we insist on the rights of the 
Church, he said, the more chance we have of being heard. 
Thus, because of its intransigent and incomplete character, 
he urged that the schema on the Church be completely re 

His intervention, the more dramatic for its singularity, was 
made against the background of his letter published in the Mi 
lan diocesan daily, L' Italia. In it he criticized the members of 
the Council who refused to follow its ecumenical and aggiorna- 
mento character, but more strikingly he blamed the Council's 
failure to make greater progress on those members of Curia 
who had prevented cooperation between the various commis 
sions during the preparatory phase. 14 

The cardinal's position before and during the Council was 
one of enthusiastic endorsement of the idea of the Council, 
of the Pope's insistence that it be a Council in dialogue with 
the world, that it be one which would open windows in the 
Church. Each week while the Council was in session he 
wrote a letter to the people of his archdiocese to keep them in- 

14 Rynne, op. tit., p. 227. 


formed of the Council's progress. His pastoral concern was 
that they be involved through him who spoke in their name. 
He told them of the Council's slowness, of its uncertainty at 
times; of the excessive number of speakers who slowed its 
pace (necessary, he added, in an assembly of free men freely 
speaking) . He was critical of some of the phases of its organ 
ization but enthusiastic about the climate of freedom which it 
was daily creating. 15 

That he "himself was not so much to the forefront of the 
Council's public shapers and speakers as his personal and 
pastoral reputation would seem to warrant was less an indica 
tion of his reluctance to be committed than it was of a desire 
to allow men of similar thinking but of less international 
reputation to come forth and speak in other than Italian 
voices. His concern that the Church appear and actually be 
international was rewarded by the emergence of Dutch, Bel 
gian, French, German, and American prelates as movers of 
the Church's majority will that aggiornamento be the corner 
stone of the Council's deliberations. When it was necessary to 
speak, the Cardinal spoke; for the rest he was content to be 
a Father of the Council together with the other largely anony 
mous 2,600 bishops. 

The first session closed on December 8. Pope John, whose 
health had given reason for serious preoccupation, was present 
to close the session and to send the bishops back to their 
dioceses with the exhortation to continue the Council's work 
before the convening of the second session on September 8, 
1963. He also issued a directive which established a new 
coordinating commission to guide the Council's working com 
missions during its recess. Its function was to reduce the 70 
schemata of the first session to 17, insuring their brevity and 
irenic tone. Headed by the Cardinal Secretary of State it was 
to continue through the second session and effect a speeding 

15 Letter of November 4. 


up and more efficient handling of the work of the Council. 
The establishment of the steering committee was seen as an 
implementation of Cardinal MontinFs desire, expressed long 
before the Council convened, for procedures on a more effi 
cient basis. He had said of the material proposed for Council 
consideration: "It is a question of an immense body of mate 
rial, excellent but heterogeneous and unequal, which would 
have evoked a courageous reduction and classification if one 
authority, one that was not merely extrinsic and disciplinary, 
had dominated the logical and organic preparation of these 
magnificent volumes [of schemata! and if one central archi 
tectural idea had polarized this considerable work." 

The commissions of the Council would have nine months 
of hard work before them. Cardinal Montini was to be a part 
of that silent and hidden work as in Milan he prepared for 
the Christmas which would be his last as archbishop of that 
historic see. 

8. Sede Vacante 

The death of a Pope has always provided a moment of drama 
in history. From the death of Peter on an upended cross, 
through the long series of Popes who were saints and Popes 
who were not, the world has watched down the centuries with 
varying attitudes of detachment and involvement as pontifi 
cates drew to an end and the men who made them prepared 
to meet the God whose servants they had been. 

Most of the twenty-two Popes who into the fourteenth cen 
tury bore the name of John reigned briefly and unspectacu- 
larly. The man who, in 1958, at the age of seventy-eight suc 
ceeded to the papal throne as John XXIII, the patriarch of 
Venice, Angelo Roncalli, seemed destined therefore by name 
and by years to a pontificate which would be short and deco 
rous, unmarked by innovation, strong leadership or impact on 
the world. But by a goodness which quickly became legend 
ary, by a boldness which affronted the few and delighted the 
many, he threw open his arms to all men and revolutionized a 
Church grown remote from the world it was meant to savor. 
He was a man in a hurry, impatient of anathemas, of cant and 
gloom, with a mind and spirit as young as his body was old, 



and the world, with unprecedented affection, wished for him 
long length of days as, at the age of eighty-two, he opened the 
Second Vatican Council, a symbol of the Second Spring which 
Ms pontificate had become to the Church. 

In November of 1962, during the Council session, the Pope 
fell ill. He rallied and was able, seemingly with his customary 
vigor, to close the first session on December 8th. But there 
were signs that all was not well as the Pope entered 1963. 
Audiences were canceled and it was apparent everything was 
being done to conserve his strength. Increasingly he made 
reference to "sister death." On May 21st it was announced 
that President Kennedy had changed his plans for a 1964 visit 
to the Pope and would arrive in June. On May 22nd a general 
audience was canceled, and the Vatican, cautious while the 
world speculated, announced that the Pope was to take nine 
days of complete rest before Pentecost 

Then on May 26th came word of the Pope's serious illness, 
a malignancy, and the world's vigil began. Informed by Ms 
Secretary of State of the prayers being said for him, the Pope, 
according to the Osservatore Romano, replied: "As the whole 
world prays for the sick Pope, it is quite natural that an inten 
tion be given to this supplication; if God desires the sacrifice 
of the Pope's life, may it serve to bring down copious favors 
on the Ecumenical Council, on the holy Church, and on hu 
manity which aspires to peace. If, on the other hand, it pleases 
God to prolong the Pontiff's service, may this bring a sanctifi- 
cation of the soul of the Pope, and of all those who work with 
him and suffer for the expansion of the Kingdom of Our 
Lord. . . ." Sounding more his own were the words he had 
spoken on his eighty-first birthday: "Any day is a good day 
to be born and a good day to die. I always think of that other 
shore and submit to the will of the Lord, whether he decides 
to keep me here or call me to Him." To his doctor he said: 


*T)o not worry too much about me, because my bags are 
packed and I am ready to leave, in fact very ready." 

On Friday, May 31st, hope was abandoned for the Pope, 
whose strong heart continued to beat against the assault of 
his infection. He remained lucid, although in a state of ex 
treme weakness. At one juncture he said: "On the point of 
leaving you I wish to thank the College of Cardinals; I am as 
a victim on the altar, a victim for the Church, for the Council 
and for peace." That night the Pope entered upon the agony 
which was to convulse his body for four days. He lapsed in 
and out of comas, wracked with a pain no sedative could kill. 
"My Jesus," he called out during one lucid interval, "free me 
now, I cannot endure it. Take me with you." 

Thousands waited through the day and night in Saint Pe 
ter's square, while millions throughout the world watched and 
prayed with them. The Pope who had hailed the Council he 
had convened as a "New Pentecost" for the Church, lived 
through Pentecost Sunday and into Monday, the 3rd of June. 
At 7:45, as a Mass celebrated for him on the steps of St. Pe 
ter's basilica ended, the Holy Father, invoking the Blessed 
Virgin with the words, "Mater mea . . ." my mother died. 
He had been Pope for less than five years, the shortest reign in 
modern history since the twenty-month pontificate of Pius VHI, 
from 1828 to 1830. 

When word reached Cardinal Montini in Milan, on May 
31st, that the Pope's life was despaired of, he made plans to 
leave immediately for Rome the Pope had asked for him. 
The plane on which he traveled that night was, by coincidence, 
the same carrying the three brothers and sister of the Holy 
Father, flying for the first time, to the bedside of their brother. 
Together they all drove from Rome's Fiumicino Airport to the 
Vatican. The cardinal spent only a brief time with Pope John 
who, during one of his rare moments of consciousness, recog- 


nized and spoke to him affectionately, his right hand grasping 
the cardinal's. It was the last time they were to meet. 

Cardinal Montini returned to Milan on Saturday night, 
June 1st, in time to celebrate a midnight Mass for the dying 
Pope in the presence of 20,000 in the rainswept Vigorelli 
stadium. He spoke to the silent, prayerful crowd of how the 
Pope's word of peace had gone around the world as never 
before, and he stressed the need of an accurate understanding 
of the word: "Peace is not something which just happens; it 
is created, constructed." And he added, "We wish to make our 
own the Pope's great message, to make it an inspiration and 
program for our life." 

On the next day, Pentecost Sunday, the cardinal, preaching 
in his cathedral said: "Blessed is the Pope who has given to us 
and to the world the evangelical example of the Good Shep 
herd. . . . Blessed is this Pope who has shown us that good 
ness is not weakness or slackness, not an equivocal irenism, 
that it entails no renunciation of the great rights of truth or 
duties of authority, but is rather the master virtue of him who 
represents Christ on earth. Blessed is the Pope who has made 
us see again that the authority of the Church is not an ambi 
tion to dominate, not aloofness from the community of the 
faithful, not a remote and custom-ridden paternalism. Blessed 
is this Pope who has enabled us to enjoy an hour of father 
hood and spiritual companionship who has taught the world 
that humanity has need of nothing so much as love." 

As he weighed the unprecedented outpouring of grief which 
convulsed the world on the day of the Pope's death, the car 
dinal reflected on the reason for a sorrow which the death of 
no Pope in his memory had generated. "Why do they mourn 
his death everywhere in the world? What marvel of spiritual 
convergence produces this thing without precedent in history? 
Everyone of us has felt the attraction of that personality, has 


grasped that the sympathy that enveloped him was not a de 
lusion nor a fashionable whim; it was a secret revealing it 
self a mystery which absorbed us, the mystery of two words 
which, united in magic power, dazzled our eyes the words, 
truth and charity." Others in the Church were to voice more 
conventional and qualified tributes, but the cardinal's had 
nothing of the facile or automatic about it, and his words were 
to speed around a world stunned by the loss of such a man as 
John and fearful for a future without him. 

With the death of Pope John, the centuries-old machinery 
of the interregnum began to function. Ten minutes after the 
death of the Pope, the 84-year-old Cardinal Camerlengo of 
the Church, bishop of Palestrina and prefect of the Congre 
gation of the Sacraments, Benedetto Aloisi Masella, bearing 
the staff of office, had taken possession of the pontifical palace. 
Entering the room where tie Pope's body lay, the cardinal 
bent close to the face of the Pontiff in a formal "recognition" 
of death which is twelve centuries old. He then pronounced 
the traditional formula: "The Pope is truly dead." He took 
custody of the gold Fisherman's Ring used by the Pope in 
signing documents and of his personal seal. 1 He ordered the 
death knell to be sounded from the great bells of Saint Peter's, 
and the Pope's body removed to an adjoining room, there to 
lie in state. Later the papal apartments would be locked and 
sealed. From that moment on until the election of the new 
Pope, the provisory government of the Church rested in the 
hands of the College of Cardinals whose authority was repre 
sented by Cardinal Masella. 

1 Later it was broken and the pieces buried with Pope John's body. 
The Camerlengo's delegate, Monsignor Sargolini, was entrusted with 
the obligation of obtaining all seals from the Apostolic Datary and 
Apostolic Chancery, 


The office of Cardinal Camerlengo, while much reduced in 
power through the centuries is still today, during the sede va- 
cante, the highest authority in the Church. All other high Vati 
can officials lose their offices the Cardinal Secretary of State, 
for example. Cardinal Masella had come to the office by way 
of election by the cardinals resident in Rome when Pius XII 
died in 1958. Pope Pius had allowed this office also to remain 
vacant during the latter years of his pontificate, and the hasty 
election of Cardinal Masella by his peers following the death 
of Pius had been confirmed by John upon his accession. While 
his government of the Church during the interregnum is lim 
ited to affairs of ordinary administration, the Camerlengo may, 
in cases of grave urgency, having consulted the College of Car 
dinals and acting in its name, take decisions of great impor 
tance. He signs the administrative acts of the Church and 
represents the Vatican in its relations with the outside world. 
Cardinal Masella was assisted in his office by the heads of the 
three orders of cardinals: Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, repre 
senting the cardinal bishops; Santiago Luis Cardinal Copello, 
representing the cardinal priests; and Alfredo Cardinal Ottavi- 
ani representing the cardinal deacons. 2 Their chief business 
was to organize the Conclave and insure its secrecy. 

2 Cardinal bishops are the bishops of the sees near Rome. However, 
they are occupied with the affairs of the Curia, the central adminis 
trative arm of the Church, entrusting to others the ordinary jurisdiction 
and administration of these suburban sees. 

Cardinal deacons also devote full time to Vatican administrative 
posts. This order was formerly made up of priests, not bishops, but 
Pope John XXEI ruled in 1962 that all cardinals would thenceforth 
be given episcopal consecration. Cardinal deacons hold titular bishop 
rics, mostly of sees that have disappeared but whose memory is pre 
served in name. 

Most numerous are the Cardinal priests cardinals who rule sees 
removed from Rome. They are assigned titular pastorates of Roman 
churches but do not operate as pastors there. 


It was Cardinal Masella's decision, in accord with the 
wishes of Pope John, that his funeral be private; that the body 
of the Pope not lie in state in the Sistine Chapel but be borne 
from the apostolic palace through Saint Peter's square into 
the basilica, there to rest for two days before being buried in 
a provisory tomb in Saint Peter's while a permanent tomb, 
also according to his wish, was prepared near his cathedral of 
Saint John Lateran. On the day after his death the body of 
Pope John, dressed in white alb, golden mitre, crimson and 
gold gloves, chasuble, buskins and slippers, was carried on a 
litter through a silent crowd of 50,000 jammed into Saint 
Peter's square, to the mournful cadences of the De Profundis. 
Inside the basilica the body rested on a high catafalque before 
the main altar, crowned by the great Bernini baldacchino, 
while twenty-one candles burned around the bier on almost 
the exact spot from which Pope John had addressed the Coun 
cil nine months previously. 

For two days the people came to pay their last respects. 
More than one million passed through the doors of Saint Pe 
ter's for a last glimpse of the man who had been always, as 
Domenach had said, supremely a Pope of tradition. The grief 
of the world was genuine and profound. In the United States 
an unprecedented tribute welled up across the country. In 
Cuba, Fidel Castro proclaimed a three-day period of mourn 
ing; the United Nations lowered its flag to half-mast in his 
honor; and the archbishop of Canterbury, for the first time 
since the Reformation, did the same with his personal em 
blem. Nikita Khrushchev hailed the Pope as one who had 
'Von the respect of peace-loving peoples" and the Chinese 
Government sneered that all that remained now for the Rus 
sian premier to do was have his people baptized. But for the 
most part it was a loss which transcended all political and 
religious differences and found the world confessing its poorer 
state in the loss of one so good. 


He had been, Cardinal Montini said, "an incomparable 
Pope." But now he was dead and the Church's nine days of 
mourning for him, the novendiali, began in Rome, while car 
dinals across the world prepared to go to Rome for the con 
clave which would elect his successor. The final three days of 
the novendiali are the most solemn, with the Masses cele 
brated each day by a different cardinal. The five absolutions 
are given by the celebrant and four assisting cardinals at the 
high-raised catafalque, ablaze with ninety-six candles, topped 
by a tri-regnum crown, twenty-five feet above the floor. 

The final Mass of mourning was said on the morning of 
June 17th in the presence of seventy-five cardinals, members 
of European royal families, the diplomatic corps, and the rep 
resentatives of eighty-four governments sent as special dele 
gations. Present from the United States was the vice president, 
Lyndon B. Johnson, with a three-member party. Two Russian 
Orthodox churchmen, Bishop Vladimir Kotliarov and Arch- 
priest Vitaly Borovoy, were the first of their Church to attend 
the funeral of a Pope since the great Schism of 1054. Follow 
ing the mass and benedictions given by Cardinal Tisserant, 
clad in sumptuous embroidered vestments of gold and black 
velvet, and Cardinals Spellman, Wyszynski, Giobbe, and Lie- 
nart, the final word of eulogy was spoken by Monsignor 
Giuseppe Del Ton, Secretary of Latin Letters. In a Latin 
which was classically elegant, he spoke of the Pope's good 
ness and humility, and of the "almost incredible" number of 
great enterprises he had achieved during his brief reign. "He 
truly was the master of peace, the announcer of peace, the 
angel of peace." 

For the first time in the two weeks since the Pope's death, 
Cardinal Montini was in Rome and present for this final mass 
of obsequy. Although the cardinals already an Rome, their 
number increasing daily, had been meeting each day in gen 
eral congregation to decide the affairs of the Church, Car- 


dinal Montini had remained in Milan, intent upon Ms work 
there. On Friday, June 7th, he had preached in his cathedral, 
and had spoken out strongly for a continuation of Pope John's 
program by his successor in the Papacy. He said, "John has 
shown us some paths which it will be wise to follow. Can we 
turn away from these paths so masterfully traced? It seems to 
me we cannot." He returned to a theme which he had stressed 
in his pre-Council discourses, and which he had defended 
vigorously in one of his public appearances before the Coun 
cil: the role of bishops in the government of the Church. He 
called for spiritual and practical conditions to insure the har 
monious collaboration of the episcopate in that sphere. 

It was a theme which he had developed at length and pub 
licly before without drawing invidious attention, but in the 
nervous days of the interregnum, with the world abuzz with 
rumor and speculation as to Pope John's successor, the words 
were seized upon by a press more imprudent than informed 
as a declaration of candidature by the cardinal. The New York 
Herald Tribune headlined the story: "Montini Felt to Offer 
Self as Next Pope." The article, by Sanche de Gramont, regu 
lar Vatican correspondent of the paper, said: "The Cardinal's 
words were interpreted in Vatican circles as a pledge that if 
he is elected Pope by the Sacred College at the conclave start 
ing June 19, he will pursue the chief aims of Pope John." 
Also: "Vatican officials said that Cardinal Montini, a cautious 
man who spoke only twice during the Council, was appar 
ently stating his position now with unexpected candor in prep 
aration for the conclave." 

Such imputations, suggesting a kind of electoral manifesto 
by the cardinal, were clearly unjustified and impudent in the 
light of his many earlier affirmations of the need of the Coun 
cil to clarify a confusion regarding the role of the bishops 
in the Church resulting from the definition of the dogma of 
papal infallibility by the First Vatican Council in 1870. In his 


pastoral letter for 1962, he had said: "The treatise on the na 
ture and function of the episcopacy in harmony with the Ro 
man Papacy is one which could result in a new and harmoni 
ous affirmation of the unity, not only juridical but living, of 
the Church around the chair of Saint Peter, and give a start, 
without any vindicative intention, to a greater and more or 
ganic internationalization of the central government of the 
Church." There was no reversal here of positions previously 
held, no affirmations of new positions impetuously taken. 

The cardinal's last days in Milan had been marked by the 
same calm ordering of his schedule which characterized his 
regular program. His personal appointment book was full of 
notations in his own hand: June 19: consecration of the 
church, Cure of Ars; June 22: general assembly of the com 
mittee for new churches; June 28: ordination of priests in the 
Cathedral. The evening before his departure for Rome, Mon- 
signor Milani, vice-president of the committee for new 
churches, conferred with the cardinal who that day had signed 
a decree of erection of a new parish. "There are seven more 
decrees to be signed, Your Eminence. What should we do if 
you do not return?" "No, no," the cardinal replied, "when I 
return from the conclave we'll come back to this." To Don 
Virginio Rovera, advocate general of his curia, who pressed 
the cardinal for a document he wanted before his departure 
for Rome, Cardinal Montini replied: Periculum non est in 
mora" there is no danger in delay. And two days previously 
at the seminary, in speaking to some priests, he said: "Perhaps 
the time is ripe for a non-Italian Pope." 

Before leaving for Rome, he traveled one more time to 
Bovezzo to visit his brother Francesco, ailing with a heart 
condition, and to spend a few hours with him and with his 
family in a setting of warmth and of intimacy which only a 
brother or sister's family can give to a priest. His brother 
Ludovico was also present. His departure from Milan was, 


characteristically, by plane, and as he entered the craft with 
his secretary, Monsignor Macchi, 3 he turned, and with a wave 
and a blessing, bade good-by to the city which had first wel 
comed him eight years earlier. 

He arrived at the Rome airport late in the day, and drove 
immediately to Castelgandolfo where he was the guest of Dr. 
Emilio Bonomelli, director of the papal villa. The next morn 
ing he moved to the novitiate of the Sisters of the Child Mary 
in Via della Camilluccia, Rome. He had slept poorly at Castel 
gandolfo, and on the morning of the last Mass of repose for 
Pope John, as he sat in Saint Peter's, splendid in his mourning 
robes of purple wool, his face looked strained and somewhat 
severe. The eyes of many among the few thousand present 
were drawn often to the thin, erect figure of the cardinal, for 
already Rome was alive with rumor and speculation. Pope 
John was dead, this was the day of final farewell, and tie 
report was abroad that in his diary the Holy Father had re 
vealed his hope that the College of Cardinals would choose 
the brilliant archbishop of Milan as his successor. During 
John's lifetime, his lips, like those of the cardinals, had been 
sealed against discussing or influencing the choice of his suc 
cessor, but now the signs of his predilection were recalled. It 
remained to be seen how the senate of the Church would re 

The press of the world, in reflecting on the reign of Pope 
John and in speculating on the role of his successor, articu 
lated the gratitude the world felt to John and the hopes it 

3 Monsignor Macchi, who would remain as private secretary to 
Pope Paul, became secretary to the then Archbishop Montini shortly 
after his appointment to the Lombard see, in 1954. Father Macchi 
was at the time professor in the seminary of Saint Peter, Martyr, hav 
ing been ordained in 1946, and having received his doctorate at the 
Catholic University of Milan, with a thesis entitled Bernanos and the 
Problem of Evil. He joined the archbishop in Rome and accompanied 
him on his entrance into Milan. 


nourished regarding the man who would follow TITTTJ in the 
Papacy. There was agreement that the Church under John 
had come to realize that the Church and the world have the 
same frontiers. The question posed was: Would there be an 
expansion of this concept or would there be a gradual and 
imperceptible contraction? The Polish Communist Review 
Argumenty inquired, "Has the pontificate of John XXm been 
a moment of caprice in history or is it something lasting in the 
policy of the Church?" The New York Herald Tribune, in its 
editorial for June 5, 1963, said: "It remains to be seen what 
the attitude of the new Pope will be in what direction he will 
throw the great weight of his office. If that should be toward 
the goals for which John XXm strove, even on his deathbed, 
the result might well be the unleashing of the most powerful 
spiritual forces which have moved this world in many cen 
turies. For when the accretions of centuries of polemics over 
the differing approaches to Christianity are stripped away, 
fundamental unities emerge; when the differences among 
Christian churches diminish, their great world mission be 
comes clearer, its influence stronger. The spirit [of the Coun 
cil] itself cannot die. Its workings may be checked, or they 
may be accelerated by the choice made by the College of 
Cardinals. . . . That is why the Conclave will be watched, 
as seldom before in recent history. For the world will be wait 
ing to know if the legacy of John XXm is to be perfected in 
the months to come." 

"The Pope," said the New York Times, "seemed to have 
caught at the flood one of those 'tides in the affairs of men.' It 
will surely flow onward to make our tormented age a little 
less divided." Walter Lippman spoke of the "miracle of Pope 
John": "The modernizing movement [begun by Pope John] 
can perhaps be arrested but it cannot for long be turned back. 
For what Pope John began will have very big consequences, 
and the history of our world will be different because he lived." 


Barbara Ward in the London Observer (June 9, 1963) 
asked pointedly: Can the influence of Pope John endure? The 
answer, she indicated, was not an easy one. "At least a part 
of his astonishing impact on his fellowmen sprang from some 
thing potentially evanescent the irresistible attraction of his 
personality." "All who came to him," she said ". . . left him 
with a sense of having encountered a profound paternal af 
fection which was theirs not for this or for that distinction or 
achievement but simply because in each of them he saw a 
child of God. . . . Paternal affection is the precise opposite 
of superficial sentiment. It is rooted, it is reliable and resistant, 
it lies beyond all play of circumstance. . . . But now the man 
who projected this image of fatherhood in the single human 
family is dead. Will the work which sprang from his moving 
dedication to unity survive his loss? His greatest effort of spir 
itual reconciliation lay ... in the calling of the Ecumenical 
Council. . . . Yet the Council is now, by the fact of his 
death, automatically disbanded with its labours no more than 
begun. One cannot doubt that it will be recalled by his suc 
cessor. But will the earlier lan survive?" 

Miss Ward spoke of the question mark hanging over Pope 
John's work of secular reconciliation. His policy of detente 
with Communism was, she said, no mere tactical desire to 
work out a modus vivendi: "John XXH[ avoided all over- 
simple distinctions between a wholly virtuous West and a 
monstrous conspiracy on the other side." And she added 
words which seemed almost as much a description of the 
cardinal archbishop of Milan as of Pope John: "He grew up 
in one of the first Italian dioceses to react seriously to the chal 
lenge of modern industrialism. His whole thinking was influ 
enced by the liberal tendency in French social Catholicism. 
He could see that man can lose his way, not only by the false 
doctrines of Communism but equally by the West's besetting 


temptation that of seeking a Veil-being based exclusively on 
the comforts of life.' " 

"There is no denying that the Pope's approach aroused 
profound misgivings in some Catholic ecclesiastical and politi 
cal circles/ 3 she continued. "Conservative Italians accused 
him of making Communism respectable and thereby adding 
a million votes to the Communists in Italy's recent general 
elections (April 18, 1963). Right-wing Germans stonily at 
tacked him for 'selling out' German interest to the Poles and 
Russians. A few American leaders clearly preferred the old 
black and white simplicities of the cold war. Mr Khrushchev's 
condolences and flags at half-mast in Havana hardly reas 
sured them." 

Miss Ward ended by pointing out that there might possibly 
be in the conclave and the politique resulting from it, a coun 
ter-attack in favor of more cautious policies in the political 
area. "But/ 5 she concluded, "one can be far more confident 
over the work of religious conciliation. The Vatican Council 
may not have completed much work but it demonstrated 
clearly the extent and vitality of the Church's modernising 
tendencies. The Bishops, assembled from the ends of the 
earth, took a more liberal view of their opportunities than the 
Rome-bound Curia. They were not only encouraged by the 
Pope. They were encouraged by one another. Thus he helped 
to articulate and dramatise the growing readiness for more 
liberal policies. But he did not create it, and it will therefore 
survive him." 

No pontificate wins the complete approval of all in a church 
as diverse and catholic in its thinking and emphasis as it is in 
its diffusion throughout the world. The lines of difference had 
been most clearly seen because most sharply drawn in the 
first session of Vatican Council n, with its world-wide repre 
sentation of bishops from every continent and land. In sub- 


scription to one faith in its entirety and integrity the Church 
was one in Council. In its willingness to examine the state 
ment of that faith, to open windows, to build bridges, to bring 
the Church "up to date," there was division along the conven 
tionally expressed conservative/progressive lines. The progres 
sive thinking of the Council, in line with the exhortation of 
Pope John to "open windows" had predominated in the first 
session, and a sharp distinction between the majority thinking 
of the Council and that of the Curia became apparent. It was 
to be highlighted again by an extraordinary oration delivered 
in Saint Peter's basilica a bare forty-eight hours after the final 
Mass celebrated for the soul of Pope John. 

On the morning of the day of conclave, Wednesday, June 
19, eighty cardinals, still in their robes of mourning, made 
their solemn entrance into Saint Peter's for the celebration of 
the Mass of the Holy Spirit, invoking divine guidance on the 
voting which they would begin the next day. Only two of 
their total number were missing: the 89-year-old and seriously 
in cardinal archbishop of Quito, Ecuador, Carlos Maria de La 
Torre, and the cardinal primate of Hungary, the 71 -year-old 
archbishop of Esztergom, Josef Mindszenty, living in sanc 
tuary since the Hungarian uprising of 1956 in the American 
embassy in Budapest. The cardinals, through their Dean, 
Eugene Tisserant, had akeady sent Cardinal Mindszenty a 
telegram in Latin which read: "According to the norms of 
the Constitution, 'Vacantis apostolicae sedis,' I have the 
honor to inform you that the conclave of cardinals for the elec 
tion of the Supreme Pontiff in succession to the deeply loved 
John XXin of venerable memory, will take place in the Vati 
can Apostolic Palace on the 19th of June of this year at five 
P.M. The Sacred College of Cardinals in these days feels it 
self profoundly united to you in fraternal memory and in 
fervent prayer to the Holy Spirit." 

The Mass of the Holy Spirit reminds the cardinals in the 


words of its gospel that "the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom 
the Father will send in my Name, he will teach you all things 
and bring to your mind whatsoever I have said to you." And 
the petition of the Mass, contained in its Collect asks: "O 
God, Who on this day didst instruct the hearts of the faithful 
by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us, by the same Spirit, to 
relish what is right and ever to rejoice in His consolation . . ." 

When the Mass was finished, the cardinals sat on their ban 
quettes and awaited a discourse which turned out to be one of 
singular outline. They composed the senate of the Church, 
they alone would enter the conclave, one of the number pres 
ent would emerge as Supreme Pontiff and now they awaited 
a prelate of the Roman Curia, the Secretary of Briefs to 
Princes, to deliver the traditional allocution, "De eligendo 
Pontifice" On choosing a Pontiff. This privilege is one of the 
rare ones which outlives the death of the Pope, since with his 
death all major offices cease to be held, and Monsignor Amleto 
Tondini, Secretary of Briefs to Princes under John XXin, 
was, in effect, no longer Secretary. For all the sonority of his 
title, the Secretary is an interpreter, a translator, an executor, 
and it is more for the elegance of his Latin than the high dig 
nity of his office that he is chosen to address the cardinals 
on this significant day. Although there have been previous ex 
ceptions in history, the oration is usually a generic exhortation 
to the cardinals to remember the responsibility which is theirs 
before their conscience, the Church and the world, and a 
laudatory recollection of the deceased Pope. 

Monsignor Tondini's praise of Pope John was cautious and 
generic: "the good Pope," "the Pontiff of charity and of 
peace." He spoke of the "heavy" inheritance left to his success- 
sor, and outlined, more than once, a pessimistic picture of the 
contemporary world which, it appeared to some of his listen 
ers, seemed to counterpoise, as illuminated and prudent, the 
pessimism of the speaker against the incautious and childlike 


optimism of him who as Pontiff had embraced the world of 
his century. Pope John had given much importance to natural 
values in establishing dialogue with the world: the orator in 
sisted on the importance of the supernatural order and said 
that the successor of Pope John "ought to endeavor, with 
total effort, to reestablish the supernatural virtues in the life 
of Christians." He should guide the bark of Peter to the ad 
vantage of all, but especially of Catholics. For the speaker, 
"the days in which we live are days when the relations [be 
tween peoples] are based not on a moral order but depend 
on a politique of suspicion and of fear" in which "the air of 
true peace is not breathed." Governments do what they can, 
but often with damage to the souls of men "because they con 
sider him [man] a machine from which to draw temporal ad 
vantages for himself and principally for the State." Only the 
Pope can resolve international problems "placing himself 
above any suspicion of partiality." 

As for the Council, surely it would be continued. "The 
Catholics of every continent pray that the great undertaking 
will be carried through to fulfillment. But it will be for the 
Pope, whom you, eminent Fathers, will choose from your 
midst, to establish the suitable time for its renewal. And to 
him especially will it belong to determine and judge if the ques 
tions, the studies and particularly the spiritual dispositions 
have yet attained that maturity which will bring about the 
results awaited by the soundest part of humanity: that is to 
say, the light of sure direction in the midst of the dominant 
confusion of ideas, and an auspice of sure peace in the midst 
of mutual distrust and the antagonisms of people." 

It seemed to many present like a bristling speech; it had 
little of the pacific spirit of John. "It was a manifesto of the 
most reactionary current of the Curia and attempted to trace 
a new program for the Pope," said one commentator. The 
speaker seemed unaware of the irresistible thrust of human- 


ity toward truth and salvation, to which end the Church exists 
that it might evangelize, bless and consecrate such a yearning. 
Pope John had not set it in motion but he had recognized 
it, accepted it and blessed it with a special insight and patience, 
with a rare sense of the times and the men of the times. It 
seemed unlikely that the words of Monsignor Tondini would 
reverse this movement of the Church and the boldness of a 
charismatic insight which had given her new life under Pope 
John. The Rome correspondent of the London Tablet com 
mented drily, "Whatever may be said of the sermons preached 
at them, Masses of the Holy Ghost are clearly good things to 
have." * 

Now it was the College of Cardinals alone, the senate of 
the Church, which would decide the question of succession. 
With eighty present in Rome, gathered from thirty-one na 
tions, their entrance into conclave at five o'clock on Wednes 
day afternoon would make the conclave the largest since the 
election of the Pope became the exclusive prerogative of the 
cardinals in the twelfth century. Through them the opinions 
and hopes, the particular problems and the contrasting per 
spectives of the Church diffused throughout the world would 
enter the Sistine Chapel and be resolved. The symbol of their 
reconciled differences and of their converging wills would rise 
from their midst, and as Pope sit enthroned under the Last 
Judgment of Michelangelo to receive the prostration of their 
persons and the acceptance of their fealty. The Church would 
have a Pope and her life, constrained and suspended without 
a head, would resume again. 

Pope John XXTTT was elected in 1958 by a diminished col 
lege of 53 cardinals, dwindled under Pius XIE from its tradi 
tional 70, established by Sixtus V. The new Pope shortly an 
nounced that he was raising the limit from 70 to 75, but that 
he would not, however, be bound by this figure, and would 

4 June 29, 1963, p. 703. 


shortly issue norms regarding the number in the College. 
These were never presented, but in successive consistories 
Pope John raised the number to 79, 85, 86 and 87. In all he 
created 52 cardinals. The largest number, 23, was created on 
December 15, 1958. In 1959, 8 were created, followed in 
1960 by 7, in 1961 by 4 and in 1962 by 10. 5 

The electors of his successor for the first time in history 
would all be bishops. In the long history of the College many 
had been elevated to the cardinalate as laymen and had thus 
remained through their lifetime, eligible for the Papacy, as is 
indeed any baptized male Catholic, but since 1378, when Ur 
ban VI was elected, not chosen. 6 But until the time of John 
XXm those constituting the order of "cardinal deacons" were 
still priests. 7 On April 15, 1962, Pope John had issued a 
motu proprio ("Cum gravissima") which ordained that in the 
future every new cardinal not already a bishop would immedi 
ately receive episcopal consecration. And four days later, on 
Holy Thursday, he personally consecrated the twelve cardinals 

5 Pope John loved to give allegorical significance to their number. 
The first 23 corresponded to the 23 Popes, himself included, who had 
chosen the name John. The next 8 symbolized the number of the 
beatitudes, the following 7 the number of infused virtues, three 
theological and four cardinal, and the four symbolized the four-sided 
wheel of Ezechiel. The last 10 created by John received no symbolical 

6 The last layman to be named a cardinal was Giacomo Antonelli, 
secretary of state to Pius IX until he died in 1876. He considered it 
"outrageous" that the American John McCloskey, archbishop of New 
York, be raised to the cardinalate hi 1875, his opposition being not to 
McCloskey but to the idea that the Church universal had anything to 
learn from the presence in the College of Cardinals of a representa 
tive of the Church in North America. Cf. E. E. Y. Hales, The Catholic 
Church in the Modern World (New York: Doubleday & Co., Image 
Books, 1961), p. 150. 

7 Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office, was a priest 
and remained so until his consecration as bishop by John XXIII. 


of the college who were still priests in his cathedral of Saint 
John Lateran. 

Pope John had also contributed to the internationalization 
of the College. Until the conclave which elected Pius XII, the 
Italian cardinals had for centuries been in absolute majority. 
In the early nineteenth century, Napoleon had sought by 
threats, and in vain, to insure the presence in the College of at 
least 30 French cardinals, and in 1846 there were only 8 non- 
Italians, but their number had increased to 25 by 1878. At 
the death of Benedict XV there were still only 29, and by 
the time Pope Pius XI died in 1939 their number had dropped 
to 26, as opposed to 39 Italians. It was Pius XII who deci 
sively increased the number of non-Italians in the Sacred Col 
lege, and when he died there were 17 Italian cardinals and 
36 non-Italians (the Italian Cardinal Constantini and the 
American Cardinal Mooney of Detroit had died before en 
tering conclave). The non-Italians counted 19 Europeans, 
13 Americans (North and South), 3 Asiatics and 1 Austra 

In the College preparing to elect a successor to John, the 
Italian representation had become little more than a third of 
the total, 29 as against 52 non-Italians. 46 had been created 
by Pope John, 26 had been named by Pope Pius XII, and 8 by 
Pius XI. But the number of 52 non-Italians did not tell the 
complete story of the broad representation which John had 
given to the College. The numerical representation of the 
various continents had been further modified. Europe had 
seen its number increased from 19 to 27; North America 
from 4 to 7; South America from 9 to 12; and Asia had re 
ceived its first Japanese and first Philippine cardinals. Africa, 
too, had its first African Negro representative in the tall, 
striking Cardinal Rugambwa of Tanganyika. 

There seemed little possibility, however, that a non-Italian 
would be elected. The consensus in the Church was that the 


time had not yet arrived, yet the emergence in Vatican Coun 
cil n of distinguished non-Italian Europeans indicated that 
the time might not be too distant when a four-hundred-and- 
forty-year tradition would be reversed. 8 

Observers were quick to point out that in bestowing red 
hats Pope John had been generous rather than politic, as far 
as insuring the success of the program of his pontificate was 
concerned. He had named to the cardinalate many whom he 
had known through his years of service to the Church, seem 
ingly without regard to whether the recipients shared his 
outlook or his desire to make the Church more open to the 
world. He had staffed the Curia with men in their seventies 
and even eighties, contemporaries of himself, many with 
broad experience of the world through long years of diplo 
matic service abroad, but marked too by what many consid 
ered excessive prudence, caution and an undifferentiated de 
sire to maintain things as they had always been, startled and 
resentful of change. During the Council it had been noted 
that of the 36 cardinals who had shown themselves by their in 
terventions to belong to the "conservative" wing of the church, 
21 had been named by Pope John. 

8 215 Popes (including John XXDI) were Italian. France had given 
17, Germany 6, Spain 3, England, Portugal, the Netherlands and 
Switzerland 1 each. The last non-Italian was the Dutch Adrian VI 

Cardinal Konig, interviewed after the conclave which elected Paul 
VI, said with regard to the possibility that a non-Italian might have 
been elected to succeed John XXHI: "Yes, some Italian cardinals told 
me before the conclave that they were in favor of a non-Italian being 
elected Pope this time. I think the time was not yet ripe. But it may 
come about that hi the foreseeable future a non-Italian will be elected 
to the Chair of Peter. The cardinal-electors were concerned above 
all to find a suitable man: nationality probably played hardly any 
part in this. It was a question of trying to find the best man. I think 
they succeeded in doing this." 


But there was a counterbalancing factor. Pope John's "con 
servative" appointments were for the most part less dominant 
men than his "progressive" ones. The leaders of the conserva 
tives Cardinals Ottaviani, Sir! and Ruffini were creations 
of Pius XII. Those more generally conceded to be of a pro 
gressive tendency Cardinals Montini, Bea, Konig, Suenens, 
Alfrink, Gushing, Landazuri, Ricketts and Ritter had been 
elevated by Pope John. 

Two further influences, traceable to Pope John's reign, 
were considerable factors in giving a particular personality 
to the College. The first was that Pope John's pontificate had 
made it much more difficult for the cardinals to elect an "in 
ward-looking" successor. "If in 1958 an unadventurous Italian 
cardinal had been chosen, had taken the name of Pius XH[ 
and had pursued a policy of keeping the Church to itself, of 
guarding the citadel but attempting few forays into the out 
side world, no one would have thought very much about it. 
It would have seemed a continuation of the natural order of 
things. But for such a choice to have been taken in 1963 
would have been as an overt repudiation of everything that 
Pope John stood for." 9 It was almost certain that the majority 
would not be thinking about a change of direction, even 
though many would opt for a change of emphasis and pace. 

Secondly, Vatican Council IE had given the cardinals an 
opportunity to know one another, not merely personally, but 
in their thinking and perspective on the Church. Fifty of 
them had risen to speak during the first session, and the two 
months of almost daily contact made of the Council a kind of 
ante-chamber to the conclave they were about to enter* They 
would not enter it strangers to one another, and in this lay 
one of the greatest hopes of the Church which awaited a new 
Pontiff that the voice and spirit not only of John but of the 

9 Roy Jenkins, "Inside the Conclave," The Observer, London, July 
21, 1963, p. 17. 


Church as revealed through its bishops at the Council would 
find expression within the Sistine Chapel through the eighty 
men who by their votes would shape the Church for years to 

Thus it appeared that the central issue at the conclave 
would be aperturismo an openness toward new trends in 
Catholic thinking, toward ecumenical relations with other 
Christians, toward new political approaches to Communism 
a continuation, in short, of Pope John's programs. Those 
alarmed at the nature and scope of those programs and de 
sirous of muting what they considered their excessive theo 
logical and political stridency, were considered, in pre-conclave 
speculation, to number about 36, and were called the con 
servative wing. The progressives, enthusiastic supporters of 
Pope John in his confrontation with the world and with other 
religious bodies, but individually possessing particular reser 
vation especially in the political sphere, were considered to 
have some 32 cardinals in their ranks. The remaining 14, 
mainly members of the Curia whose thinking was little known, 
constituted the moderate group. 

The College possessed some towering figures. It was 
headed by the Dean, the stern, bearded Orientalist and former 
cavalry officer, the 75-year-old member of the French Acad 
emy, Cardinal Tisserant. There was the Armenian-born pre 
fect of Propaganda, also bearded, Cardinal Agagianian, 67, 
who reportedly had received several votes in the 1958 con 
clave. The stocky and loquacious Cardinal Urbani, 63, inter 
ested in social questions and something of a scholar, former 
bishop of Verona, had been appointed by John XXIII to suc 
ceed him as patriarch of Venice. Prominent was the 80-year- 
old archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Feltin, who on his arrival 
in Rome for the conclave had asked prayers for himself and 
his fellow cardinals that from their number would come "a 


new pastor under whose guidance the work of renewal, of 
peace and of unity, already initiated" would be realized. 

There was the former apostolic delegate to the United 
States and Secretary of State to Pope John, the 80-year-old 
Cardinal Cicognani. Cardinal Roberti, 73, was little known 
but a brilliant canonist and lifelong curialist. Cardinal Konig 
of Vienna, 57, was a suave diplomat and expert in Eastern 
religions and emissary of Pope John behind the Iron Curtain. 
Cardinal Gushing of Boston, 67, noted for his prodigality in 
charity, was a missionary manque for whom Pope John had 
felt an intuitive affection. 10 The tall, graceful archbishop of 
Bombay, Cardinal Gracias, 62, kept in his chancery the sad 
dest file in the world: the number who die of hunger each week 
in the area in his charge. 

There was Cardinal Bea, German and Jesuit, 82, bent and 
smiling, a biblical scholar, confessor to Pope Pius XII and 
the right arm of Pope John in his work of union of Christians, 
The handsome 75-year-old Cardinal Ruffini of Palermo was 
also a biblical scholar, strongly traditionalist, alarmed at new 
trends. The archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Wyszynski, 61, 
archf oe of the Communists in his country had spent five years 
in prison. A major figure was the almost blind, personally 
charming, dogmatically intransigent prefect of the Holy Office, 
Cardinal Ottaviani, 72. The dark and brilliant archbishop of 
Genoa, Cardinal Siri, 57, in his funeral oration for Pope John 
had said: fiC The moment is not yet at hand to speak of his work, 
also because this work has need of the perspective of history 
to properly judge it"; his diocesan newspaper, // Nuovo Cit- 
tadino, had said: "No pontificate can repeat itself," and also, 
that if every pontificate was not new "it would betray its f e- 

10 The New York Herald Tribune did not exclude the possibility of 
an American succeeding to the papal throne in the person of the arch 
bishop of Boston. 


cundity and the expectation of incarnation and the demands 
for redemption of a world always in the process of becoming." 

The 71 -year-old Cardinal Lercaro was the short, gentle 
archbishop of Bologna, interested in social reform, with or 
phans living in his residence, a liturgist and dramatic foe of 
the Communists; he, too, while praising the goodness and 
holiness of the deceased Pope had carefully refrained from 
saying anything about his pontificate. Cardinal Frings of Co 
logne, vigorous at 76, on Ms arrival in Rome had given voice 
to the generally known intention of the German cardinals to 
elect a successor to Pope John who would follow in his foot 
steps. In this the Germans joined with the position which the 
French cardinals and those of The Netherlands and of Belgium 
were openly maintaining. 

Outstanding, too, was the patriarch of Antioch in Syria, 
Cardinal Tappouni, 83, who had one time been imprisoned 
by fanatic guerillas in the Middle East; the scholarly and pro 
gressive Cardinal Suenens of Malines-Brussels, who had dis 
tinguished himself at the Council and had been invited by the 
United States Committee for the United Nations to explain the 
content of the encyclical Pacem in terris before the General 
Assembly his name had been on the list of hostages prepared 
by the SS in Belgium during the war: Cardinal Alfrink, 62, 
the archbishop of Utrecht in The Netherlands, whose pastoral 
letter on the Council, translated into Italian, was withdrawn 
from the Italian bookstores for unexplained reasons. The dy 
namic archbishop of New York, Cardinal Spellman, 74, would 
be called one of the "grand electors" of the conclave. And the 
intense and dedicated archbishop of Montreal, Cardinal Leger, 
59, was one of its leading and progressive figures. 11 

11 Cardinal Leger had complained during the pre-Council days 
that where he had suggested reforms "no one listened to me. I spoke 
in a desert I advanced many bold proposals, but I don't know if they 
will ever be approved." He had gone to the Pope and had been con- 


It remained for Cardinal Ciriaci, a Roman, now 77, an 
astute diplomat, nuncio for years in Portugal, to advance, ac 
cording to reports, the most startling suggestion during the 
pre-conclave days. He proposed that the cardinals elect a com 
mittee from their number to act as a permanent board which 
would advise the Pope in areas not strictly spiritual. It pointed 
up the disaffection felt by many in the overtures which Pope 
John had made to international Communism, and had over 
tones of vast complexity and interest. 

There was distinction marking each of these men and of 
the others who together with them composed the College. 
Many were unwell, two almost blind, one (Cardinal Morono) 
91 -years-old; divergent in background and age and thinking, 
some presiding over the richest cities of the world, others with 
personal vows of poverty; some living in palaces, others in re 
ligious houses, some ambitious, some proud all bishops with 
a purpose, which they would swear to fulfill according to their 
lights and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to give to the 
Church the man whom God would have to choose. 

The pre-conclave assaying of papal possibilities swirled 
around the names of at least six cardinals. Most often men 
tioned was the cardinal archbishop of Milan. Favored by 
John, progressive, but a proud traditionalist as well, brilliant, 
a pastor and diplomat, a master of organization, only 66, eight 
years at the head of the most complex archdiocese in Italy, 
a linguist, knowledgeable about Rome and the Curia, widely 
traveled, uniquely a man of his time all of his attributes 
were exposed, dissected, and reassembled as the mania of 
speculation on the eve of conclave reached its climax. 

Counterpoised to Cardinal Montini's candidacy as the pro- 
soled. The Pope told the cardinal: 'The march of the Church today 
is irreversible. The Council will not end." The cardinal had also said: 
'The Church has become conciliar; the bishops will meet in Rome 
more often." 


gressive he was considered to be was that of Cardinal Lercaro, 
presented as a moderate-progressive. The kindest of men, his 
social thinking in the reign of Pius XII had seemed extreme 
to many, but with the advent of John it had appeared in con 
trast to be somewhat to the right. His conception of social 
work had been criticized as unsophisticated, his personal reac 
tions to problems as emotional. Yet he had made an immedi 
ate impression on the Council when he had pleaded for a 
church "poor in the image of its Master." He had won wide 
applause from some for his statement that he would never 
shake hands with Premier Khrushchev, and it was maintained 
that the conservatives in conclave would swing their votes to 
him should their own first and conservative candidate seem to 
have no chance of success. That candidate, it was said, was the 
handsome young archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Siri, but it 
was felt that his age and his negative attitude toward much of 
Pope John's policy would militate against his election. The 
early votes which would be cast for Cardinals Suenens and 
Konig would represent, it was said, a transalpine warning 
that the election of Italians to the Papacy would not continue 

The "compromise" candidates were several: there was the 
spry and young-looking secretary of the Consistorial Congre 
gation, the 73-year-old Cardinal Confalonieri. For years he 
had served as private secretary to Pius XI, and his grasp of 
curial life was profound. Others were Cardinal Roberti, the 
canonist; Cardinal Marella; the cardinal archbishop of Naples, 
Alfonso Castaldo. All were names proposed, extolled, de 
fended and speculated about as the hour of conclave ap 
proached. The cardinals themselves were mute, their thinking 
revealed only by statements or speeches made days or months 
earlier, by their attitudes in council, by the administration of 
the offices they held. Frustration and expectation held Rome 
in iron grip on the Wednesday afternoon when the conclave 


would begin. A saying was making the rounds that Thursday 
(June 20th) means Montini; Friday belongs to Lercaro; the 
fourth day either to Confalonieri, Roberti, Antoniutti or Ma- 
rella. The fifth day means either Traglia, Ciriaci, Cicognani or 
Siri. On Wednesday, a day of frantic rumor, the report spread 
that an agreement on the name of Cardinal Montini had been 
reached by Micara, Confalonieri, Urbani, Frings, Lienart, 
and Spellman. 

There were "prophecies" and sayings, too, to consult when 
the matching and the weighing seemed to reach an impasse. 
The monk Malachy of Armagh in Ireland was papal legate for 
Ireland and died at Clairvaux in Burgundy in 1 148. He visited 
Rome twice and from these visits was formed his list of 
"prophecies in the form of mottoes" for succeeding Popes. 
They cannot be traced in book or manuscript further back 
than 1595, and the noted Jesuit Herbert Thurston maintained 
that they had been compiled then to help the candidature of 
an ambitious cardinal. This leaves intact, however, the mystery 
of the striking aptness of many of them. 12 The motto selected 
by Malachy for the Pope now to be elected was Flos Florum 
Flower of the Flowers. It was quickly pointed out that 
both Cardinals Montini and Wyszynski had three lilies in 
their armorial bearings, and as quickly that Cardinals Siri 
and Roberti also had flowers in their coats-of-arms. The man 
ner of interpretation of the prophecies is everything. For ex 
ample, Flos Florum could also refer to the Armenian Cardi 
nal Agagianian as "the flower of the garden of the East" thus 
did Rome amuse itself and protect its divinings against pos 
sibility of error. 13 Every man was a seer. It was pointed out 

12 Benedict XV, Pope during the First World War was character 
ized as Religio Depopulata and John XXTTT, pastoral and the patriarch 
of Venice, as Pastor et Nauta Pastor and Sailor. 

13 According to Malachy's prophecies the Pope to follow the Flos 
Florum will be De medietate lunae from the middle of the moon 


also that a tradition at least a hundred years old demanded 
that a corpulent Pope be followed by a slim one, a Pope with 
an r in his surname by one without. This tradition had been 
maintained by every Pope elected since the time of Pius DC. 

The man whose name was most mentioned spent the few 
free hours of that Wednesday afternoon in typical fashion 
he visited a seminary. Cardinal Montini arrived at the Lom 
bard Pontifical Seminary, his alma mater, at one-thirty on 
Wednesday afternoon and spent more time with the students. 
One brave lad, Luigi Serentha, said to him at one point, 
"Good-by to Milan, Your Eminence." The cardinal raised his 
arms and smiled, as one who was present said, "enigmati 
cally." He spoke of the conclave. "It is a mystery," he said, 
"there are so many influences which shape the decision, but 
more powerful than all is that of the Holy Spirit." He posed 
for the inevitable photographs saying, "If you want them as a 
sign of your affection, then it is a great consolation to me." 
And the last informal poses of the man who will go into his 
tory as Paul VI were captured by the cameras of young Lom 
bard seminarians. 

or it could mean a half-moon (heraldic). Two more Popes will follow: 
De labore soils and Gloriae olivae y and finally Peter II; now is the time 
of anti-Christ, the final apocalypse, the end of the world. 

9. Successor to Peter 
Successor to John 

"For every high priest taken 
from among men, is or 
dained for men in the 
things that appertain to 
God. . . ." 

Saint Paul 

The procedure of locking cardinals and their attendants in a 
building until a Pope has been chosen is, for all of its antiquity 
and the solemn procedures which envelop it, something of a 
grotesquerie. It had its beginning almost seven hundred years 
ago when, on the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268, eighteen 
cardinals met in the papal palace at Viterbo, about fifty miles 
north of Rome to elect a successor. For two years, nine months 
and five days they wrangled while the Church remained with 
out a Pope, and the Papal States which he ruled underwent 
great suffering. 

Finally, the mayor of Viterbo conceived the idea of lock 
ing the cardinals in the palace, seeking to isolate them from 



worldly contacts and distractions which were delaying their 
decisions. Even this failed of its effect. It was then that the roof 
of the palace was removed, exposing the cardinals to the ele 
ments, and when the first rain fell the cardinals quickly agreed 
on the name of Teobaldo Viconti di Piacenza, who, on Sep 
tember 1, 1271, became Gregory X. It was he, with the mem 
ory of those two and a half years in mind, who published the 
norms establishing the procedure of conclave, thereby insur 
ing secrecy and the absence of outside pressure on the elec 
toral college. 

This curiosity of history reveals that conclave has not al 
ways been the method of election employed in the Church. A 
tradition maintains that Saint Peter, before undergoing mar 
tyrdom in the year 67, suggested the names of his three as 
sistants or coadjutors, Linus, Cletus and Clement, as those 
who should follow him in his position of Bishop of Rome and 
thereby as the one preeminent in the Church. For a long time 
such a procedure was followed, the Pope suggesting his suc 
cessor, the name being confirmed by the assembly of bishops, 
the opinion and approval of the people being not a small part 
of the decision. In the eighth century it was decided that the 
election would rest with the clergy of Rome alone and the 
Pope be chosen from among the cardinals, although this was 
often ignored. Further precise directions were issued by Alex 
ander HI (1159-1181), imposing as necessary a two-thirds 
majority in order that the election be valid. 

Secrecy and isolation continue to be key words in conclaves 
to this day, and the conclave to choose a successor to Pope 
John was scrupulously prepared. The cardinals, with few ex 
ceptions, were allowed one assistant only, and within the 
sealed-off area there were another twenty Vatican officials 
and some seventy-five attendants and servants. Twelve nuns 
were assigned to staff the kitchen. A doctor, a surgeon, two 
architects, two barbers and a confessor were included in the 


number of conclavists. Cardinals Confalonieri, Browne, and 
Traglia were commissioned by the College to determine and 
assess the probity, morals and commitment to secrecy of all 

Pius XII had sought, following his election, to set aside a 
section of the rambling Vatican Palace as an area in which 
suitable accommodations for the cardinals could be provided, 
and over fifteen apartments were installed, but the increased 
number of cardinals with their attendants made these inade 
quate, and called for ingenious improvisation. The cells, 1 as 
they are called, some of them large rooms used ordinarily for 
other purposes, now had simple furniture moved in, their us 
ual furnishings, for the most part, undisturbed. The ceremo 
nial halberds of the Swiss Guard kept watch over the bed of 
one cardinal. Temporary walls were erected to subdivide large 
throne rooms, and even the kitchen of the Pope's apartment 
contained a bed for a prince of the Church, with a bed in an 
adjoining pantry for his secretary. 

The feeling of improvisation and of temporary provision 
was everywhere, Franciscan simplicity of furnishing contrast 
ing with the overwhelming painting and frescoes of some of 
the temporary cells. Cardinals Ciriaci, Di Jorio and Testa 
supervised their preparation. They were assigned, contrary to 
custom, by drawing lots, although those ill or advanced in age 
were assigned the more comfortable cells and those closest to 
the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Spellman was fortunate in draw- 

1 Gregory X, in 1274, had indicated that the sleeping quarters of 
the cardinals should be a communal dormitory. Clement VI, in 1345, 
permitted the bed of each cardinal to be separated by a curtain or a 
wall. When the conclaves began to be held in convents "cells" were 
constructed, at least 30 centimeters apart. It was Leo Xm in the late 
nineteenth century who allowed the cardinals each to have his proper 
room, although the word cell attaches to them to this day. 


ing the sumptuous official apartment of the Cardinal Secretary 
of State. Cardinal Gushing was lodged in the reconverted of 
fice of an accountant. Cardinal Meyer of Chicago received 
the apartment of the chief of the Vatican Library. Cardinal 
Mclntyre of Los Angeles drew a Spartan bedroom in the 
quarters of the pontifical Noble Guard, and Cardinal Ritter 
of St. Louis was assigned a small furnished storeroom. 

Within the conclave area, doors were sealed, windows cov 
ered, radio and television banned; the only telephones were 
for use within the area itself. The whole maze was under the 
care of the governor of the conclave, Monsignor Callori di 
Vignale, with the marshal of the conclave, Prince Sigismondo 
Chigi Albani della Rovere, entrusted with guarding its se 
crecy. Contact with the outside world was not entirely severed; 
it simply became rigidly controlled. Only two "roundabouts" 
allowed this contact once the conclave was sealed. No conver 
sation with an outsider was allowed except in the presence of 
the custodians of the conclave and in a language understood 
by them. No uninspected letter was permitted to leave the con 
clave except by the Grand Penitentiary. The introduction of 
newspapers carried an ipso facto excommunication. The court 
yard of San Damaso was sealed within the conclave area and 
provided ample space for exercise outdoors, while the spa 
cious frescoed corridors gave the same opportunity indoors. 
There was no feeling of constriction nor of crampedness 
the area was too expansive for that. 

The kitchen where the cardinals' food would be prepared 
was a high vaulted room, its fourteenth-century walls recently 
uncovered and restored. It contained gleaming stainless-steel 
worktables and sinks, and modern gray-enameled refrig 
erators. The dining room, the largest room of the Borgia 
apartments, was once the armor room of the Borgia family. 
Thirty-five feet above the U-shaped table was a fifteenth- 
century fresco by II Pinturicchio. The china and silver ap- 


pointments of the table were simple. To feed the cardinals 
and their entourage tons of food were stored: 1,600 pounds 
of pasta, 4,000 pounds of potatoes, 1,500 litres of white and 
red wine, 6,000 bottles of mineral water, 3,000 bottles of 
beer, 200 pounds of coffee, and three large slabs of Parmesan 
cheese were among the provisions. If it was to be a long con 
clave, logistically it would be invulnerable. 

Shortly before five o'clock on Wednesday afternoon, the 
procession of the cardinals and of their attendants to the con 
clave began. They approached the Pauline Chapel through 
the Ducal Hall, watched in silence by special visitors crowded 
behind barricades. The cardinals, still in mourning purple, 
moved slowly, their entrances widely spaced, grave in their 
remembrance of the charge given them that morning at the 
Mass of the Holy Spirit: ". . . to give the Holy Roman and 
Catholic Church a pastor both capable and worthy in the 
shortest time possible and with the greatest zeal, leaving aside 
all worldly considerations and having God alone before their 

Some walked, bent and aged, leaning heavily on the arms 
of their attendants, others strode purposively in the direction 
of the chapel. When the cardinal archbishop of Milan ap 
peared, solemn, his hands clasped, head lowered, applause 
broke out among some of the spectators, and audible whispers 
of "the Pope, the Pope!" were heard. The cardinal heard them 
too, and raised his head and hands in a gesture of annoyance 
and silence. Minutes before he had knelt at the tomb of Pope 
John, and it was from there that he had begun his entrance 
into conclave. 

The cardinals prayed briefly together in the Pauline Chapel, 
its walls lined with Michelangelo's awesome "Conversion of 
Saint Paul" and "Martyrdom of Peter." Then, led by a master 
of ceremonies bearing a glittering cross, they filed into the 


Sistine Chapel, a hundred feet away. They made their way to 
their places in the chapel while choristers sang the Veni 
Creator Spiritus. The chapel glowed softly, alive with light 
and movement, displaying the treasures of art which make it 
unequaled in the Western world. For some centuries it has 
been the private chapel of the Popes, but it is only in the last 
hundred years that it has been used as the setting for the papal 

The chapel is divided into two unequal portions by an 
elegant Florentine Renaissance screen, providing a kind of 
antechapel, and it was here, just inside the door to the left, at 
table 39, that Cardinal Montini took his place, flanked on one 
side by Cardinal Gracias of India, and on the other by the 
patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Urbani. The chapel floor and 
the hangings other than the eighty-two purple thrones, with 
their collapsible canopies, were covered in green. A purple- 
covered desk stood before the altar, the scrutineers' tables 
and benches nearby. Behind the altar with its silver candle 
sticks hung a tapestry depicting the scene of the first Pentecost. 
And behind this, soaring to the ceiling, the "Last Judgment" 
of Michelangelo brooded over the assembly. 

The hymn and prayer concluded, all those not of the con 
clave were ordered to depart, and the constitution governing 
the procedure to be followed was read to the cardinals. Each 
took an oath to observe the constitution in all its parts, to de 
fend the rights of the Church if elected Pope, to keep secret 
everything happening in conclave, and neither to receive nor 
countenance any veto. The Cardinal Dean addressed them on 
the gravity of thek task, the principal officers of the conclave 
were sworn in, and then the cardinals retired to their cells, 
some in the nearby Borgia apartments, others traveling by 
staircase and elevator and along corridors leading to wings of 
the palace a city block away. 

Now the solemn ceremony of sealing the conclave began. 


The bell in the courtyard of San Damaso was rung three 
times, the cry, "Extra omnes" all outside rang out, the 
lights were switched on throughout the area, a search made 
of every corner by the Camerlengo and his assistants, the con 
clavists inspected to insure that no unauthorized person re 
mained inside. The doors leading to the outside world were 
finally locked from the inside by the Cardinal Camerlengo 
and from the outside by the marshal of the conclave, Prince 
Chigi, dressed in his ceremonial Spanish uniform of black vel 
vet and white lace. Over the Bronze Door, leading into the 
Vatican palace the flag of his family, bearing the coat-of-arms 
in red and blue, proclaimed that in his person was vested the 
keeping of the palace during the conclave, a role his family 
had received from Pope Clement XI in 1712. 

To insure the secrecy of the conclave, the marshal could 
call on the papal forces, the Swiss and Palatine Guards, who 
are under his command during this time, and in the highly 
unlikely possibility of necessity, raise a militia of Roman citi 
zens. A notary witnessed to the sealing of the conclave from 
outside, and another did the same within the conclave. Cardi 
nal Tisserant, in the name of the cardinal bishops, Cardinal 
Lienart of the cardinal priests, and Cardinal Ottaviani of the 
cardinal deacons, alone remained outside their cells while the 
sealing was accomplished. Then they too withdrew and the 
silence of the conclave was joined to its secrecy as Wednesday 
night closed in. 

Thursday morning began with a low Mass celebrated by 
the Cardinal Dean and a hymn to the Holy Spirit. The voting 
began at nine o'clock, with two sessions scheduled for the 
morning and two for the afternoon. The Pope can be elected 
in any of three ways. The first is by "inspiration" this is the 
unanimous acceptance by the College of a declaration by one 
or more cardinals that one of their number is freely and spon 
taneously chosen. The second method is by compromise, 


which means that the College can delegate its choice to a 
committee of three, five or seven. 2 The committee is instructed 
by the College as to how many votes will be necessary to elect 
the Pope four out of seven, three out of four, etc. The third 
method, by election, is the traditional method and the one 
used on this occasion by the cardinals in their voting sessions. 

Ballots were distributed and all who were not cardinals 
were ordered out of the chapel. On each ballot was printed: "I 

elect as Sovereign Pontiff, the Lord Cardinal " (The 

formula ignores the fact that outsiders, even laymen, may be 
nominated.) The procedure is for the cardinal elector to write 
the name, in as disguised writing as possible, fold it, take it 
between the thumb and first finger of his right hand and in 
his turn, according to seniority, carry it to the altar. He 
kneels in prayer, and then rising says: "I call the Lord Christ, 
who will be my Judge, to witness that I am electing the one 
whom in the sight of God I think the most proper to be 
elected." He then places his ballot on a paten and tips it into 
the silver chalice resting in the center of the altar. 

There are four votes taken each day, in two pairs. The 
cardinal scrutineers read the ballots aloud, allowing each car 
dinal to keep his own score. The cardinal revisors count the 
ballots again, and the last of the cardinal scrutineers passes 
a needle through the center of each ballot and binds them 
with a thread. The burning of the ballots takes place twice a 
day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, for four 
scrutinies in all. The cardinal scrutineers bring the ballots 
from the altar to the stove, dilapidated rather than ancient, 
standing just inside the door of the chapel. With the aid of old 
copies of the Osservatore Romano and, if the balloting is in- 

2 This procedure would be used most probably in a case of hope 
less deadlock when no candidate could receive two-thirds of the votes 
(or two-thirds plus one if the number present is not divisible by 


conclusive (two-thirds plus one is required), with dampened 
straw added, the fire is ignited which destroys the cardinals' 
ballots and gives out the black smoke of "no election" to the 
crowds waiting in Saint Peter's square. 3 The tally sheets for 
each scrutiny are not burned, nor are the notes made by the 
cardinals. They are preserved in the Vatican archives to be 
opened only on orders of the reigning Pope. Following the 
election, it is the Cardinal Camerlengo's charge to draw up a 
report on how the voting went at each session, and after the 
approval of the senior cardinal bishop, cardinal priest and 
cardinal deacon, it too is sealed away in the archives. 

In the intervals between the rounds of balloting the cardi 
nals were free to leave the chapel and to mingle in the less 
cramped area of the conclave as a whole. They were free, too, 
to discuss the election, to voice their opinions, express their 
choice and if possible, and if they chose, to seek to persuade 
those who remained doubtful or as yet unconvinced. They 
were summoned back to the election precinct by a bell, and 
the procedure of the first balloting was repeated. 

The first ballot of the day is traditionally cast in "favorite 
son" fashion and is often called "demonstrative voting." It 
provides the cardinals with an opportunity to express their 
respect for the office or person of certain of the cardinals 
without regard to their being serious candidates. An opportu 
nity is also afforded to estimate the relative strength of the 
principal candidates. 4 The number of possible ballots is limit- 

3 To avoid confusion concerning the color of the smoke, elec 
tronic signals were installed, marked white and black, to inform Vati 
can Radio. During the conclave which elected Pope John XXIH the 
Vatican radio mistakenly informed the world one day early that a 
Pope had been elected. 

4 The Vatican correspondent of the Roman morning newspaper, 
II Messagero, reported later that Cardinal Gushing of Boston had 
sought in this first balloting to gain the Papacy for an unidentified 
cardinal by the method of inspiration. He had, said the newspaper, 


less and there is no process of elimination. Candidates may be 
put in and taken out at will. If a cardinal is ill and obliged to 
remain in his cell, three cardinals are delegated to obtain his 
vote. It is received in a box with a small opening at the top, 
which has first been shown to all the cardinals to be empty, 
then locked, and the key laid on the altar. Should a cardinal 
be unable to leave his throne, he pronounces the ritual for 
mula in his place and consigns his ballot to the cardinal scru 

Two rounds of balloting took place on Thursday morning, 
Outside in St. Peter's square some 20,000 people waited. At 
11:45 A.M. the first puff of smoke appeared. It was whitish, 
and pulses quickened, but then it darkened and thickened 
and floated away in the clear Roman air. At four o'clock that 
afternoon the balloting began again, and at 5:47 the smoke 
rose, this time unmistakably black, and the conclave was sent 
into its second day. 

Friday, the first day of summer, dawned hot and humid in 
Rome. The first days of June had been fresh and cool, and 
people grumbled about the heat and speculated lazily over 
coffee whether the Pope would be elected today. A newspa 
per vendor was certain: "They'll elect him today. If there's 
a cold war going on inside, this heat will put an end to it." It 
was the feast of the Sacred Heart, and in the Roman churches 
the Mass of the feast was being offered, and with the added 
Collect from the Mass for the Election of a Pope: "We most 
humbly entreat Thee, O Lord, that Thy boundless goodness 

announced his intention previously, and rose in his place to proclaim: 
"My Lords, considering the virtues and qualities of the Lord Cardinal 

, I judge him worthy to be elected Supreme Pontiff, and from 

this moment I myself choose him as Pope." It was later reported that 
the cardinal in question was Cardinal Montini. 


may grant as bishop to the most holy Roman Church one who 
shall ever be both pleasing to Thee, by his loving zeal in our 
regard, and, by his beneficent rule, deeply revered by Thy 
people to the glory of Thy name." 

In the Vatican palace, shuttered and enclosed in its second 
day of conclave, the cardinals attended Mass, again celebrated 
by the Dean. Breakfast was a quick affair, and by nine o'clock 
the cardinals were in the Sistine Chapel and the balloting be 
gan again. 5 It appears that the first vote of the day, the fifth of 
the conclave, was the final one. At 11:19 a grayish trickle of 
tentatively white smoke emerged from the tube on the roof 
of the Sistine Chapel. Suddenly it billowed upward in a huge 
and unmistakably white cloud. The Pope had been elected! A 
cheer went up from the thousands already in the piazza, and 

5 Nothing certain is known of the balloting; the secret of the con 
clave prevents such information from being revealed. The accepted spec 
ulation maintains that Cardinal Montini showed unexpected strength 
on the first ballot, supported strongly by the Americans. Cardinals 
Sin and Antoniutti received support as did the cardinal archbishop 
of Bologna, Lercaro, but Montini's strength was sufficient to have 
carried him, on the fourth ballot of Wednesday's voting, to within a 
few votes of election. The first ballot of Friday, concludes this version, 
gave him 79 votes. 

La Stampa, a respected daily of Turin, in its issue of June 23, re 
ferred to the importance some had attached to the visit Cardinal Spell- 
man of New York had made to Cardinal Montini on the Tuesday night 
before the conclave. It was considered significant, said the newspaper, 
because the archbishop of New York was considered a leading ex 
ponent of the conservative position ha the Church. The newspaper 
continued: ". . . yesterday, in the rejoicing following the election, 
Cardinal Spellman let fall a revealing phrase in one of the halls of 
the apostolic palace, in the presence of many witnesses. He was walk 
ing with his colleague Cardinal Micara, and at one point, in a some 
what playful and happy mood, he exclaimed: 'You saw, Your Emi 
nence, you saw! We did as you ordered us to do.' " The paper adds 
that it was no secret that in pre-conclave days Cardinal Micara was 
Cardinal Montini's most avid supporter. 


from all over Rome, informed by radio and television, people 
started converging on Saint Peter's square. 

Inside the Sistine Chapel the scrutiny of the ballots had 
ended. The tally was announced to the cardinals; one among 
them had a majority. The junior of the cardinal deacons, Car 
dinal Albareda, moved slowly to the door of the chapel and 
called the principal officers of the conclave to enter as wit 
nesses. They waited as the Cardinal Dean of the Sacred Col 
lege, Cardinal Tisserant, together with Cardinals Goncalves 
Cerejeira and Ottaviani, moved majestically down the chapel, 
through the screen, turned to the right and stopped before the 
green-covered table with the neat N. 39 on it. Behind it sat 
the cardinal archbishop of Milan, immobile, his lips barely 
moving in prayer. In Latin the Cardinal Dean asked: "Do you 
accept your election as Supreme Pontiff which has been can- 
onically carried out?" Cardinal Montini looked at him for 
a brief moment, then said: "I accept in the name of the 
Lord." "By what name will you be known?" asked the Dean. 
"I will be called Paul," came the firm reply. The Dean bowed 
to the new Pope, the canopies were lowered over the thrones 
of the cardinals and one alone remained enthroned the suc 
cessor to John, the successor to Peter. 

Accompanied by the cardinal deacons, the Pope went im 
mediately to the sacristy adjoining the chapel to put on one 
of three white cassocks, together with a white sash, a rochet, 
mozzetta, a red stole embroidered in gold, white stockings, 
shoes of red velvet with small crosses of gold, and a white 
skullcap. He returned to the Sistine Chapel, blessing the car 
dinals as he walked to the sedia gestatoria, resting on the foot 
pace of the altar, and sat to receive the first reverence of the 
cardinals. It was at this point that the ballots were burned 
and news of the Pope's election reached the outside. 6 The 

6 The conclave had lasted 42 hours: one of the shortest in history. 
Pius XII was chosen in less than 24 hours, Pope John XXIII in 3 days. 


Fisherman's Ring was placed on the Pope's finger by the 
Cardinal Dean, and he rose to go to the balcony of Saint Pe 
ter's for his first appearance before the world. 

As high noon approached, the sun beat down on the piazza 
in front of the basilica, which was filling rapidly. Under their 
blue umbrellas the photographers waited, and high on the 
colonnades in flimsy wooden booths the television cameras 
had been set up to record the scene. Italian soldiers marched 
smartly into the piazza and took up positions before the stairs 
of the basilica. The Palatine Guard appeared. A band played. 
The people chatted, voicing their choices, shielding them 
selves against the sun, cameras to the fore. A few minutes af 
ter twelve, the glass doors opening onto the central balcony of 
Saint Peter's swung wide, and a great roar went up. A red- 
bordered white papal tapestry, still bearing the coat-of-arms 
of Pope John, was draped over the balustrade, and Cardinal 
Ottaviani appeared in the midst of jostling ecclesiastics. 

The crowd of 100,000 was still. The voice of the almost 
blind cardinal was strong and clear: "Annuntio vobis gau- 
dium magnum: habemus Papam" he began. There was a 
burst of applause and the crowd tensed, waiting. "Eminentis- 
simum ac Reverendissimum Dominum Cardinalem Joannem 
Baptistam the Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinal 

John Baptist " The crowd exploded; no need to hear the 

final name, but it came strongly: 4C Montini, who has taken the 
name Paul VI." 

The announcement of the name brought a renewed roar. 
'It is a program in itself," shouted a priest, beside himself 
with excitement. The cheering continued, and suddenly pres 
ent on the balcony was the slight, slim figure of the new Pope, 
diminished against the perspective of the church. He stood di 
rectly under the name of the Borghese Paul V, emblazoned 
across the facade. He lifted his arms and hands in a gesture of 
greeting and acknowledgment, a slight smile on his lips. 


Then in a strong voice, and without tremor, he imparted his 
first blessing to the city and to the world. "Blessed be the 
name of the Lord," he chanted. "Now and forever," answered 
the crowd. "Our help is in the name of the Lord," called the 
Pope. "Who has made heaven and earth," came the response. 
Then with a majestic sweep and elevation of his arms, he 
traced his blessing in the Roman air: "May the blessing of Al 
mighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, descend upon you 
and remain forever." 

Across Rome the bells rang out jubilantly, and across the 
world the news spread that Cardinal Montini, long the servi 
tor of Popes, had himself become the Servant of the servants 
of God. He joined the cardinals for one last meal together, 
refusing to preside in the place of honor, choosing to sit in 
the position assigned to him when he first entered the con 
clave. That afternoon the Pope formally lifted the conclave 
enclosure and received once again the "adoration," or more 
properly, the expression of respect and fealty, of the cardinals. 
Afterward he insisted on having his photograph taken with 
all of the cardinals clustered around him, the first such to be 
taken following a conclave. 

The press of the world greeted the election of Paul VI with 
praise. The emphasis throughout was of gratification that one 
who had identified himself so intimately with the spirit and 
program of Pope John should be his successor. Said the Lon 
don Times: "The most significant point in the election of Paul 
VI is indeed the fact that the cardinals or the majority of 
them chose a Pope who would pursue the innovating work of 
John XXDI." The French press unanimously expressed its de 
light. "There is no doubt," said Le Monde, "that Paul VI is, of 
all those who might have succeeded Pope John XXin, the 
one who is closest to his thinking." The press in the Iron Cur 
tain countries expressed cautious optimism regarding the pro 
gram that the new Pope would foster in promoting world 


peace. Said the New York Times: ". . . the cardinals could 
not have chosen anyone more clearly calculated to carry on 
where Pope John had to leave off . . . ." 

President Kennedy sent a message to the new Pope which 
wished him "long years of leadership in the cause of peace 
and goodwill so nobly advanced by your great predecessor." 
The Queen of England, General de Gaulle, Premier Khru 
shchev, all sent their felicitations. The Russian premier ex 
pressed his best wishes "for success in your activities favorable 
to peace and to the peaceful coexistence of peoples." 

Many saw in the name he had chosen a presage of his pro 
gram. It was a name unused for centuries, as had been the 
name chosen by John XXHL The Pauls who had preceded the 
new Pope were recalled. Pope Paul I, a brother of Pope 
Stephen II, came to the throne in 757, and consolidated the 
temporal holdings of the Holy See. Pope Paul n sought to 
bring the Russian Orthodox Church back into union with 
Rome. Alessandro Farnese, Paul El, was elected in 1534. He 
summoned the Council of Trent, founded the congregation of 
the Holy Office, issued a condemnation of slavery, and de 
fended the rights of the Indians in the newly-discovered 
America. Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, who succeeded him 
in 1555 as Paul IV, had no faith in the reforming success of 
the Council of Trent and suspended it, preferring to deal 
directly with the problem of heretics. Pope Paul V, elected in 
1605, was an intransigent man, more rigid than diplomatic, 
more a challenger than a reconciler of men. He nevertheless 
sought, as had Paul n, to effect union with the Russian 
Orthodox Church. 

Many of the problems which confronted his predecessors 
bearing the name of Paul efforts at Christian unity, the 
problems attendant on holding an ecumenical council f aced 
the new Paul. There is little doubt he chose his name because 
of his devotion to Saint Paul the Apostle. The zeal and Chris- 


tian breadth of Paul had always challenged the new Holy 
Father. Said the Osservatore Romano of the choice: "The 
Apostle to the Gentiles ... is a symbol of ecumenical unity, 
venerated by Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians/' 
It was pointed out that it was Saint Paul who had internation 
alized the early Church, the great missionary apostle who 
sought to become all things to all men that he might win them 
to Christ. 

At the beginning of June Pope John XXm still lived. On 
the last day of June, his successor was crowned. For nine days 
already he had been Pope, from the moment he had replied, 
"I accept" to the question posed him by the Cardinal Dean in 
the Sistine Chapel. They had been days of intense activity, 
sustained and pastoral, and now for a few hours the Pope and 
the Church paused, while in centuries-old symbol and pag 
eantry the choice of the cardinals was declared with public 

To some, the glittering ceremony of coronation of the Pope 
is an incongruity and anachronism, unworthy of the successor 
of the simple fisherman and the vicar of the simple Christ. He 
is a pastor and pastors do not wear crowns. He is a servant 
and the trappings of monarchy are not for servants. But the 
ceremony of coronation of the Pope is unique, a declaration of 
supreme spiritual significance, historically rooted and grown. 
Conceived and developed, as is much of the ceremonial of the 
papal court, in imitation of the Christian Roman emperors, it 
sought in times past to affirm, not mere equality with them, 
but an exaltation of the office of the Pope in order to proclaim 
the ascendancy of the spiritual over the merely temporal. As 
the Church, her position established, moves further into the 
modern world, there is sure to be modification, curtailment, 
but it will be gradual, almost imperceptible. It took three hun- 


dred years to evolve papal coronations, the work of a hundred 

Because the great nave of St. Peter's basilica, traditional set 
ting for the coronation ceremony, was still filled with the tiers 
of seats prepared for the bishops in Council, the Pope decided 
that the ceremony should take place in front of Saint Peter's, 
with the great gradines of the church serving as the sanctuary, 
and the immense curving piazza, enclosed by Bernini's col 
umns, as the sweeping nave of the outdoor church. The altar 
was set forward on the rim of the steps, with the great throne 
placed against the central door of the basilica. Wisely, too, it 
was decided to hold the ceremony at 6 P.M., when the shim 
mering heat of the Roman June day would have somewhat 

Already much of the piazza was in shadow when the trib 
unes, to the left and right of the altar, began to fill with the 
diplomatic corps, the Roman nobility, and the special rep 
resentatives of ninety-two nations, international organizations, 
and churches. The King and Queen of the Belgians were 
among the heads of state present, also the Presidents of Italy 
and of Ireland. President Kennedy, although already in Italy, 
had appointed a distinguished representation. It was headed 
by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, and 
included Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, Mr. Charles W. 
Englehard, Jr., and Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the 
Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. The naming of the 
outstanding Jewish scholar was remarked in the United States 
as the first time a rabbi had ever served in such capacity, and 
was hailed as "a high watermark in Vatican- Jewish relations." 

The procession formed in one of the great palace rooms of 
the Vatican, and moved slowly down the magnificent Scala 
Regia, through the Bronze Door and into the square where 
two hundred thousand people waited to hail the Pope. The 


crowd was quiet as the procession moved into view, led by the 
Swiss Guard in their orange, red and blue; the chamberlains 
in their purple; the lay dignitaries in their black; the bussolanti 
in their violet cassocks and red capes; followed by the chap- 
Iain carrying the tiara. The penitentiaries appeared, dressed in 
black, followed by chaplains in violet and red, and then row 
upon row of white-mitred and caped patriarchs, archbishops 
and bishops, followed by the similarly attired cardinals. Then, 
borne aloft on his sedia, the great ostrich feather fans waving 
beside him and the canopy above him, came the Pope. A vast 
roar greeted him. Shouts of "Long live the Pope!" were 
drowned in the cascading applause, as he turned from left to 
right, blessing the crowd. Three times in the procession to 
the altar and throne the sedia carrying the Pope halted, while 
a friar burned a piece of flax, and in a voice which reverber 
ated through the piazza called out: "Holy Father, thus passes 
the glory of the world." 

Once seated on the throne within the temporary sanctuary, 
the obedience of the cardinals began, each approaching singly 
to kiss his ring and to be embraced. Some he steadied as they 
tottered, some lingered for a word, anxiously watched by the 
prefect of ceremonies, Archbishop Dante, hovering nearby. 

The long, solemn pontifical Mass followed, celebrated at 
the altar facing the crowd. The Epistle and Gospel were sung 
in Latin and in Greek, to mark the universality of the Church, 
and the Gospel reminded the Pope: "Thou art Peter. . . ." At 
the end of the Mass one of the most charming of customs dur 
ing the long ceremony was fulfilled. The dean of the Vatican 
chapter, accompanied by two canons, approached the Holy 
Father and gave him a small bag of white silk, decorated in 
gold thread, containing twenty-five coins "Pro Missa bene 
cantata" for a Mass well sung. 

Darkness had settled over the square and floodlights illumi 
nated the sanctuary as the Pope took his place on the throne. 


The moment of coronation was at hand, and a bearer ap 
proached with the tiara, the triple-tiered, beehive shaped 
crown, a gift to the Pope from the people of Milan. It glinted 
softly in the light as Cardinal Ottaviani, senior deacon of the 
College of Cardinals, raised it high above the Pope's head and 
slowly lowered it, saying as he did: "Receive this tiara, 
adorned with three crowns, and know that you are the father 
of princes and kings, guide of the world, and vicar of Jesus 
Christ, our Saviour." 

The coronation speech of the Holy Father was given in nine 
languages. He spoke first in Latin, then in Italian, French, 
English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Russian. In 
Latin he spoke of the solemnity of the spectacle of the corona 
tion, his obligation to speak, the weight of his office, the role 
of the Church and the frailty of his human nature on whose 
slender powers God had seen fit to impose such a task. "We 
flee finally to Paul, from whom we have taken our name, so 
that we may place ourselves under his auspices and gain his 
protection. . . . May he choose to be our heavenly model 
and patron through all of the days of our life." 

Because French was more widely understood he chose it, 
the Pope said, to announce to the world his attitudes toward 
the Catholic communities, the separated Churches and the 
modern world. "The Church . . . regards as incomparable 
wealth," he said, "the variety of languages and rites in which 
it carries out its dialogue with heaven. The Eastern commu 
nities which continue in their noble and ancient traditions are, 
in our eyes, worthy of honor, esteem and confidence ... To 
those who, without belonging to the Catholic Church, are 
united to Us by the powerful bond of faith and love of Jesus 
Christ and marked with the unique seal of baptism one 
Lord, one faith, one baptism we address ourselves, doubly 
encouraged by an immense desire, the same which has moved 
so many among them: to hasten the blessed day which will 


see, after so many centuries of deadly separation, the realiza 
tion of Christ's prayer on the eve of His death ut sint unum, 
that they may be one. . . . No more than he [Pope John 
XXTEI] do We nourish illusions about the exigencies of the 
problems to be solved and the gravity of the obstacles to be 
surmounted. But, faithful to the great Apostle whose name 
We have taken, rather are We to practice the truth in love 
(Ephesians 4,15). We intend leaning only on Our weapons of 
truth and charity, to pursue the dialogue that has been begun 
and, as far as We are able, to help the work already under 

As he had so often done in Milan, the Pope referred to the 
dialogue of the Church with the modern world. "But beyond 
the frontiers of Christianity, the Church is engaged in another 
dialogue today, the dialogue with the modern world. On super 
ficial examination, the man of today can appear to be more 
and more a stranger to all that is religious and spiritual. Con 
scious of the progress of science and technology, inebriated 
by spectacular successes in domains hitherto unexplored, he 
seems to see his own power as divine and to want to do with 
out God. 

"But behind this grandiose f agade it is easy to discover the 
profound voices of this modern world, which is also worked 
upon by the Holy Spirit and by grace. It aspires to justice, to a 
progress that is not only technical but also human, to a peace 
that is not merely the precarious suspension of hostilities 
among nations or among social classes, but that would permit 
at last an openness and a collaboration among men and peo 
ples in an atmosphere of reciprocal confidence." 

In the English part of his sermon Pope Paul said: "To our 
venerable brothers and beloved children who use the English 
language a word of greeting and of blessing in their mother 
tongue . . . your language makes a notable contribution to 
ward increased understanding and unity among nations and 


races. . . . We exhort you, Our children and all English- 
speaking men of good will, to strive and pray that this price 
less blessing [of peace] may be given and preserved upon 
earth, as announced by the Angels when Christ, Our Saviour, 
was bom." 

The Pope spoke in Spanish and Portuguese before turning 
to German, in which he paid tribute to the faith of the people 
of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Then in Polish he said: 
"In a special way We salute and bless Our beloved Poland 
which has always been faithful, where We stayed for a time, 
and which remains always very dear to our heart." And clos 
ing in Russian, he said, "Our thoughts are directed to all the 
Russian people to whom We send a fatherly blessing with all 
Our heart." 

Night had fallen when the ceremony of coronation finally 
ended. In the glare of the lights, under a sky which lay low 
over Rome, the Pope was borne back to his palace. He had 
been crowned, and now it was the quiet words and actions of 
his pontificate to which the world would look and which 
would receive the judgment of history. 

10. The Pauline Pontificate 

Gregory the Great, according to legend, after his election to 
the Papacy, escaped from Rome in a grain basket. For three 
days and nights he wandered in forests and caves outside the 
city to avoid mounting the throne. In the end he submitted 
humbly. Pius XII, more credibly, is said to have cried out ask 
ing God's mercy when his election was announced. The initial 
reaction of Cardinal Montini has not been recorded, other than 
his acceptance, but if one may deduce it from a knowledge of 
his temperament, one may suppose that he sustained the voice 
of the divine imperative in almost complete quiet. 

Like Pius XII, he brought to the papal throne something of 
the "sense" of the Papacy. His Vatican years had been served 
under Pius XI and Pius XII, and his dialogue with John XXIII 
had been exchanged in a close bond of mind and heart. In his 
forty years as a priest, he had had an opportunity to see a 
gradual change develop in the role of the Vicar of Christ in 
the world. Within the term of his own service in diplomacy, 
the gradation could be traced from the idea of public monitor- 
ship in Pius XI, a role partly inherited, partly thrust upon him 
by historical events, and partly the product of his own temper 
ament. It grew more dominant with the advance of world 



Communism in the 30*s and its promotion of the materialism 
which posed such strong threats to the Church and to society. 
Pius XII, too, had matured as Pope in a context of tangibly 
crucial opposition and world convulsion, his challenge not 
only the visible enemies of Fascism and Nazism, but the intel 
lectual uncertainties and disillusions that followed on the 
Second World War. Thus he had conceived his role, in large 
part, as that of the teacher of the Catholic world, the clarifier 
of its spiritual and social doctrine, the defender of a threatened 
Christendom. It was a pontificate in the tradition of the Con- 
stantinian era which was to end with his reign. 

Since the middle 50's, there had evolved a still more exten 
sive and responsive regard for what the Pope thinks and repre 
sents in all aspects of human concern. In its confusion and im 
balance the world had, to some degree, recognized in the 
Papacy a center of stability and proportion. To this was to be 
added under John an affection for the man and an apprecia 
tion and comprehension of the Church he led, which was 
unique in this century. 

The Papacy entered the 60's vital and renewed, aware of its 
own spiritual preeminence, the volume of its voice, and the 
gravitational pull of its sanctifying burdens. Under Pope John 
it became more recognizably the bond of unity among all 
Christians, and to some degree, among all men. 1 The secular 
press had been emphatic in insisting that it was John who gave 
the Papacy "an urgent and abiding interest in the minds of 
millions of non-Catholics." It is difficult to believe that had 
John lived longer his words on any issue of moral significance 
would have f alien unheeded. Attack and strong opposition he 
might have known, but hardly dismissal. And Paul is the suc- 

1 "The Petrine office is understood ... as Christ's own provision of 
a final court of arbitration and mediation in the service of unity." 
H. Kung, The Council, Reform and Reunion (New York: Sheed & 
Ward, 1962), p. 133. 


cessor not only of Peter but of John. John's expressed approval 
of him, and his own avowal of the duty to follow the path of 
John, made the world alert from the beginning of his pontifi 
cate to even the least obtrusive manifestations of his official 
response to human situations. 

Throughout his life there has been every indication that 
Pope Paul knows, not only in concept but in wisdom and in 
spiritual touch, the nature of the world he has come to mediate. 
It is a world of the common man and the common man in a 
diversity of races, beliefs, national and cultural backgrounds. 
It is a world in which, as Yves Congar has described it, "one 
man out of every three lives under Communism, and one 
Christian out of every two is not a Catholic." It is a world in 
which there still persists a stubborn reluctance to believe in the 
individual and corporate power of the common man, a power 
which Pope John knew intuitively. Pope Paul by his wide 
reading among writers concerned with the plight of modern 
man Camus, Mann, Malraux deepened intellectually an 
already profoundly human and spiritual insight to which his 
pastoral years in Milan gave added dimension. 

In the- first months of his reign Pope Paul, even though al 
ready evincing an emphasis and language more his own than 
John's, seemed to capture the mood and spirit of John's pon 
tificate. It should not be forgotten, however, that between 
these two Popes, men with a patent affinity for each other, 
there exists a polarity which has both separated and united 
men as leaders and thinkers from earliest times separated 
men as they approach human problems frontally or laterally, 
as they accept or refuse to accept the fact of tension; united 
men as the world expresses a need for them together, and con 
fronts one with the other. 

It might not be too extreme to compare Pope Paul's inter 
pretation and shaping of the ideas and aspirations of John to 
the process of the refraction of light, whereby the many faceted 


prism breaks down the ray into its original components, each 
thereby gaining a new depth and beauty. John's rare gift of 
holy simplicity could be misleading to those who hastily 
judged it to be merely an absence of complication. John's long 
pastoral life could not have been as fruitful as it was, had his 
simplicity been anything but a profound fusion of many 
diversified elements and capacities, made one by an integrat 
ing bent of mind and by what Paul himself called John's 
"goodness," his purity of heart. Upon Paul, however, the 
practiced "translator" of the mind and will of the Popes he 
served, devolves the duty of analysis, of workmanship, the 
careful second stage in aggiornamento, the creative unfolding, 
exposing, distinguishing and consolidating of the aspirations 
of his predecessor and of the hopes of the Church. 

When the history of his pontificate is completely chronicled, 
a glance over the initial months will show a comprehensive 
sensitivity to the diverse forces currently at work in the world. 
From the highly charged equilibrium of amity and power of 
the Test Ban Treaty 2 following within a month of his corona 
tion to the "great game of friendship" of the World Jamboree 
of Boy Scouts at Marathon, Greece, Paul VI almost immedi 
ately caused himself to be heard, speaking with a knowledge 
and calm immensely reassuring to the Church and to the 

2 On July 22 he wired President Kennedy, Premier Khrushchev, 
Prime Minister MacMillan and Secretary-General U Thant: "The 
signing of the treaty banning nuclear experiments has very intimately 
touched Our heart because we see in it a testimony of good will, a 
pledge of harmony, and a promise of a more serene future. Welcoming 
in Our soul, always solicitous for the welfare of humanity, the echo 
of satisfaction and hope which rises from every corner of the world, 
We express our felicitations on completion of an act so comforting and 
so significant and We pray God that He prepare the way for a new and 
true peace hi the world." 


In fulfilment of Ms pledge of fidelity "to the great canons of 
his [John's] pontificate," Pope Paul in the first hours of his reign 
took a significant step. He confirmed as his Secretary of State 
Amleto Cardinal Cicognani, who had served Pope John in the 
crucial final months of preparation for the Council and during 
its first session, and who was at the center of the various deli 
cate diplomatic experiments which John had initiated. He was 
therefore in a position to provide the continuity and back 
ground necessary for the new Pope in the period of his orienta 
tion. The Sostituto of the Secretariat, Archbishop Angelo 
DelTAcqua, was also confirmed in his office, and thus the 
Holy Father assured himself of a knowledgeable and expert 
team to bring him quietly to the center of the problems and 
challenges facing him. 

Other gestures were more homely. To his former diocese of 
Milan, already jubilantly celebrating three days of holiday in 
honor of its former archbishop, he sent one of his first tele 
grams. There were words of gratitude and a special expression 
of "affection for so many of the poor, the suffering, the aged, 
the children, waiting for a word of comfort and encourage 
ment." He remembered his brothers, too: "To you, my dearest 
Ludovico and Francesco, and to your families, in the holy 
memory of our dear dead parents, who taught us faith in 
Christ and love of the Church, the first of the apostolic bless 
ings from your always most affectionate brother, today by 
divine disposition, Paul VI." 

At ten o'clock in the evening of the day of his election, the 
Pope phoned his former vicar general in Milan, Archbishop 
Schiavini. He disposed of some matters with him and then 
asked that one of his secretaries in Milan, Don Luigi Sala, be 
called to the phone. "Today is the feast of San Luigi Gonzaga," 
lie said to the overwhelmed young priest, "and I wanted to 
give you my fondest wishes for your feastday." Then it was the 
turn of the superior of the sisters who maintain the residence 


in Milan. "I have so many things in my head (per la testa) 
that I cannot speak," he said to her. "But I bless you all." 

The light in his office burned late into the night as with his 
secretary he dealt with the big and small changes in his life. 
Appointments were made for the fitting of cassocks and shoes 
and hats, the full regalia of a Pope. They would come after his 
appearance in the Sistine Chapel the next morning. The bag 
gage left at Castelgandolfo must be fetched, the Pope wanted 
his desk from his library in Milan, his books must be for 
warded immediately. The message which he was to address to 
the world the next day was drafted and corrected, and shortly 
after one-thirty in the morning the lights went out in the 
Pope's office, and he slept the few hours which remained 
until five o'clock, when he arose for his first full day as 
Supreme Pontiff. 

Within twenty-four hours of his election, Pope Paul again 
entered the Sistine Chapel, there, in the presence of the Col 
lege of Cardinals, through television and by radio, to deliver 
his first message to the world. The scene was visually over 
whelming, and there was a festive, almost jubilant air about 
the cardinals as they arrived for the ceremony. The Pope sat 
enthroned before the tapestry of the Pentecostal scene, looking 
almost fragile in the high gold mitre and sumptuous cope 
which enveloped him. The third and final obedience of the 
cardinals preceded the Pope's speech, and each approached in 
order of seniority, his scarlet cappa magna fully extended, to 
kneel and be embraced by the smiling, courteous Holy Father. 

Monday would be the feast of Saint John the Baptist, after 
whom he had been named, and Cardinal Tisserant, in his 
charming and fluent Italian, presented the "auguri" of the car 
dinals, closing with the words: "We are ready, we cardinals 
who reside in Rome and those of us spread throughout the 
world, to obey and to collaborate in the plans of Your Holi 
ness with a dedication which knows no limits." The Pope was 


visibly touched. He seemed for a moment to lose his compo 
sure, and when he spoke it was slowly, spontaneously, in Ital 
ian. "I feel," he began, "to the point of suffering, my own 
limitations." He paused. Then he continued: "I have experi 
ence, my Lord Cardinals, of the immense and dramatic prob 
lems which confront the Church and the world, and I feel the 
need of that trust and support which you can offer." 

The Pope's first message to the world was delivered in 
Latin. He spoke firmly, strongly. He first paid tribute to his 
predecessors, "who left Us a spiritual, sacred and glorious 
heritage." He remembered Pope Pius XI under whom he had 
begun his Vatican service forty years earlier, ". . . with his 
indominitable spiritual strength"; Pius XII, whom he had 
served through the years of war and in the postwar period, and 
who ". . . illuminated the Church with the light of a teaching 
full of knowledge." 

But it was to Pope John XXIII that he referred in his most 
affectionate and moving words: "But in a very particular way 
we love to remember, with mindful and moving piety, the 
figure of the late John XXIII, who in the brief but very intense 
period of his ministry, was able to bring near to him the hearts 
of men, even those distant, with his unceasing solicitude, with 
his sincere and concrete goodness for the humble, with the 
clearly pastoral character of his actions, qualities to which the 
particularly enchanting and human gift of his great heart was 
added. The enlightenment exercised on souls was a steady 
progress, clearer and clearer, and an ardent flame, up to the 
final personal sacrifice, suffered with that spiritual strength 
that moved the world by uniting mankind around his bed of 
pain and by making them a single heart and a single spirit in 
a united outpouring of great respect, veneration and prayer." 

And then he spoke the words which many waited to hear: 
"The preeminent part of our pontificate will be occupied by 
the continuation of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II, on 


which the eyes of all men of goodwill are focused. This will be 
the principal labor on which We intend to expend all the ener 
gies that the Lord has given us so that the Catholic Church, 
shining over the world like a sign to all nations afar off (Isaiah 
v,26), can attract all men to itself with the majesty of its 
organization, with the youthfulness of its spirit, with the re 
newal of its structure, with the multiplicity of its strength." 

Pope John XXm had set as the third intention of his pon 
tificate, following the holding of the Roman synod and the 
convening of the Ecumenical Council, the long-awaited re 
form of tiie Code of Canon Law which regulates the intra- 
community life of the Church. It had been proposed first by 
Pius XII, and now Pope Paul spoke of it: "In this light will 
take place work for the revision of the Code of Canon Law, 
the furthering of efforts, following the lines set by the great 
social encyclicals of Our predecessors, for the consolidation of 
justice in civil, social and international life, in truth and free 
dom and in respect of reciprocal duties and rights." 

Those who were watching for the Pope's "liberal" utter 
ances were not disappointed, as he spoke more specifically on 
social problems: "The certain order of love for others, a test 
of love for God, demands of all men a more equal solution of 
social problems, demands aid and care for underdeveloped 
countries in which the living standard is often not worthy of 
human dignity all require a voluntary study on a universal 
scale for the improvement of the conditions of life. 

"The new epoch that the conquests of space have opened to 
man land will be singularly blessed by the Lord if men know 
truly how to recognize each other as brothers rather than com 
petitors, and build a world order in holy fear of God, in re 
spect for His laws, in the sweet light of charity and mutual 

"Our work, with the aid of God, will also be to undertake 
every effort for the conservation of the great good of peace 


among peoples a peace that is not only an absence of warlike 
rivalries and armed factions, but a reflection of the order 
wished by the Lord, Creator and Redeemer, a constructive and 
strong will for understanding and brotherhood, a clear-cut 
expression of good will, a never-ceasing desire for active con 
cord, inspired by the true well-being of mankind, in unaffected 

There was a word for "the brothers and children in those 
regions where the Church is impeded from using its rights." 
He sent his blessing to them, that they might "feel themselves 
near to us. They have been called to share more closely in the 
cross of Christ which, we are sure, will be followed by the 
radiant dawn of resurrection." 

With a universality of concept and vision, and in the height 
ened tone to be expected of the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope in 
this first address had succeeded in striking a note of immedi 
acy, and had spoken to the world of the world's most urgent 
concerns. All of the issues over which men are at present 
divided and fiercely united were not only touched upon; they 
were placed in their proper relevance in a Christian scheme 
and seen in the light of eternal values, And this enlightenment 
was achieved with a combination of warmth and conciseness 
which men intent on more restricted ends might envy. 

His official charges with the world and with assemblies of 
men momentarily complete on this first day, Pope Paul charac 
teristically turned to concern for individual men. In Milan, on 
the day after he had taken possession of his cathedral, he had 
gone to visit the sick, and the day after his election to the 
Papacy was to be no different. Shortly after three in the after 
noon, the Pope descended into the grottoes under Saint Peter's, 
to pray at the tomb of Pope John. He knelt for a long time, his 
head bowed, his hands clasped. He prayed, too, at the tombs 
of Pius XI and Pius XII, and then, leaving the basilica, went 


to the Hospice of Santa Marta nearby, to greet the aged and 
ailing Archbishop Angelo Rotta, former nuncio in Hungary 
and close friend of Pope John. There was a visit also to Arch 
bishop Josyf Slipyi, primate of the Ukraine who, following his 
release from eighteen years of detention in Siberia, had been 
living in the Vatican. He lay ill, and the Pope spent a few 
moments with the frail little man who had suffered so much 
for his faith. 

The Pope's next visit was to take him outside of Vatican 
City, to the Spanish College, where the cardinal archbishop of 
Toledo, the heavy-set, progressive Enrique Pla y Deniel, was 
sick with influenza. 3 The black papal Mercedes, carrying the 
Pope and Monsignor Macchi, moved through streets filled with 
startled and cheering people, obviously pleased to see the Pope 
so soon among them. At the College, the Pope spent a short 
time with the cardinal, and then greeted the students and the 
other cardinals resident in the College during their sojourn in 
Rome. His first visit outside the Vatican was hailed as a mark 
of the Pope's esteem for Spain, 4 and the proud nation received 
the visit as a compliment, but it was also the simple gesture of 
a man who throughout his life had had a special affection for 

3 Later in the summer (August 11) the New York Times printed a 
short article on Cardinal DenieFs "pastoral exhortation" to the Catho 
lics of Toledo, underlining Pope Paul's concern with labor problems, 
and his pastoral mission in Milan, carried out "in such a way as the 
modern world demands." The account mentioned the likelihood of 
Cardinal Deniel's presiding over a meeting of the Spanish hierarchy 
possibly to discuss, among other things, a draft bill "emancipating" 
Spain's 30,000 Protestants. 

4 In honor of the coronation of Pope Paul, the Spanish govern 
ment issued a decree of amnesty on July 1, which applied to all sen 
tences involving loss of liberty and to all crimes and offences which 
come under the penal code, the special penal laws, and military legis 
lation. In addition, all persons who on the day the decree was issued, 
had served twenty years of effective imprisonment were set free. 


the sick, and whose first visit into the city of which he was 
bishop, as it had been in Milan, was to one who was ill. 

The whirlwind activity of the Pope in his first week seemed 
to substantiate the remark made by his chauffeur in Milan, 
Antonio Mapelli. "He would say to me, 'Hurry, hurry, Anto 
nio! Speed it up if you can, because I am in a hurry. 3 He never 
wanted to arrive late for anything, never!" In that first week he 
began the routine of audiences with his closest associates and 
assistants which are held every day except Sunday. He re 
ceived his Secretary of State, Cardinal Cicognani, every day, 
and began also the so-called di tabella or regular audiences on 
fixed days of the week, with the prefects and secretaries of the 
Roman congregations. 5 There were audiences also on fixed 
days for the heads of the offices and tribunals of the Roman 
Curia, or central administration of the Church. He also insti 
tuted a practice he had begun in Milan of meeting his closest 
collaborators at lunch each Friday so that the problems con 
fronting them could be discussed freely during the meal. 

In this same week, the Cardinal Secretary of State, acting 
in the Pope's name, signed a papal rescript or formal ruling 
setting the opening date of the second session of the Ecumeni 
cal Council as September 29, 1963. The Council coordinating 
committee met to put the finishing touches to the 17 schemata 
to be presented to the Fathers of the Council, and the Council 
press office issued a statement recalling the words of Pope 
Paul the day after his election, that "All men of good will have 
their eyes fixed on the Council." 

His concern with the Church universal as expressed through 
the Council and with world problems did not distract Pope 
Paul from what he, in receiving the 2,500 parish priests of 
Rome called "the first title of Our Mission and of Our author 
ity" his office as Bishop of Rome. "We feel, having spent 
thirty-four years of our priesthood here, that we know the reli- 

5 These can be likened to the ministries of a civil government. 


gious life of Rome, but we know, too, how many are the new 
religious needs of the city, and the practical difficulties of sat 
isfying them. We know the formidable challenges posed to 
pastoral activity by the cosmopolitan character of the city, by 
its urban growth, and the influence of all the currents of 
modern culture and habit. It is to these that we must dedicate 
our primary solicitude." "It is," the Pope added, "Our years in 
Milan which have prepared Us for this pastoral confrontation 
of the sacred ministry with the most characteristic expressions 
of modern life." 

The juxtaposition on the same day of the audience for his 
priests with the audience for the members of the diplomatic 
corps accredited to the Holy See from forty-nine countries, 
highlighted the multifaceted ministry of the Pope. To his 
priests he spoke in Italian; to the diplomats in French. To his 
priests he underscored the challenge of modern life to the pas 
toral ministry in a great and growing city. To the diplomats he 
spoke of the challenge to peace in a world at once grown small 
in its dimensions and large in its conflicts. In his first meeting 
with the corps, the Pope said: "This is almost a family re 
union: a meeting where one finds, after some years' absence, 
friendly faces which bring to life cherished memories. After 
the teachings of our predecessors and we refer particularly 
to the Pacem in Terris encyclical it is hardly necessary for us 
to repeat to you the respect of the Church for the dignity and 
mission of every country in the world, both those distinguished 
by a long historic and cultural past and those which in our 
time have acceded to independence. . . ." He spoke of "true 
peace . . . this incomparable treasure which is unceasingly 
menaced. . . ." 

In his first message to the world, Pope Paul, out of his own 
conviction, and in the spirit of Pacem in Terris, had spoken of 
the needs of newly emergent countries and of the obligation 


of more prosperous and economically developed nations to 
help any country where "the level of life often is not worthy of 
human beings." The phrase "the third world" has been used 
to describe not only Africa but that part of Asia not ruled by 
the Communists, and also, with somewhat different emphasis, 
Latin America. It signifies those parts of the world where 
human misery walks largely unchecked, but where hope is 
beginning to stir and where independence has in part been 
achieved nations which have not yet entered the industrial 
and economically viable society of the twentieth century. Two 
messages which Pope Paul delivered in the first weeks of his 
pontificate revealed that the Papacy under him would have a 
more insistent preoccupation with the conditions of misery 
and need which still afflict large portions of the world. 

The first was addressed to a group of one hundred Nigerian 
Catholics in Rome for his coronation. The Pope had visited 
Nigeria during his African tour, and it was with evident pleas 
ure that he received these first representatives of the conti 
nent which in its Catholic life had impressed him so pro 
foundly. "It is with admiration and joy," he said, "that We 
greet the reawakening of Africa to civil maturity, and in conse 
quence to liberty, to independence and to progress. While We 
recognize the merits of all those who have helped the African 
people to walk the road of civilization, We nourish the hope 
that these people may be able to enjoy the rights proper to 
modern civil society and, fraternally assisted by countries 
economically and culturally more developed, may attain in 
liberty and peace that prosperity which corresponds to their 
common human dignity." 

A part of the third world which lay neglected and exploited 
for centuries and which today smoulders in misery is the vast 
continent of South America, where Catholicism had been the 
religion, in name at least, of all the people for hundreds of 
years. Pope Paul chose his meeting with the Pontifical Com- 


mission for Latin America, 6 dedicated to fostering the socio- 
religious apostolate in one of the most troublous and destitute 
areas in the world, to speak about the Church in that conti 

He assured the members of the commission that the plight 
of the Church in Latin America had been one of the deathbed 
concerns of Pope John XXIII; that, after receiving the last 
rites of the Church, he had spoken of the great work to be 
done there. Again a mark of affinity for John, modulated by 
his own finely sharpened and realistic response to the con 
templation of the widespread distress in Latin American coun 
tries, led him to pronounce a word of praise, which could 
never be mistaken for triumphalism, for the work the commis 
sion had done during the past five years. Thanking Canada 
particularly, because she had immediately sent a number of 
priests and religious into Latin America in answer to the ap 
peal of the commission during the reign of John, he praised 
also the United States which had given personnel and eco 
nomic aid "with its usual generosity." 

He reminded the commission that, although the mission of 
the Church is not specifically social or political, "having 
'compassion on the crowd' in the manner of the Divine Saviour 
is part of the working program of the priest, who will not re 
main indifferent, insensitive or inactive before his brothers 
and sisters who suffer. . . . Thus, social action, properly 
understood, finds its place among the duties of the priest. It 
will be an extension of the priestly ministry, understood in the 
true sense. We are happy to know that Our venerable brothers 
the bishops and Our beloved sons of Latin America have this 
pastoral sensitivity which urges them to care for bodies as well 
as the good of souls, while bearing in mind always the su 
preme end of man." 

6 Founded by Pius XII in the last year of his pontificate, it had 
done most of its work under John XXIIL 


Thus while praising whatever the Church had accomplished 
in the past three hundred years, the Pope injected a note of 
realism which pervades the account of this meeting. Arch 
bishop Miranda, in his address to the Pope on this occasion, 
had quoted Pius XITs title for Latin America, calling it "the 
continent of hope," yet even a cursory glance at this hungry, 
angry continent impresses on the mind that Paul's words con 
cerning the care of bodies as well as the good of souls are key 
words, and that Pius' continent of hope is still dark. It is a 
mark of Christian hope, no doubt, that priests are living with 
and helping the poor in Latin America. It is a confirmation of 
it that Pope Paul emphatically blesses this form of the Church's 
activity. 7 

The audience in which the Pope received the Secretary 
General of the United Nations, U Thant, was noteworthy for 
the tribute which he paid to the United Nations for answering 
the dreams of his predecessors and mirroring the same uni 
versality as the Catholic Church. "The Church," Pope Paul 
said, "considers the United Nations to be the fruit of a civiliza 
tion to which the Catholic religion . . . gave the vital prin- 

7 On the day following, a report from Washington cited Cardinal 
Raul Silva Henriquez of Santiago, Chile, as saying that Pope Paul 
would further develop the "determination of Pope John to use the 
power of the Roman Catholic Church to promote social and eco 
nomic reforms in Latin America. . . . The center of our campaign 
is to hasten the improvement of the living standards of the Latin 
American peoples, while retaining their political and religious free 
dom. If we can prove that ours is an effective solution to poverty and 
ignorance, I am convinced that Communism shall be decisively de 
feated in all our hemisphere." He stressed that the gap separating the 
wealthy from the destitute masses of urban workers and peasants 
"must be urgently closed, for there is no time left." He added that 
if he lived under the conditions that prevailed in most of rural Latin 
America, he "would be a Communist." 


ciples. It considers it an instrument of brotherhood between 
nations which the Holy See had always desired and pro 
moted. . . . 

"The ideologies of those who belong to the United Nations 
are certainly multiple and diverse, and the Catholic Church 
regards them with due attention. But the convergence of so 
many peoples, so many races, so many States in a single or 
ganization intended to avert the evils of war and to favor the 
good things of peace, is a fact which the Holy See considers 
as corresponding to its concept of humanity, and included 
within the area of its spiritual mission in the world." Reverting 
to history, he made reference to the desire of Benedict XV for 
such an organization; its "fundamental criteria traced with 
happy foresight by Pius XII" at Christmas 1939 and in Sep 
tember 1944, and the underlining of its importance and the 
encouragement given it by John XXIII. 

In retrospect it seems that the mind of Paul was able to see 
in this meeting and in the very existence of the United Na 
tions, more penetratingly and more reasonably than many 
Catholic commentators saw fit to remark, the possibility of a 
fruitful cooperation between the Church and the United Na 
tions. An astute observation in the London Tablet, however, 
pointed out an urgent relevance in the meeting: "The words 
addressed to U Thant can be very useful to the Organization, 
for it is in the older and richer countries, most of them with 
large Catholic populations, that there is most impatience, dis 
illusion, and dislike for a body which seems to be chiefly a 
stamping ground for Afro-Asians with one dominant and 
unfriendly idea. . . . Thus the Pope's words may need to be 
remembered when the Vatican Council in its next session 
reaches the schema, specially dear to the heart of Cardinal Sue- 
nens, which covers mundane activities like the work for peace, 
aid for poor countries, the corporal works of mercy on the 
large scale of contemporary international life. There may be 


temptation to think that the Church herself should try to 
create her own agencies, collect her own lay experts, and ask 
them to formulate detailed programmes. . . . But there is 
no need for an expert on disarmament or nutrition to be a 
Catholic. The place of the lay expert is with other lay experts, 
to pursue tasks which, as they are for the benefit of all human 
ity, are properly to be undertaken by men of all faiths." 

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 state 
ments 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 mechan 
isms in which his liberty disappears" were enemies of demo 
cratic progress. "Democracy as supported by the Church is 
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 totali 
tarian," 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." 8 In the 

8 In August of 1963, during the crisis in Vietnam involving Bud 
dhist protests against harshness and intolerance of the government led 
by Roman Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem, the Pope received 41 
Vietnamese students studying in European universities. He urged them 
to discover that unity is the secret of the Church, and that this voca 
tion to unity applies to their nation as to others, "with this essential 
priority: that it does not ignore the rights, the merits, the character- 


same letter he had also spoken of the function of the press in a 
democracy, urging that the people be properly informed, add 
ing 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." 

Americans have, from the beginning, found Pope Paul an 
appealing figure. His two visits to this country, accounts of 
his activities as archbishop of Milan in major news weeklies, 
and his sympathy with John, predisposed Americans to look 
with favor on Cardinal Montini before his election as Pope, 
When he received Cardinal Spellman after his election, he 
spoke of the impression made on him during his 1960 visit 
by the devotion and participation of the faithful in Saint 
Patrick's cathedral, an impression that had inspired him to 
encourage the same devotion and participation in his cathe 
dral in Milan. He praised the works of charity in the United 
States and the Catholic school system, and recalled his visit 
to the New York Foundling Hospital, and the Archbishop 
Stepinac High School in White Plains. 

Early in his pontificate he received four hundred members, 
priests and laymen, of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, who 
had come to Rome for the beatification of John Nepomucene 
Neumann, a bishop of that see in the nineteenth century. The 
ceremony had been cancelled because of the illness of John 
XXIII. Pope Paul promised them that he would proceed with 
it as soon as possible, and spoke to them in English about 
their country, its hospitality and generosity. It was the new 
Pope's first audience to a large group of Americans. 

At about the same time the Holy Father granted a half- 
hour audience to the Richard Nixons and their two daughters. 

istic aspects of the country named; that it does not suffocate the genius 
of the people to which it addresses itself." 


The former Vice-President had sought and received the audi 
ence a few days before President Kennedy's arrival. 

On July 2 the President of the United States and his party 
were welcomed at the Vatican with what many American 
newspapers referred to as "centuries-old ceremony." The Pres 
ident spent forty minutes in private conversation with Pope 
Paul, after which the Pope greeted the official party, including 
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and delivered a formal speech 
of welcome. 

Paul's sense of the rightness of time and his sensitivity to 
the gravity of human distress, wherever found, were clearly 
expressed in this address: "In the discourses of Your Excel 
lency ... we find a spontaneous harmony with that which 
our venerable predecessor, Pope John XXHI, said in his last 
encyclical letter, Pacem in Terris, when he presented anew to 
the world the dignity of the individual human person, a 
dignity which the Almighty bestowed in creating man to his 
own image and likeness. We are ever mindful in our prayers 
of the efforts to insure to all your citizens the equal benefits of 
citizenship, which have as their foundation the equality of 
all men because of their dignity as persons and children of 

The recognizable reference here to integration and the civil 
rights program caused mixed reaction in the United States. 
The New York Times included a gratified comment in an 
editorial: "The message will doubtless have its effect in our 
country. History was made when the two men met. If the 
visit to Italy proved valuable, President Kennedy will have 
Pope Paul to thank." 

The audience concluded with the Pope's extending greet 
ings and blessings to all the members of the President's family, 
and to the citizens of the United States. There was the tradi 
tional exchange of gifts between the two rulers, autographed 
photographs, desk sets, medallions, and, from the Pope to Mr. 


Kennedy, a marble reproduction of Michelangelo's Pieta, the 
original of which is to be sent to the New York World's Fair 
in 1964.' 

On July 17, 1963, the Swiss Bishop Francois Chamere of 
Lausanne-Fribourg-Geneva rose to speak before the leaders 
of the Orthodox Church gathered in Holy Trinity Monastery 
in Zagorsk, about forty miles north of Moscow. Sent by Pope 
Paul VI as his personal representative to the golden jubilee 
celebration of the Patriarch Aleksei, he was the first Roman 
Catholic prelate ever to speak in this holiest shrine of Russian 

The bearded patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches with 
their graceful, draped headdresses, gave deep, meditative at 
tention to the full-faced, spectacled Westerner as he spoke. 
Aleksei, patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, seemed 
to incline his darkly-crowned gray head forward at a more 
eager angle than the others. The moment was historic and the 
words of the bishop, full of grace and conciliation, leaped 
across almost a thousand years of separation. 

". . . In the age when brave pioneers strive to reach the 
heavens in a thrilling adventure of space exploration, we can 
not view our old quarrels from the standpoint of narrow pro 
vincialism ... we must apply the dimensions of the planet. 
We must view these old quarrels from the standpoint of the 
exploration of space, and this perspective will reduce them in 
our own eyes to their proper importance and size." 

Accompanying Bishop Charri&re was the Very Reverend 
Christophe Dumont, O.P., of Paris. The two men had been 
carefully chosen for their ecumenical experience and a natural 

* Pope Paul sent a medallion on a small gold chain of the Madonna 
and Child for Mrs. Kennedy's unborn child. A little more than a 
month later, when the child died, Paul sent a personal message of 
condolence to the Kennedys. 


affinity for the movement by Cardinal Augustin Bea, chair 
man of the Vatican Secretariat to Promote the Unity of Chris 
tians. In Bishop Charriere's diocese the World Council of 
Churches and other international Protestant organizations 
have their headquarters, and Father Dumont is director of 
Istina in Paris, a center which specializes in studies of Eastern 
Orthodoxy. Not since the eleventh century had there been a 
formal and ceremonial relationship between the two 
Churches. Even in the autumn of 1962, when the Russian 
Church had accepted John's unprecedented invitation to send 
observers to Vatican II, the exchange was less direct, less 
specifically religious. But John's invitation had been the forth 
right and disarming overture that was necessary for this more 
precise, dimensional step, this overture to dialogue. "To go 
out to them" had always been the animating principles of the 
priest who is Pope Paul, and now, in the first days of his 
pontificate, he had sent wise men to the East, that the Eastern 
and Western Churches might develop through such en 
counters a relish for brotherhood. But a rapprochement, 
Bishop Charriere felt obliged to point out, could not be 
reached except on these terms: "The foundation can only be 
truth and justice; the climate, freedom; the motive and the 
inspiration, charity and love. This rapprochement cannot be 
directed against anybody." 

The addresses of Bishop Charriere and of Father Dumont 
were reciprocated in speeches of amity expressed by their 
Russian hosts, and the participation by the Vatican in the 
jubilee was acclaimed also by members of the Russian Ortho 
dox Church meeting in Montreal, in July 1963, at the fourth 
World Conference on Faith and Order. Such responses to 
evidence of openness and Christian charity had given the 
Church under John, and now under Paul, a sense of nearness 
to men and institutions, mentally and spiritually distant for 
centuries. The Pope, in this gesture of response to the invita- 


tion of the Russian Orthodox Church, had opened another 
window. In the matter of aperturismo, the words, the world 
noted, were the words of John, but the voice was the voice of 

The Russian Church had sent observers to Vatican Coun 
cil II, but the Greek Orthodox Church had maintained its 
reserve. A little more than a month after the address of Bishop 
Charriere at Holy Trinity Monastery, Pope Paul visited the 
eleventh-century monastery at Grottoferrata, not far from 
Castelgandolfo, where the Eastern rite is followed in the litur 
gical observances. Here he celebrated Mass for the monks 
and then delivered an unprepared address in which he pleaded 
for unity with all Eastern Churches. 

"Does my vision stop here?" he asked, after paying tribute 
to the spiritual ties which bind Western and Eastern Chris 
tianity. "You, yourselves, in your rites invite me to look to 
ward all the Eastern Churches that have the same baptism, 
the same fundamental faith, a valid hierarchy, and sacraments 
full of grace." Referring to the delegation to the jubilee of 
Patriarch Aleksei, he continued: "It was done with the inten 
tion of rendering homage, of showing that there is no reason 
for rivalry for prestige, neither for pride nor ambition nor 
for any desire to perpetuate dissonances and dissidence exist 
ing in the past, but which are now, it seems to me, totally 
anachronistic. Let us seek to render common and solid our 
creed, seek to render articulate and fitting our hierarchical 
union." In praying that Christian unity be achieved, he added, 
"if not in our age, at least in succeeding ages." 

And again the Christian world which seeks to understand 
Paul discovers here a combination of John and Paul: the 
voice of John in the implicit plea that the Greek Church be 
among the observers of Vatican Council II; 10 and Paul in the 

10 The Greek newspaper Ethnos reported in July that the Patriarch 
Athanagoras of Constantinople and the leaders of the Church in 


patient attitude of being willing to wait, to work out the divine 
design by progressive steps. 

In the constellation of qualities which Pope Paul brought 
to the Papacy was his desire to continue the heritage of Pope 
John's willingness to open his heart to men of all faiths and 
of no faith, to men of all political credos, if they came pre 
pared to enter into honest, active dialogue. 11 This was one 
point of the heritage of John left unmentioned in some anal 
yses appearing after the election. After his death, John was 
praised for this willingness in Nedelya, the Sunday supple 
ment of Izvestia, and Paul, after the conclusion of the con 
clave received commendation from the same journal. 

Like John, Paul believes that the West must deal with Com 
munism but the position to him is not doctrinaire. Describ 
ing himself in Milan as "a priest of the workers, yes a priest 
of the Left, no," he went into factories employing hundreds 
of Communist workers, not asking that they cease to be Com 
munists before he spoke to them. He was called "a strong 
proponent of coexistence," yet many observers maintained 
that since the Italian elections in April 1963, when Commu 
nist gains amounted to over one million votes, his attitude as 
archbishop of Milan had stiffened. Paul had been known to 
condemn "selfish" wealth, but in doing so, had not been ac 
cused of compromising with Marxism. In Italy, shortly after 
the conclave, some leftist groups, made anxious by what they 
called his "Christian Democratic background," urged him to 

Greece had agreed not to send observers to the second session of the 
Vatican Council. 

11 Pope John was quoted by Archbishop Roberti, nuncio to the 
Congo, as having said that there had been overtures made by the So 
viets to the Holy See in regard to diplomatic relations. "But he (Khru 
shchev)," the Pope had added, "must first assure us freedom for the 
Church. We are hopeful that this will be done." Archbishop Roberti 
at a memorial convocation at Louvanium University, Leopoldville, 
June 17, in honor of John XXIII. 


avoid "ideological crusades." American newspapers, on the 
other hand, on the eve of President Kennedy's visit, expressed 
the hope that Communism would be an area of discussion. 
And in July, when speaking to an association of Roman 
Catholic workers in Italy, with a directness characteristic of 
Ms Milan days, Pope Paul recommended to Church assistants 
in the association that they study the psychology of the worker, 
thus indicating his awareness that response to workers' un 
rest must make use of more than merely religious means. 
There is often, he said, a contrast between the psychology of 
the worker and the language of the priest which leads to 
difficulty in their understanding one another. 

During the reign of Pope John XXIII, quiet negotiations 
had been begun in order to effect more favorable conditions 
for Catholics in Iron Curtain countries. Shortly after Pope 
Paul's election, the Most Reverend Endre Hamvas, bishop 
of Csanad, acting head of the bench of Hungarian bishops, 12 
in an audience with the Pope reported the Hungarian govern 
ment's desire for the continuation of talks on the relations 
between the Church and State in Hungary. Interviews leading 
to the release of Cardinal Josef Mindszenty were repeatedly 
referred to after Pope Paul's election by "unusually reliable 
sources." Although the negotiations were apparently dropped 
after the illness and death of Pope John, his unbounded 
fraternity seems to have kept them alive until now, and in the 
first period of Paul's pontificate they passed into the more 
delicate and hazardous final stage. 

12 Cardinal Mindszenty, primate of Hungary, whose fate is the most 
sensitive of questions to be discussed between the Vatican and the 
Hungarian government is reported to have asked, in conversation with 
Monsignor Casaroli of the Secretariat of State who visited Budapest 
in May, that he should not be succeeded by Bishop Hamvas, who is 
thought to be close to the "peace priests." (London Tablet, July 20, 
1963, p. 803.) 


In an apostolic letter sent to the Czechoslovak hierarchy 
in connection with the eleven-hundreth anniversary of the 
arrival of SS. Cyril and Methodius in their country, Pope 
Paul expressed the wish that "as soon as possible good news 
about the position of the Church in the Czechoslovak Re 
public might reach the Vatican." 13 Cardinal Wyszynski, pri 
mate of Poland, assured members of the Polish colony in 
Vienna that Paul intended to continue John's policy of im 
proving relations with Iron Curtain countries. Further assur 
ance was discerned in the proposed plan of Cardinal Konig 
of Vienna to visit Czechoslovakia "to explore chances for a 
relaxation of the Czechoslovak government's attitude toward 
the Church, 14 and to revisit Hungary and Cardinal Mind- 
szenty. In midsummer, Deputy Premier Kallai of Hungary 
spoke encouragingly about the possibility of filling the va 
cant episcopal sees in Hungary, while later, Italian sources 
quoted Plojhar, minister of public health in Czechoslovakia, 
as saying that the situation of Archbishop Beran might admit 
of solution, "if the Vatican continues to proceed according 
to the way outlined by Pope John XXm." Marshal Tito of 
Yugoslavia was quoted as saying: "I rtnnV we can improve 
relations with the Vatican." 

TTius it appears that for the Communists the resolution of 
many problems lies essentially in following the program of 
Pope John. The difficulty of doing this over a period of years 
cannot be overestimated. Pope Paul's qualities of ingenuity 
and acumen will be called upon to their deepest fathom by 

13 In Prague, the weekly Katholicky Novtm described Pope Paul as 
one who would continue the "peace-loving line" of Pope John XXIII. 
It was certain, the paper said, that he had taken the name Paul be 
cause he was striving for a lasting and just peace throughout the 

14 Archbishop Beran had been under house arrest in Prague since 


what he knows of the Church in these Eastern European 
countries. This position may be, as one Italian writer sees it, 
subject always to the humor of the government, but the 
politico-religious question "is now at grips with the actuality 
of a Church which enjoys enormous prestige and is considered 
a mediator of world peace." 

The state of relations between the Church and the Com 
munist world in the summer of 1963 seemed to justify the 
hope of Pope John. Denunciation had not been the answer, 
but rather the renewal and strengthening of the Church 
through an infusion of charity and a willingness to speak to 
man of the things of man, if not of the things of God. And 
because life is a sequential existence, the occasions which seek 
and challenge this charity, this openness to encounter, will 
constantly arise and seek recognition. To discern these, to 
meet them, to use them justly this is the towering task of 
Pope Paul VI. 

It is a truism to say that a man's life centers around his con 
flicts. Yet the conflicts of the successor to Peter tend to be 
come submerged, not only before the public, the press, and 
the faithful they become submerged within the man him 
self. Without ceasing to be, as all men are, both the arena and 
the protagonist of psychic struggles, the man who is the 
Vicar of Christ, especially in modern times, begins to take on 
dimensions commensurate with the Body of Christ. He may 
suffer cosmic agony. He risks universal obloquy. The corners 
of his cross knock at the poles; he is stretched taut, with the 
protective contraction which all men learn, both willingly 
forgone and denied him by the reaches of his commitment. 
His new selfhood becomes such that it absorbs his former 
self, so that he may, in an odd moment of leisure, regard it 
quizzically and with affection, touched by its former isolation, 
but feeling its deep consanguinity with all men. Small men 


have been Popes, and have remained small. Were Paul VTs 
dimensions less than they are, however, it would be impos 
sible for him in today's world not to grow beyond accustomed 
limits in a way which he himself might at one time have 
thought impossible. 

Even on the level of his assessable dealings with men and 
his thoughts about them, the present Pope has been called a 
global thinker. In his diplomatic relations, in his writing, in his 
pastoral activity, he has never been "European" in the sense of 
Charles de Gaulle. The native turn of his mind has always been 
one in which the words of Pacem in Terris would find quick 
understanding: "One cannot overlook the fact that even though 
human beings differ from one another by virtue of their ethnic 
peculiarities, they all possess certain essential common ele 
ments, and are inclined by nature to meet each other in the 
world of spiritual values, whose progressive assimilation opens 
to them the possibility of perfection without limits. They have 
the right and duty therefore to live in communion with one 
another." Paul's interest in coming to the United States and 
Canada, in visiting South America and Africa, does not mean 
that he has something in him to which the peculiar quality of 
Americans (or Latin American, or Africans) appeals almost 
by reflex (as has been hinted by Americans writing about the 
new Pope). It means that rather he sees these continents as 
the places of man. 

Paul's great challenge will be the study of unity, and teach 
ing of unity, the apostolate of unity and ecumenism. His 
early announcement of the date of the reconvening of Vatican 
Council n and his declared dedication to the Council indicate 
this. 15 As archbishop of Milan he was once quoted as saying: 

15 One week before the Council's second session began, Pope Paul 
announced plans for reorganizing the structure of the Roman Curia, in- 


"The truth is that the world's inability to achieve a unity of 
thought and to end spiritual divisions is the real reason why 
society is so deeply unhappy, so poor in ideas and enthusi 
asm, and so lacking the shared spiritual concepts which are its 
own inner joy, nobility and strength." 

There are personal marks about this man which are noted 
with surprise and delight, even in reading of them, by those 
who are in the habit of seeing the Pope as rather a symbol 
than a man. Much that he did during the first days of his 
pontificate reveals the person. Certain semiofficial acts also 
show how his personality shapes his public gestures. He wrote 
a letter in his own hand to two Protestant ministers who 
wished him well in his pontificate. He celebrated Mass in the 
Ambrosian rite on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul for pil 
grims from Milan who brought him the tiara to be used in 
his coronation the first Pope ever to celebrate Mass in this 
rite. On September 8 he twice offered Mass for the people and 
in their midst at Genzano and Pavona becoming the first 
Pope in modern history, at least, to celebrate two Masses on a 

He said Mass for the townspeople in Castelgandolfo in 
the local church of Saint Nicolas on August 15 and urged 
them in a homily on the feast not to forget in their prayers 
those whom suffering prevented from enjoying the beautiful 
summer holiday weather. His acceptance of a miner's lamp 
from Belgian miners who felt a special fraternity with this 
priest of the workers; his special appeal for the prayers of 
pilgrims, beyond his personal messages of sympathy and gifts 
of money for the victims of the earthquake in Skopje, Yugo 
slavia; his instruction to UOsservatore Romano and Acta 
Apostolicae Sedis to drop grandiloquent titles and refer to him 

eluding its internationalization. (Confer appendix for excerpts of his 


simply as "Holy Father" all these are more than the indis 
criminate minutiae that go to fill the many moments in a 
Pontiff's life. They constitute a medium by which a many- 
faceted man becomes known to his people. He may, as some 
writers have put it, have a subtle mind, and a strong hand. 
The hand, however, is fine and sensitive, and the mind is on 
good terms with the heart. 

These things will reveal him personally more effectively at 
the beginning of his pontificate than any effort to make a 
thorough study of his official acts. It is because we are in a 
life of Christian hope, especially in the present age of the 
world, that an account of him can be only an essay. The 
charity which this Father to his people deserves is the effort 
to look on the prospect of his pontificate with his own eyes. It 
is likely that Paul will estimate his own acts in the light of the 
priesthood which has shaped his life and his opinions. If 
there is a priestly type, even his physical appearance places 
him in this category. Tall, thin, with an unusually high fore 
head, he has penetrating gray-blue eyes under bushy brows, 
a large straight nose, and two vertical lines in his brow which 
add another note of individuality and reserve to a face which 
is strongly handsome. It is a mobile face, capable of multiple 
shades of human expression and arresting expressiveness. 
And the man who looks from it on the world is also flexible, 
reserved, resilient and firm. 

The direction of his power he himself has expressed in 
speaking of Christianity: "The Christian message is not a 
prophecy of condemnation. It calls to penance in order to 
call to salvation. It is not bitter; it is not ill-tempered; it is 
not discourteous; it is not ironic; it is not pessimistic. It is 
generous. It is strong and joyful. It is full of beauty and 
poetry. It is full of vigor and majesty. Indeed, it raises the 
Cross: suffering, sacrifice, death, but only to bring comfort, 
redemption, and life." 


The following are excerpts from Pope Paul VI's address to the Ro 
man Curia on September 21, 1963. 

. . . the Roman Curia is the instrument of which the Pope has need, 
which the Pope uses to undertake his divine mandate. Its function calls 
for high capabilities and virtues, because its office is high. 

As everyone knows, this old and complex body in its most recent re 
ordering dates back to Pope Sixtus V's famous constitution Immensa 
Aeterni Dei of 1588. St. Pius X gave it new life with his constitution 
Sapienti Consilio in 1908, and the Code of Canon Law in 1917 substan 
tially made its architecture. Many years have passed: It is understanda 
ble that such ordering has been aggravated by its venerable old age, as 
is shown again by the disparity of its organs and practices to the needs 
of new times and usages of new times, and as it shows at the same time 
the need to be simplified, decentralized, to enlarge itself and adapt itself 
to new functions. 

Various reforms are therefore necessary. They will certainly be pon 
dered, set in motion according to venerated and reasonable traditions, 
on one hand, and according to the needs of the times, on the other. 
And they will certainly be functional and beneficial, because they will 
have no other aim than that of allowing to fall that which is already 
perishing and superfluous, in the forms and norms which regulate the 
Roman Curia, and to put in being that which is vital and provident for 
its more efficacious and appropriate functioning. They will be formu 
lated and promulgated by the Curia itself! 

The Roman Curia will not be frightened, for example, to be recruited 
with larger supranatural vision, nor to be educated by a more careful 
ecumenical preparation. 

The Roman Curia will not be jealous of temporal prerogatives be 
longing to other times nor of external forms no longer fitted to express 
and impress true and high religious meaning. It will not be miserly of 
functions that bishops can today exercise better themselves locally with 
out injuring universal ecclesiastical order. Neither will economic aims 
or advantages ever have any weight in suggesting some reserve or some 
centralization on the part of the Holy See's organs, if this is demanded 
by the good of ecclesiastical administration and the welfare of souls. 

It is the sacred norm of the departments of the Roman Curia to ques 
tion the bishops and weigh their judgments in dealing with affairs. 



Among the consultors of the sacred congregations, there figure not 
a few bishops, coming from various regions. 

And we will say more: If the Ecumenical Council wishes to see some 
representatives of the episcopacy, particularly bishops heading dioceses, 
associated hi some way and for some questions in conformity with the 
doctrine of the Church and canon law, with the supreme head of the 
Church, in the study and responsibility of ecclesiastical government, it 
will certainly not be the Roman Curia that will oppose the suggestion. 
On the contrary, it will feel a growing in the honor and burden of its 
sublime and indispensable service which is, as we know well, specifi 
cally administrative, consultative and executive, apart from the due 
procedure of the ecclesiastical tribunals both in the Roman Curia and 
in the dioceses. The Roman Curia, yet again, will thus feel even more 
strongly its vocation to give an example to the whole Church and to the 
secular world. 

The Roman Curia is not an anonymous body, insensible to the great 
spiritual problems, that automatically dictates laws, but a live body 
faithful and docile to the head of the Church, a body made of grave 
responsibilities and functions, and imbued with reverence and solicitude 
to those prelates who "spiritus sanctus posuit episcopos regere ecclesiam 

Therefore let the Roman Curia not be a bureaucracy, as some have 
wrongly judged it, pretentious and apathetic, legalistic and ritualistic, a 
fighting ground of hidden ambitions and deaf antagonisms, as others 
accuse it of being. But let it be a true community of faith and charity, 
of prayer and action, of brothers and sons of the Pope, who do all to 
serve him, with a sense of collaboration, in his duty to the brothers and 
sons of the universal Church and all the world. 

We know that our wish expresses yours, sincere and good, and that 
it is this wish that hi us and in you makes prayer, so that our Lord 
Christ, with the intercession of the most Holy Mary and the holy apos 
tles Peter and Paul, will cause this old and ever new Roman Curia to 
shine like a lantern "ut luceat omnibus qui in domo sunt in domo," that 
is, in the Church of God! 


Africa, 135-37; Cardinal Mon- 
tini's impressions of, 136-37; 
Pope Paul on, 216 
Agagianian, Cardinal, 176, 181 
Ambrosian Social Institute, 106 
Art: Cardinal Montini on, 133 
Association of Catholic Italian 

Workers, 107 

Association of Catholic Univer 
sity Graduates, 44 
Association of Christian Workers 


Atheism: Archbishop Montini on, 

Bea, Cardinal, 175, 177 

Benedict XV, Pope, 3, 4, 25-27, 

Berlin, 56 

Bishops, role of: Cardinal Mon 
tini on, 162-63. See also Colle- 

Boston, 135 

Brazil, 135 

Brescia, city of, 1 ff 

Budapest, 50-51 

Bulgaria, 128 

Canada: visit by Msgr. Montini, 

Canon law, reform of: Pope Paul 

on, 211 

Canterbury, archbishop of, 160 
Carroll, Msgr. Walter S., 75 
Castro, Fidel, 160 

Catholic Action, 3, 5, 33 
Catholic Centre Party, 47 
Catholic Electoral Union of Italy, 


Catholic University of Milan, 108 
Cesare Arici Institute, 11-14, 16, 


Chicago, 75, 135 
Christian Democratic Party, 5, 

43, 73, 139 
Christian unity: Cardinal Montini 

on, 148; Pope Paul on, 225 
Cicognani, Amleto Cardinal, 75, 

128, 177,181,208,214 
College of Cardinals, 127, 171 ff 
Collegiality of bishops: Cardinal 

Montini on, 144-45 
Communism, 205, 226-29 
Communist Party: in Italy, 73, 

96; in Milan, 88, 96-98, 100- 

101, 107,116 
Concesio, village of, 1, 9, 10, 17, 

Conclave after death of Pope 

John XXIII, 159 ff 
Congar, Yves, 132, 206 
Coronation of Pope Paul VI, 198- 

203; coronation speech, 201- 


Cuba, 160 
Cushing, Richard Cardinal, 128, 

135, 175, 177, 186 

Delp, Alfred, 59-60, 94 
Democracy: Pope Paul on, 220- 




Der Stellvertreter, 57-59; Cardi 
nal Montini on, 61-64 

Diplomacy, papal: Msgr. Mon 
tini on, 29-32 

Diplomatic corps, 81; addressed 
by Msgr. Montini, 81-82 

Eastern Europe, Church in, 71-72 
Ecumenical Council. See Vatican 

Council II 
Education, Catholic: Archbishop 

Montini on, 124-26 
Eisenhower, President, 133-34 
Englehard, Charles W., Jr., 199 
Eucharistic Congress, Budapest, 


Fascism, 4-5, 25, 27, 34-35, 38- 

40, 73, 205 

Fascist University Youth, 36, 40 
Federation of Italian Catholic 
University Students, 34-40, 42- 
43; Cardinal Montini on, 43 
Finkelstein, Rabbi Louis, 199 
FIosFlorum, 181 
Franco, Generalissimo, 54; Car 
dinal Montini telegram to, 141 
Free Federation of Labor, 108 
Frings, Cardinal, 56, 178, 181 
FUCI. See Federation of Italian 
Catholic University Students 

Hitler, 47, 56, 59 
Hughes, Philip, 118 

// Cittadino, 5-6, 41 

Introduction to the Study of 

Christ, 44 
Ireland, 76 
Italian Federation of Church 

Schools, 124 

Jewish refugees, 54-55 

John XXIII, Pope, vii, 19, 52, 137, 
141, 150, 224; and Vatican 
Council, 141 ff; death of, 154 ff; 
evaluation of reign of, 164 ff; 
creation of cardinals by, 171- 
175; Cardinal Montini on, 148- 
149, 157-58, 161; Pope Paul on, 

Johnson, Lyndon B., 161 

Journalism: Pope Paul VI on, 7, 

Journet, Charles, 132 

Kennedy, President, 155, 197, 

199, 222-23 
Khrushchev, Nikita, 160, 180, 

Konig, Franz Cardinal, 129, 174, 

175, 177, 180, 228 

Gaggia, Bishop Giacinto, 19-23 
General Confederation of Work 
ers, 107 

Germany, 55-60 
Ghana, 136 

Greek Orthodox Church, 225-26 
GUF. See Fascist University 

Labor: Archbishop Montini on, 
99-100. See also Workers 

LaSapienza, 37-38 

Lateran Treaty, 27, 39 

Latin America: Pope Paul on, 

Lercaro, Giacomo Cardinal, 116- 
117, 178, 180-81 



Liceo Arnaldo da Brescia, 16, 18 
Liturgical movement: Archbishop 

Montini, 106 
Lombard College, 24-25 

Macchi, Msgr., 130, 136, 164, 

Mclntyre, Cardinal, 186 

Malachy of Armagh, papal proph 
ecies of , 181-82 

Management: Archbishop Mon 
tini on, 103-104 

Mann, Thomas, 35, 132 

Mansfield, Senator Mike, 199 

Marian Year, 1953, 74 

Maritain, Jacques, 35, 132 

Marxism: Archbishop Montini on, 

Milan, ix, 8, 80, 86 ff; Great Mis 
sion of , 11311 

Mindszenty, Josef Cardinal, 71, 
168, 227-28 

Montini, Francesco, 8, 163, 208 

Montini, Giorgio, father of Pope 
Paul, viii, 2-10, 15, 17, 19, 21, 

Montini, Giuditta Alghisi, mother 
of Pope Paul, viii, 2, 8-10, 17, 

Montini, Ludovico, 8, 40, 85, 
163, 208 

Montini, Vittorio, 9 

Mooney, Cardinal, 75 

Mussolini, 4, 25, 40, 47, 67 

National Catholic Welfare Con 
ference, 75 

Nazism, 27, 57, 205 

Negro Catholics, 75 

New York City, 133, 135 

New York Herald Tribune, 162, 

New York Times, 75, 97-98, 163, 


Nigeria, 135 
Nixon, Richard, 222 
Notre Dame University, 133-35; 

citation of Cardinal Montini, 

Nuclear test ban treaty: Pope 

Paul on, 207 

O'Hara, John Cardinal, 75, 128 
Osborne, Sir D'Arcy, 57, 64 
Osservatore Romano, 67, 109, 

117, 133, 143, 155, 190, 198, 

Ottaviani, Alfredo Cardinal, 159, 

175, 177,189,194-95,201 
Overseas College, Milan, 126 

Pacelli, Cardinal Eugenio, 48-49, 

50-51. See also Pius XJI 
Peace: Cardinal Montini on, 157; 

Pope Paul on, 21 1-12, 215 
Persico, Father, 16-17 
Pirelli factory, 103 
Pius IX, Pope, 3 
Pius X, Pope, 48 
Pius XI, Pope, 27, 32-33, 36-41, 

Pius XII, Pope, viii-ix, 49 ff, 65- 

71, 76 ff, 85, 92, 120, 127, 132; 

Cardinal Montini on, 61-64 
Pizzardo, Giuseppe Cardinal, 28, 

Pontifical Academy of Noble Ec 
clesiastics, 28-32, 35 
Pontifical Gregorian University, 4, 

Pope, divine rights of: Cardinal 

Montini on, 145 
Priesthood: Archbishop Montini 

on, 122 



Priest-worker movement, 73, 139; 
Cardinal Montini on, 73 

Randall, Sir Alec, 48, 70 
Reform of the Church: Cardinal 

Montini on, 145-47 
Rhodesia, 135 
Ricketts, Cardinal, 175 
Ritter, Cardinal, 75, 175, 186 
Roman Question, 26-28, 36, 48 
Roncalli, Angelo, 127. See John 


Roosevelt, Franklin D., 65-67 
Rugambwa, Cardinal, 172 
Russian Orthodox Church, 161, 

Saint Laurent, 75 

Secretariat of State, 32, 41, 47 ff 

Sesto San Giovanni, 94, 97, 104 

Social Progress: Archbishop Mon 
tini on, 105, 106 

South Africa, 135 

Spain, 213; Spanish Foreign Of 
fice, 141 

Spellman, Francis Cardinal, 72, 
76, 135, 161, 178, 181 

Stritch, Cardinal, 75 

Suenens, Cardinal, 150-51, 175, 
178, 180 

Tardini, Cardinal, 65, 68, 78, 128, 


Taylor, Myron, 65 
Tisserant, Eugene Cardinal, 83, 

159, 161, 168, 176, 189, 194, 

209 ff 
Trent, Council of, 118; Cardinal 

Montini on, 145 
Turkey, 128 

United Nations, 160, 178; Pope 

Paul on, 218-19 

United States, 221-22; visit by 
Msgr. Montini, 74; visits by 
Cardinal Montini, 133, 161 
University, the: Cardinal Mon 
tini on, 134 

University Conscience, A, 44 
Urbani, Cardinal, 176, 181, 188 
U Thant, visit to Pope Paul, 218- 

Vatican Council, First, 162 
Vatican Council II, 139 ff; Cardi 
nal Montini on, 142 ff; Pope 
Paul on, 210-11 
Vatican Radio, 53, 117 
Verolovecchia, 8, 10, 15, 17 

Ward, Barbara, 166-67 

Warren, Earl, 199 

Warsaw, 32 ff 

Way of Christ, The, 44 

Washington, D. C, 75, 135 

Women's Italian Center (CIF), 

Workers: Archbishop Montini on, 

94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 102-103, 

106; Pope Paul on, 227. See 

also Labor 
World Conference on Faith and 

Order, 224 
Writing: Cardinal Montini on, 

Wyszynski, Cardinal, 161, 177, 


Youth: Archbishop Montini to, 
117, 126