Pontiff Says History Proving Worth of Paul VI

Letter Marks 30th Anniversary of His Death

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 11, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The importance of Pope Paul VI's pontificate for the Church and the world is ever more apparent as the years go by, says his current successor, Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this in a letter, made public by the Holy See on Monday, addressed to Bishop Luciano Monari of Brescia, Italy, the diocese where Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Paul VI) was born. The letter marked the 30th anniversary of Paul VI's death.

"With the passage of time, the importance of Paul VI's pontificate for the Church and the world is becoming increasingly evident," Benedict XVI affirmed.

He called "invaluable" the legacy of the "magisterium and virtues he left to believers and to the whole of humanity."

The Holy Father noted that Paul VI faced a difficult historical period, which he said was "marked by not a few challenges and problems," especially during the Second Vatican Council and following years.

Benedict XVI also mentioned his predecessor's "missionary ardor," which "led him to undertake apostolic journeys even to far away nations, and to carry out gestures of high ecclesial, missionary and ecumenical value."

The German Pontiff recalled personal experiences of his predecessor, noting that it was Paul VI who named him archbishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated him to the status of cardinal.

"Thirty years have passed since that Aug. 6 of 1978, when Pope Paul VI's life was extinguished in the summer residence of Castel Gandolfo," noted the Holy Father. "It was the night of the day in which the Church celebrates the luminous mystery of the transfiguration of Christ."

In remembering his predecessor's death, Benedict XVI thanked God for "having given the Church a pastor and faithful witness of Christ the Lord, so sincerely and profoundly in love with the Church and so close to the hopes and expectations of the people of his time."

"I hope," he added, "that every member of the People of God will be able to honor his memory with a commitment to a sincere and constant search for truth."