On this day, the Feast of the Transfiguration, in 1978, Pope Paul VI went to his eternal reward. I remain convinced that Montini's was the great pontificate of the last half of the twentieth century, laying all the theological groundwork that would come to fruition in later pontificates, keeping the Church together in the post-conciliar years, and navigating the challenges the Second Vatican Council set for the Church. On the day he died, I was bereft. He was the only pope I had ever known. The next day, I had that strange sense that something was not right when, in the canon of the Mass, we did not pray for "Paul, our pope." Something was missing. The Church without a pope is like a child without a parent. And Montini was one of the best parents we have ever had. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
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