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Pope John Paul II remembers his predecessor's 'difficult years'

John Paul II on Sunday recalled Pope Paul VI as a witness of Christ in difficult times for the Church.

At his midday Angelus address at his Castel Gandolfo summer residence, the Holy Father noted that Paul VI died on 6 August 1978, on the day the Church celebrates the feast of the Lord's transfiguration.

For that occasion, Paul VI had written an address, which he never read. But John Paul II read from it on Sunday: "The transfiguration of the Lord throws a dazzling light on our daily life and makes us turn our mind to the immortal destiny which that fact itself foreshadows."

"Two thousand years later, the Church repeats with unaltered vigor that Christ is the light of the world!" the Pope exclaimed, summarising the message Christ gave to his apostles in his transfiguration on Mount Tabor.

This proclamation "tempered" the "whole life of Paul VI," John Paul II added. Indeed, Paul VI "gave faithful witness to Christ in complex and difficult years."

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini was elected Pope 1963 and presided over the closing of the Second Vatican Council in December 1965. Afterward, Paul VI had to lead the renewal of the Church in light of the conciliar teachings. The ensuing years were turbulent both inside and outside the Church. It was the time of the Vietnam War and the 1968 student protests. The Church suffered an acute crisis of vocations, and thousands of priests and religious abandoned their ministry.

Writings of Paul VI
Memories of Paul VI