sums up something of the mind of Pope Paul VI, who celebrates his seventy fourth birthday on Sunday, September 26.
obstacle on the road to ecumenism" (to the secretariat for Christian Unity, 28th April I967)? Any officeholder in the Church knows that his task is to serve and focus unity, and yet he is likely to become the centre of controversy, whatever he does. Non-office holders can take sides, plead causes. be cheerfully partisan, boast of non sitting on fences. But office-holders must have the solicitude for all.
These general difficulties are raised to the nth degree when one is speaking of the Pope. He rolls so many offices into one. He can be seen as Bishop of Rome. Primate of Italy, Patriach of the West, Pope of the Church Universal. It is almost as if U Thant were culminatively and simultaneously Mayor of New York, President of the United States and Secretary General to the United Nations. How could anyone bear that burden without being crushed?
Clearly, ecclesiastical ambition is human folly. No one with any worldly wisdom would seek out high office. Any cowardly man would prefer the freedom of the free-lance or the irresponsibility of the commentator. Yet the service must be undertaken. And it can only be undertaken in great faith, hope and charity. Here, no longer Archbishop Montini, is Pope Paul VI speaking: "Hope is our guide. prayer is our strength, charity our method in the service of divine truth which is our faith and salvation."