In my heart, I maintain a very special category of person. I call these people “Popes I Would Like to Have a Beer With.” I’ve already written about one of them, Pius XI.
But while I am charmed by the blustery, scholarly Pius, I feel a deeper kinship–indeed a brotherhood–with Paul VI, one of the two Vatican II popes. His life and mine have followed parallel tracks.
We were both extremely shy kids who talked like we had swallowed the dictionary. We both came to prefer cats to dogs, to loathe the telephone, and to have the same bad knee (the right one). We would both feel caught in some way between “new church” and “old church.”
In our youth, we both edited student publications. (Mine was called The Megaphone. His was called The Slingshot.) We both puzzled over whether to pursue a journalistic vocation or some sort of religious one. We both struggled with major decisions, period. How do you explain to people not just all the things that can go wrong, but your ability to see all of them at once? I know what it’s like. So did he.
Suffice it to say he is somebody I think about a lot. And now I will think about him even more. Pope Francis recently announced his intent to beatify Paul VI–make him a “blessed,” one step below saint–on October 19, 2014, exactly one week before my thirty-first birthday. Continue reading