Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Pope Paul VI reigned as Pope from 1963 to 1978. Born as Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini on September 26, 1897, he was often sick as a child. After graduating from the seminary, one of first tasks he was given was to start an information exchange involving prisoners of war. That office produced more than 11 million answers involving missing people. He also started a place for political refugees to find shelter and food.
After working his way up through the Roman Church, becoming an archbishop and a cardinal, Montini became pope on June 21, 1963, taking the name of Paul VI. Some of his first tasks as pope - along with his Vatican Council - were related to making sure that church language was friendly and open to everyone.
In March of 1978, Montini lost a good friend to a political enemy group, the Red Brigade. Even after Montini himself begged for his friend’s release, the group executed their captive. From this moment on, Montini’s health began declining. On August 6, 1978, Pope Paul IV had a massive heart attack and passed away.
Pope Paul IV tended to try to stick to the middle ground in discussions, which drew him criticism from both sides. One thing that some didn’t agree with was his refusal to excommunicate. He allowed things that past popes wouldn’t - for instance, he allowed his staff to have differing views from him. Some openly disagreed with the pope, which hurt the pope deeply. Overall, his middle-ground stance made him look wishy-washy in decision-making.