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PAUL VI/ Albacete: His death on the day of the Transfiguration of Christ

August 6: the solemnity of the Transfiguration of Christ, the anniversary of the bomb at Hiroshima and of the death of Paul VI. Three different kinds of light. By LORENZO ALBACETE

Pope Paul VI and Card. Ratzinger (Infophoto) Pope Paul VI and Card. Ratzinger (Infophoto)

Yesterday was a very important anniversary for me. It is centered around the person of Pope Paul VI. On August 1968 we were both in Bogota, Colombia. I was there because my brother, a travel agent, convinced me that this would be a fun little vacation (Seeing the Pope a fun vacation!!!... It shows how devious he was convincing people to buy a ticket.)

The Pope was there to bless the new building of the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM) and attend their meeting, the meeting that launched the often bitter debate about how to understand Christian liberation.

(Today, in a much more peaceful way, the discussion continues, and whoever wishes to understand well the teachings of Pope Francis, should be familiar with the current discussion. The most recent document of the CELAM, practically serving as Francis' pastoral Bible, is the CELAM document at the closing of the the most recent encounter between the bishops and Pope Francis at Aparecida , Brazil.)

In any case, I attended one of the public Masses of the Pope and, helped by a priest Pastor of the new parish where I was staying, I dressed up as a priest and went up to the altar with the ones chosen for this. I did not distribute Communion and hung around the altar area and, after some smart maneuvers, I ended up meeting the Pope. I had to confess that I was not a priest, just faking it so as to get close to him and touch him and he said: "Why don't you become a priest?"

August 6 is the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic Bomb at Hiroshima , Japan. It is also the day the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Transfiguration of Christ.

Can you see the relation between these three events?

All the three help us recognize three different kinds of "Light of the world." One, the light of the atomic explosion that destroyed so many bodies, poisoned nature, and reduced to nothing many of the fruits of human creativity and labor.

The second light is the light of Christ. A light that illumines all living in the darkness of pain, poverty, remorse and injustice. The Light of Christ makes all things beautiful, including the fruits of human creativity. It makes reality attractive, as Peter said:"Lord, it is good to be here."

The third light comes from the successor of Peter, who for the last 2000 years has been forced to remind us that nature is good, that the human body is beautiful, that, totally against what it says in the cover article of Time Magazine this week, children are a grace, not a curse, all of this was taught in Humanae Vitae one month before Paul VI came to Colombia where he was hailed as the author of the document that defended the poor from the pharmaceutical empire and the power of the rich nations whose citizens demand to be "happy."

Paul VI, defender of the poor, died on August 6 , 1978.

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