La Pira’s meeting with Giovanni Battista Montini (1897-1978) dates to the early 1930s. Monsignor Montini was the Assistant Ecclesiastic of the Federation of Italian Catholic Universities (FUCI), while also working in the department of the Secretary of State where he later became delegate for Ordinary affairs in 1937 (Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was then Secretary of State).
Montini’s initiatives to train young Catholic intellectuals for important posts of responsibility when fascism would fall are well-known.
Friendship with La Pira grew from strength to strength – indeed it was Mons. Montini himself who took La Pira into his own home when La Pira was obliged to leave Florence because he was wanted by the Fascist police.
Montini became Archbishop of Milan in 1955 and was appointed Cardinal in 1958 in the first consistory of John XXIII. Very active in the preparatory phases of the Council, his first message on election to the pontificate in June 1963 stated that his principal task would be to continue and conclude the Council that his predecessor had begun.
La Pira wrote to Paul VI often, sometimes more than once a week. The La Pira Foundation Archive possesses copies of almost 1,000 letters sent to the Pope
A publication of a selection of these is one of the Foundation’s future projects.
Here you can find abstracts of some letters:
§ A long-standing friendship (1963)
§ The future of centre left (1963)
§ An ecumenical initiative (1963)
§ The conclusion of the Council (1969)