Pope Paul VI has been beatified by Pope Francis on the last day of the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
This year’s synod of the Catholic Church has ended in clinches over how to minister to gay people or whether to give Holy Communion to Catholics who have divorced and remarried.
Paul VI, who was pontiff from 1963 until his death in 1978, had faced similar pressures during the advent of free love, when the church came out against birth control. Pope Paul VI based the decision on Catholic teachings on marriage.
But the church is honoring other aspects of his work, highlighting his efforts to spread social justice and minister to the poor, topics Pope Francis also carries on his banner.
Paul VI is also known for having pioneered papal world visits, traveling to Africa, Latin America and Asia. He was the first pope to visit five continents, the Vatican has said.
He was also the first pope to visit the Holy Land since St. Peter, the Catholic News Service said.
A trip to the Philippines in 1970 could have cost him his life, but it also provided one of the two necessary precursors for his beatification, a relic.
When he was attacked by a man with a bayonet in Manila, two vests he was wearing were stained with blood, according to historian John-Peter Pham. One of the vests was brought to the beatification in a reliquary.
The second precursor required for beatification is a miracle. Pope Paul VI’s involves an unborn child in California, Vatican Radio said.
A doctor advised a pregnant woman to abort her child because of danger to her life and his, but she refused and instead had a nun pray for her using a photo of Pope Paul, CNS reported. The child was born healthy.
The announcement of Pope Paul VI’s beatification came in May, two weeks after Pope Francis canonized two other predecessors, John XXIII and John Paul II, allowing them to ascend to sainthood.
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