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Pope Francis Beatifies Pope Paul VI at Synod on the Family

October 20, 2014 — The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family culminated on Oct. 19 when Pope Francis beatified Pope Paul VI, who led the church from 1963 to 1978, during the closing Mass.  Pope Francis praised the late pope as the “great helmsman” of the Second Vatican Council and founder of the synod, as well as a “humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church.”

The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter's Square at a Mass for more than 30,000 people. “When we look to this great pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks,” the pope said, drawing applause from the congregation, which included retired Pope Benedict, whom Blessed Paul made a cardinal in 1977.

Pope Francis signed a decree in May 2014 recognizing a miracle of a child born in California in the 1990s, attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul. Both the lives of the mother and baby were at risk, and doctors advised terminating the pregnancy. Instead the mother sought the intercession of Pope Paul, and the baby was born healthy.

Pope Paul's connection with the themes raised at the bishops’ synod on the family include the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” for which he is most known and that focuses on Catholic teaching on the beauty and purpose of marriage, married love and procreation.  Looking back on the two-week family synod during the Mass, Pope Francis called it a “great experience,” whose members had “felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the church.”

The synod included a number of Jesuit attendees: Father General Adolfo Nicolás; Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office; Monsignor Ján Babiak, Archbishop of Prešov, Slovakia, for Catholics of Byzantine rite; Father François-Xavier Dumortier, Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; Father Antonio Spadaro, Editor of La Civiltà Cattolica; Father George Henri Ruyssen, of the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome; and Father Bernd Hagenkord of Vatican Radio.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in the northern Italian province of Brescia, Pope Paul VI was ordained to the priesthood in 1920 and named archbishop of Milan in 1954. Elected pope in 1963, he reconvened the Second Vatican Council when his predecessor St. John XXIII died, presided over its final three sessions and oversaw the promulgation of all of the council's documents. He also led the process of implementing the council's reforms.

Pope Paul VI was the first pope in the modern area to travel widely, including visits to Jordan, Israel,  India, the United States, Uganda, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He died at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo on Aug. 6, 1978. [Source: Catholic News Service]





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