Vatican signals Pope Paul VI to be made a saint

Late pontiff best known for endorsing church’s prohibition on artificial birth control

Pope Paul VI in Sydney, Australia, to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s discovery of the continent, during the official papal visit in 1970. Photograph: Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Pope Paul VI in Sydney, Australia, to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s discovery of the continent, during the official papal visit in 1970. Photograph: Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty Images

 

The late pontiff Paul VI will be made a saint this year, Pope Francis has decided.

Pope Paul VI led the Catholic Church in the 1960s and 1970s during one of its most turbulent modern periods and enshrined its opposition to contraception.

Pope Francis made the announcement on Thursday at a private meeting with Rome priests. The Vatican issued the transcript of the conversation on Saturday.

When he made the announcement on Thursday, Pope Francis joked that he and former pontiff Benedict, who resigned in 2013 and is now 90 years old, “are on the waiting list”.

Pope Paul became pope in 1963 after the death of Pope John XXIII. He guided the Church through the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, which had started under his predecessor, and the implementation of its modernising reforms. He died in 1978.

Pope Paul VI blesses thousands of Pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal Apartments, September 10th. Photograph: United Press International
Pope Paul VI blesses thousands of Pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal Apartments, September 10th. Photograph: United Press International

Pope Paul headed the church through the 1960s when many priests left religious orders and vocations to the religious life fell sharply in the turbulent era of social change.

Pope Paul is perhaps best known for his controversial encyclical Humane Vitae (On Human Life), which enshrined the church’s ban on artificial birth control in 1968.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897, Paul spent much of his career in the Vatican’s diplomatic service before becoming cardinal of Milan.

He was beatified in 2014 after a first miracle was attributed to him. And earlier this month, a Vatican theological and medical commission approved a second miracle attributed to him.

The church teaches that God performs miracles, but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them.

Pope Paul will become the third pontiff that Pope Francis has made a saint since his election five years ago. The others are John XXIII, who died in 1963, and John Paul, who died in 2005. – (Reuters)