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.
Pope Paul VI has been beatified by Pope Francis on the last day of the Synod of Bishops on the Family
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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Proposals for wider acceptance of gay people failed to win a two-thirds majority at the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family.
A mid-term draft report issued through the meeting had called for greater openness towards gay people and divorced Catholics who have remarried.
However, those paragraphs were not approved, and were stripped from the final text.
The report will inform further debate before the synod reconvenes in larger numbers in a year’s time.
Correspondents say the text welcoming gay people and remarried Catholics had been watered down in the final version that was voted on – but it appears that they still met with resistance from conservatives.
All other parts of the draft report were accepted by the synod.
Proposals for wider acceptance of gay people failed to win a two-thirds majority at the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family
Speaking after the vote, Pope Francis told attendees that he would have been “worried and saddened” if there had not been “animated discussions” or if “everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace”, AP news agency reported.
Pope Francis also cautioned against “hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God”.
While the earlier draft had said that gay people had “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community”, the revised document only said that discrimination against gay people “is to be avoided”.
The Pope said the full draft document, including the rejected paragraphs, should be published.
“Keep in mind this is not a magisterial document….the Pope asked for it to be made available to show the degree of maturity that has taken place and that which still needs to take place in discussions over the coming year,” Holy See press officer Tom Rosica said on Vatican Radio.
Pope Francis had made a powerful appeal to traditionalists not to lock themselves within the letter of the law, but conservative cardinals and bishops carried the day at the end of the synod.
About 200 bishops attended the synod on family issues at the Vatican.
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