“By our apostolic authority we declare that the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI, Pope, shall henceforth be called Blessed…”
With these words, Pope Francis beatified Paul VI at the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops. The celebration comes at the conclusion of a two week meeting where the Pope, along with Bishops and Cardinals from around the world, discussing the challenges of the family.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was made a Cardinal by the newly Blessed in 1977, was present at the beatification. He was greeted warmly by Pope Francis at the start of the Mass. Benedict XVI had declared Paul VI ‘Venerable’ in December 2012.
Pope Francis wore a gold chasuble that belonged to Blessed Paul VI as well as the newly beatified’s, pastoral cross.
The Holy Father reflected on the Synod, noting that pastors and lay people worked together “in order to help today’s family walk the path of the Gospel with their gaze fixed on Jesus.”
“It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the church,” he said. “For the church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.”
The pope expressed his hope that the Holy Spirit would continue to “guide the journey which, in the churches throughout the world, is bringing us to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on October 2015.”
Paul VI: A Prophetic Witness of Love
Referring to Blessed Paul VI as a “tireless apostle”, Pope Francis recalled his predecessor’s establishment of the Synod as a way of adapting to the “growing needs of our times”.
“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!” he exclaimed as the faithful applauded. “Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI! Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his church!”
During his pontificate, Blessed Paul VI led the church during the sexual revolution of the 60s. It was in that time that he wrote his famed encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (Human Life) which reaffirmed the Church’s stance on conjugal love, parenthood, and the Church’s stance on contraception. Though facing opposition from both outside and within the Church, Paul VI staunchly defended “the design established by the Creator.”
It was his humility, Pope Francis concluded, where “the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth.
“Before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom — and at times alone — to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.”