THE POPE who reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage and responsible parenthood may soon be a saint.

Pope Paul VI has moved closer to sainthood as Pope Francis formally approved a miracle attributed to the late pontiff’s intercession last May 9.

The intercession involved the miraculous birth of a baby in California. In 1990, a pregnant mother had a rupture in the fetal bladder, draining the amniotic fluid. Doctors advised the mother to abort her baby.

Instead of terminating the pregnancy, the mother sought the intercession of Pope Paul VI. The baby is now a healthy adolescent, according to a report by Catholic News Service last May 12.

Paul VI will be beatified on Oct. 19 as bishops from around the world gather in the Vatican for the Synod of Bishops on Family. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will be one of the three chairpersons of the synod.

‘Pilgrim Pope’

For his numerous travels, Pope Paul VI earned the moniker “The Pilgrim Pope.” He was the first pontiff to travel outside Italy and the first to visit North America, Africa, and Asia.

Paul VI’s visit in the Philippines, then the only Christian nation in Asia, on Nov. 20, 1970 was marred by an attempted assassination during his arrival at the Manila International Airport.

Benjamin Mendoza y Amor Flores, a Bolivian painter, tried to slash the late pontiff’s chest twice. Pope Paul VI was wounded slightly on both sides of his neck.

In an interview, Fr. Franklin Beltran, O.P., parish priest of the Santissimo Rosario Parish, said Mendoza was able to approach the late pontiff because he had disguised as a priest. He was hiding a knife inside his tuxedo. The pope’s secretary was able to stop the attack by pinning Mendoza to the ground.

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Paul VI also visited UST. It was the first of the three papal visits, followed by St. John Paul II’s trip to Manila for the beatification of San Lorenzo Ruiz in 1981 and for the World Youth Day celebrations in 1995.

Beltran said Paul VI spent a day at the Medicine Auditorium where he met all the bishops of Asia.

“We are blessed to be called a Pontifical University. That is why our beloved University was graced as one of the venues of three historic visits,” Beltran said in an interview.

He recalled his personal encounter with the late pontiff.

“At that time, I was only a second-year Theology student. The first word that I said when I saw him was, ‘Wow. This is a saint!’” Beltran said.

Pope Paul VI’s beatification should inspire all the Filipinos to be holy, Beltran said.

“Everyone can be a saint. Everyone can be holy as long as we are embracing the will of God,” Beltran said. “Keep praying through Pope Paul VI’s intercession. He will grant it.”

Paul VI, born Giovanni Battista Montini, served as pope from 1963 to 1978.

He was archbishop of Milan before he was elected to be the successor of Pope John XXIII (now St. John XXIII) in 1963.

Paul VI implemented the reforms of the Second Vatican Council convoked by his predecessor in 1962.

He also authored eight encyclicals: “Christi Matri (Mother of Christ),” “Ecclesiam Suam (Paths of the Church),” “Humanae Vitae (On the Regularization of Human Birth),” “Mense Maio (In the month of May),” “Misterium Fidei (On the Mystery of Faith),” “Populorum Progresio (On the Progression of Peoples),” “Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (On Priestly Celibacy)” and “Signum Magnum (The Great Sign – On Devotion to the Most Blessed Mary).”

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He is best known for Humanae Vitae, which drew heavy criticism for reaffirming the teachings of the Catholic Church on human life and the regulation of birth.

Pope Paul VI’s beatification follows the canonization of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II last April 27. The ceremonies led by Pope Francis, with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as concelebrant, drew a crowd of 800,000 pilgrims.

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