Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pope Paul VI soon a Blessed

Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
Giovanni Battista Montini's beatification is near: On May 6 cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints unanimously approved the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Italian Pope from Brescia, who died in August 1978. The year which marked the canonization of two Popes – John XXIII and John Paul II – will also be the year of Paul VI’s beatification. In the next few days Pope Francis will be promulgating the decree on the miracle attributed to the late Pope and the date suggested for the actual beatification is 19 October. The beatification is expected to take place in Rome on the occasion of the concluding ceremony of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family: it was Paul VI himself who established the Synod in September 1965 in response to a request made by the Council fathers. It should be noted that next August will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Paul VI’s first big encyclical, the “Ecclesiam Suam”, which he wrote and edited entirely by himself. He was ordained priest on May 29, 1920, consecrated Bishop on December 12, 1954 and made a Cardinal on December 15, 1958. He succeeded St John XXIII as Pope on June 21, 1963.
The miracle attributed to the intercession of Paul VI was witnessed in the United States in 2001. It involved the healing of an unborn child, which was found to have serious problems and a high risk of brain damage: the foetus’ bladder was damaged and doctors reported ascites (presence of liquid in the abdomen) and anhydramnios (absence of fluid in the amniotic sac). All attempts to correct the problem proved futile and in the end the doctors said the child would either die in the womb or it would be born with severe renal impairment. Abortion was offered as an option but the mother refused. Instead, she took the advice given to her by a nun who was a friend of the family and had met Montini: she decided to pray for Paul VI’s intercession using a fragment of the Pope’s vestments which the nun had given her.

Pope Paul VI with Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, eventually John Paul II
Ten weeks later the results of the medical tests showed a substantial improvement in the child’s health and the baby was born by Caesarean section in the 39th week of pregnancy. Faith weekly Credere revealed that the diocesan inquiry was launched in 2003 and all witnesses agree that the case in question cannot be explained scientifically.
The child has made it to thirteen and his health is constantly monitored to ensure that his psychophysical state is normal. Doctors are especially keeping an eye on the child’s renal function. On 12 December last year the medical consultation of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints headed by Professor Patrizio Polisca, confirmed the impossibility of explaining the healing and the dicastery’s theologians gave their approval last 18 February. Benedict XVI promulgated Paul VI’s heroic virtues on 20 December 2012.

Altar-boy Julian Cassar kissing the ring of Pope Paul VI in 1966
I was honored to be in Pope Paul VI’s presence in 1966 as an altar-boy chosen to serve at the Vatican. In the audience we had with the Pope, I kissed the ring of the Supreme Pontiff and a photographer snapped a photo which I will treasure for ever. Out of 25 altar-servers only me and another boy had our picture taken in such a historic and memorable moment. In the audience he told us that whenever we became pastors to go to visit him again. Unfortunately he died in 1978, but I did see his successor, Benedict and even concelebrated Mass with him in Malta in 2010.

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