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Pope Francis is to beatify his predecessor Pope Paul VI on 19 October, the Vatican confirmed on Saturday.
The Vatican announced that Francis has approved a decree attributing a miracle to the intercession of the Italian pope, and his beatification will take place on 19 October, at the conclusion of the bishops’ synod on the family.
Last Tuesday the Italian news agency, ANSA, reported that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints had attributed to the late pope’s intercession the healing of an unborn baby from an otherwise incurable illness.
Italian Catholic media reported that the baby was born in California in the 1990s. It said that the pregnancy had been at risk and doctors urged the mother, who to protect the family’s privacy has not been named, to have an abortion. A nun and friend of the family placed a holy card bearing Pope Paul’s photograph and a piece of his vestment on the mother’s stomach and the baby was born healthy. Doctors waited until the child reached puberty before agreeing a full recovery had taken place.
Giovanni Battista Montini, who reigned as Pope Paul VI between 1963 and 1978, presided over part of the Second Vatican Council and the implementation of many of its key reforms. But his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which addresses the sanctity of the unborn, remains controversial for its ban on the use of artificial contraception.
Paul VI’s predecessor, Pope John XXIII, was canonised two weeks ago on the same day as Pope John Paul II.
The postulator of Paul VI’s cause, Fr Antonio Marrazzo, told Vatican Radio in 2012 “a truly extraordinary and supernatural event had occurred thanks to the intercession of Paul VI”, adding: “This healing fits in with Montini’s way of thinking.”