Blessed Pope Paul VI who will be declared a saint on October 14, died 40 years ago on August 6, 1978. Looking back at the 15-year pontificate, his postulator or promoter for canonization, Redemptorist Father Antonio Marrazzo, spoke to Vatican News saying Paul VI gave a new direction to the Church’s journey on earth. The Italian priest said that in his writings and testament Paul VI revealed his understanding of man, especially as the image of God. The priest noted that 40 years after his death the Church continues to take a different path as indicated by the Second Vatican Council and taught by Paul VI, which consists is putting man at the center, not so much in his anthropological aspect as an end in itself but rather as an image of God – man as willed by God in his likeness, a man who has value and dignity“.
The Redemptorist priest explained that Paul VI had this outlook as a young priest and always showed his concern for the least, lost and last of the world. According to Paul VI, we must regard man as God wants it – with tender mercy and love that is not based on condemnation but on understanding and saving because in every man there is an image of God that we must help re-emerge and resurface.
Fr. Marrazzo said that Paul VI was elected to carry forward the Second Vatican Council and guide it with a steady hand to make a “Samaritan” Church, the “handmaid of humanity” that is more inclined to “messages of trust” than “foreboding omens”.
The postulator noted that Pope Paul’s earlier years in the Holy See’s diplomatic service was an art of listening and building peace. Regarding the youth he focused on transmitting an intelligent and free faith, a culture thirsting for truth and open to dialogue. As Archbishop of Milan, he showed a strong experience of Church of the people, close to the people together with its modernity. Pope Paul’s landmark encyclical “Humanae Vitae”, fifty years ago, the postulator said, affirmed the intimate union between conjugal love and openness to life. In this regard Fr. Marrazzo pointed out that both the miracles attributed to the intercession of Paul VI are regarding foetuses, i.e. unborn life. Hence, he said, Paul VI could be regarded as the protector of unborn life.
The Redemptorist priest explained that the miracle considered for Paul VI’s canonization is regarding a woman from Verona whose unborn child was in danger of being born dead or heavily deformed with a very slim chance of survival due to the lack of amniotic fluid. A gynecologist suggested to the family to pray to Paul VI around the time he was being beatified in October 2014. The girl born on Christmas day that year is healthy today, he said. These two miracles, Fr. Marrazzo said; prove that from unborn life come forth persons who have already been considered children by God.