Pope Benedict XVI declared the man who named him a cardinal “Venerable” in 2012. And now, Pope Francis has recognized a miracle needed to declare Paul VI “Blessed”. The beatification will take place on October 19. Traditional Catholics heavily fault Pope Paul VI for what they consider extremely poor stewardship of the Church (especially in the arena of liturgical oversight) during the cultural chaos of the 1960s and 1970s and the aftermath of Vatican II. Liberals, for their part, will never forgive him for his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, which enshrined the Church’s firm opposition to all forms of artificial birth control at a time when everyone else was capitulating to the pill. He suffered greatly for this encyclical, even from various rogue factions within the Church. A man of deep prayer, Paul VI was well-known for his profound Marian spirituality.
Muslims in Istanbul were furious and shocked when he spontaneously knelt in prayer before an icon of the Virgin Mary in Hagia Sophia (any public prayer in the former church-turned-mosque-turned-museum was and is strictly forbidden). He made Joseph Ratzinger and Karol Wojtyla “Princes of the Church”, and he gave Milwaukee Rembert Weakland. What can we say?
Disputes aside, the Church has spoken.