Approved Miracle Sets Paul VI on the Road to Sainthood

Last week Venerable Pope Paul VI moved one step closer to canonization, when the consulting theologians from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved a miracle attributed to his intercession.

In December, I reported that the Medical Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, headed by the Pope’s personal physician, had declared that the former pope’s healing of an unborn child is “unexplainable” and had forwarded the case to theologians for review before the case goes to the Pope.

On February 21, Andrea Tornielli reported in Vatican Insider that those theological experts were in unanimous agreement that the  healing attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul VI was, in fact, miraculous.

The case involved an unborn child who was expected to be born with serious brain damage.  Catholic News Agency has the story:

In the mid-1990s in California, the then-unborn child was found to have a serious problem with a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

The child was born without problems, and now that he is an adolescent and remains healthy, he is regarded as having been completely healed.

The healing had already been announced as medically inexplicable by the medical commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A miracle must be approved by both the members of the congregation and Pope Francis in order for Pope Paul VI to be beatified – the last step in the canonization process prior to being named a saint.

The cause for canonization of the late Pope Paul VI was opened in 1993.  In December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree recognizing his “heroic virtue” and bestowing on him the title “Venerable.”

Pope Paul VI’s many contributions include his leadership over the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by his predecessor Blessed John XXIII; his promulgation in 1969 of a new Roman Missal; his reaffirmation of the benefit of priestly celibacy; and his reform of the Roman Curia.

Especially notable, though, was his publication in 1968 of the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” which reaffirmed the Church’s teaching about the value of human life even at its earliest stages, and which explained the Church’s opposition to contraception.


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  • oregon nurse

    I am finding the criteria for miracles to be less than convincing these days. Maybe this was clear cut but mistakes on fetal testing are common. Just this month we heard about a woman who gave birth to a quadruplet that was completely missed throughout her pregnancy. That is one heck of a mistake in a pregnancy as closely monitored as hers was. It makes it clear that whoppers occur, even 20 years after this case.

    • kathyschiffer

      I’m not sure what you’re saying, Oregon Nurse. Do you mean “there are mistakes in fetal testing, so we don’t always get it right in time to abort”? ‘Cause if you mean that, I’m not with you.

      • oregon nurse

        No, not at all. I’m saying that a miracle seems to have been declared based on pre-natal testing – something was or wasn’t there on testing, then it wasn’t or was after birth and that’s proof of miraculous healing. Therefore the example of the quadruplet – if you can miss a whole baby, well you can miss a lot apparently.

        Given how fallible the accuracy of pre-natal testing can be (even more so 20 years ago), I would find pre-natal testing to be less than convincing grounds for proof of a miracle.

        • kathyschiffer

          Oh, I understand your point. I am not a medical professional, so can’t speak to the particulars of the case. I do know, though, that there is a painstaking process which leads to canonization–that much study is required, lest the Church later be found to have made a mistake on any aspect of the case. I trust that if there is any question of the veracity of claims, the process will not continue to move forward.

  • Wendell Clanton

    Given his encyclical Humanæ Vitæ, which is nothing short of prophetic, and his faithful witness through some turbulent times (when few in the Church seemed to be listening to his teaching), I will be happy to call Paul VI “Saint” and ask for his intercession more often. Santo subito!