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20140512cnsbr5471 webPope Paul VI is seen in an undated official portrait. (CNS photo/Felici, Catholic Press Photo)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul VI Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

Pope Francis signed a decree May 9 recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul, who led the church from 1963 to 1978, and authorized publication of the Oct. 19 beatification date, according to a Vatican statement May 10.

The miracle involved the birth of a baby in California in the 1990s. The family's name and city have not been released, but according to news reports, a pregnant woman whose life was at risk along with the life of her baby was advised by doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Instead she sought prayers from an Italian nun who was a family friend. The nun placed a holy card with Pope Paul's photograph and a piece of his vestment on the woman's belly.

The baby was born healthy. For Pope Paul's sainthood cause, physicians continued monitoring the child's health up to the age of 12 and everything was normal.

Pope Paul's connection with the themes expected to be raised at the synod on the family Oct. 5-19 include the encyclical for which is he is most known, "Humanae Vitae." The 1968 encyclical, usually described as a document affirming the church's prohibition against artificial contraception, places that conclusion in the context of Catholic teaching on the beauty and purpose of marriage, married love and procreation.

When St. John XXIII died in 1963, Pope Paul reconvened the Second Vatican Council, presided over the final three of its four sessions and oversaw the promulgation of all of the council's documents. He also led the process of implementing the council's reforms.

Pope Paul VI was the first pope in the modern area to travel abroad, visiting: Jordan and Israel in January 1964; Lebanon and India in December 1964; the United Nations and New York in October 1965; the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugual in May 1967; Turkey in July 1967; Colombia and Bermuda in August 1968; Switzerland in June 1969; Uganda in July-August 1969; and Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoan Islands, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka in November-December 1970.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in the northern Italian province of Brescia, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1920 and was named archbishop of Milan in 1954. Elected pope in 1963, he died at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo Aug. 6, 1978.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.