Pope Paul VI, who led the Catholic Church through a tumultuous reform period in the 1960s and 1970s, could be elevated to sainthood in 2018 after a second miracle was linked to him, according to reports on Friday.
La Voce del Popolo, a weekly published by Paul VI’s northern Italian diocese of Brescia, said on its website that a panel of theologians – after hearing the advice of doctors – attributed the “miracle” birth of an Italian girl in 2014 to prayers addressed to the late pope.
The girl, who will turn three on Christmas Day, was born prematurely after 26 weeks. Doctors had previously told her mother that her pregnancy was seriously at risk because of a ruptured placenta, the diocesan paper said.
The theologians were said to have taken their decision on December 13. Their findings, due to be confirmed by the Vatican, could pave the way for Paul VI to be recognised as a saint in 2018, probably in October during a global summit of Catholic bishops in Rome, the Catholic newsletter said.
As is usual in such cases, the Vatican did not comment. Paul VI was beatified, a step below sainthood in 2014, after the attribution of a first miracle: the 2001 birth in the U.S. of a baby, who had earlier been diagnosed with a serious malformation.
Ruling from 1963 to 1978, Paul VI brought to a successful end the Second Vatican Council, which introduced far-reaching reforms such as the abolition of Latin mass for ordinary services. During his papacy, he also confirmed a long-standing ban on abortion and the use of artificial contraceptives.