Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council that Paul oversaw and implemented.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was on hand for the Mass, which took place just hours after Catholic bishops approved a document charting a more pastoral approach to ministering to Catholic families.
They failed to reach consensus on the two most divisive issues at the synod: on welcoming gays and divorced and civilly remarried couples. But the issues remain up for discussion ahead of another meeting of bishops next year.
While the synod scrapped its ground-breaking welcome and showed deep divisions on hot-button issues, the fact that the questions are on the table is significant given that they had been taboo until Francis’ papacy.
“God is not afraid of new things!” Francis exclaimed in his homily Sunday. “That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.”
He quoted Paul himself as saying the church, particularly the synod of bishops that Paul established, must survey the signs of the times to make sure the church adapts methods to respond to the “growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society.”
Paul was elected in 1963 to succeed the popular Pope John XXIII.