10 A Saint for our Times - Antonio V Francisco Fernandes

posted Dec 5, 2018, 9:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:12 AM ]
The elevation of Pope Paul VI to sainthood on October 14, 2018 did not get as much coverage as the canonisation of his successor, Pope John Paul II, four years ago, but its relevance to the modern times is very significant. He was, by all accounts, a holy man who stood his ground, even at the cost of being unpopular. Sanctity and popularity don't always go together. He was called conservative for some of his teachings, and progressive for others.

We live in times when laws that are made are not always based on right versus wrong, or the dictates of conscience, but on the expectations of the majority, which in turn can be shaped by the media and manipulated by vested interests. Anything that goes contrary to the popular trend becomes the object of intense prejudice, or even hatred. To stand up against a popular trend or to stand for certain values in the face of opposition becomes a difficult proposition, and requires the courage of conviction. And Pope Paul VI, now Saint Pope Paul VI, surely shows us the way.

Among his various encyclicals and exhortations, the following stand out: Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelisation in the Modern World), Populorum Progressio (The Development of Peoples) and Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). These writings were either welcomed or criticised; the last being the subject of controversy for a long time. Fifty years later, one can say that Paul VI was prophetic in his pronouncements, when we see the way human life is devalued today.