THE pope who banned Catholics from using contraception has moved a step closer to sainthood.
The Vatican has approved a decree recognising the "heroic virtues" of Pope Paul VI, who served as pontiff from 1963 to 1978.
The move means that the Italian could be beatified if the Vatican ascertains that a miracle can be attributed to his intercession with God.
Another miracle would be necessary after the beatification in order for him to be made a saint.
Paul VI oversaw the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. The Council was one of the most important events in modern Church history, introducing major changes in liturgy and in Catholic dialogue with other religions.
He also led the Church in one of its most turbulent periods in modern history, as deep cultural changes took root around the world in the 1960s.
Paul VI is also remembered for his controversial encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' in 1978, which banned artificial birth control.