Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI declares John Paul II and Pius XII "Venerable"

Today, reports the New York Times, Pope Benedict XVI moved two of his predecessors a step closer to sainthood, confirming the “heroic virtues” of John Paul II and, in a surprise move, of Pius XII, the pope during World War II:
After John Paul’s death in April 2005, Benedict bypassed a traditional waiting period to put the much beloved pope on a fast-track to sainthood. At John Paul’s funeral, crowds at Saint Peter’s Square chanted “santo subito,” or “sainthood now.” ...

Benedict has said that Pius worked “secretly and silently” to help save Jews. Although a Vatican committee confirmed his “heroic virtues” in 2007, Benedict had asked for time for reflection, which many saw as a diplomatic effort aimed at calming polemics.

On Saturday, the pope confirmed the committee’s findings. Before the two popes can become saints, another Vatican committee must determine that miracles have been attributed to them.

As the Times notes, Pius XII has been " point of contention between the Vatican and some Jewish groups, who say he did not do enough to stop the Holocaust." (See: "Pope Pius XII on the Jews archive for news and commentary on this particular topic).

From the Vatican, the 21 decrees of the Congregation for Saints' Causes approved today by Benedict XVI.