Pope Benedict pushes controversial Pius XII closer to sainthood
21 December 2009
Pope Benedict XVI has moved his controversial war-time predecessor, Pius XII, a step closer to sainthood, declaring that Pius had displayed "heroic virtues" throughout his life and thus been a Christian worthy of imitation. Pius was one of 17 people approved by Benedict on Saturday in a list that also includes Pope John Paul II. The decree of heroic virtue is an important step on the path to sainthood, representing an official finding that the candidate lived a saintly life. The candidate can now be referred to as “venerable” and, if two miracles are documented and accepted by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints, can be beatified and later elevated to sainthood.
Pius XII (formerly Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli), who was pontiff of the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958, has been accused of doing little or nothing to prevent the death of six million Jews in the Holocaust.
The inclusion of his name in the list took Vatican observers by surprise. Rabbi David Rosen, the former chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Inter-Religious Consultations, said criticized Benedict’s “insensitivity” towards Jews. In Italy, the president of the Association of Italian Rabbis, Giuseppe Laras, called it a sad decision because “this pope did not shout out loud his outrage and his opposition to the Shoah and against the extermination of people whose only crime was that of being Jewish.”