Sainthood moves for Nazi-era pope `not delayed'

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The Independent Online
THE VATICAN denied yesterday that moves to beatify the controversial wartime pontiff Pius XII had been slowed down, and said the cause for his sainthood was proceeding normally.

Jewish leaders, who consider Pius XII guilty of not opposing the Holocaust, have criticised the beatification. The prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, Monsignor Jose Saraiva Martins, said: "If he [Pius XII] had not proceeded with caution we might have found ourselves grieving for the deaths of even more Jews and today he would have been blamed for an even greater crime."

Monsignor Martins confirmed that the Congregation will examine the findings of a joint Jewish-Catholic committee of historians reviewing Vatican archive material.

He was speaking at the presentation of the hefty tome Index Ac Status Causarum, which lists the 1,921 beatification causes now underway.

Five days of celebrations have been set aside for beatification and canonisation ceremonies in the jubilee year 2000, but precisely who will make it to the "altar of the saints" during the year will not be made known until next week.

Despite public pressure, the waiving of the normal five-year period before anyone can be considered for sainthood, and encouragement from the Pope himself, Mother Teresa of Calcutta looks unlikely to be among them. The tribunal to determine whether she meets the prerequisites for sainthood is still in its preliminary stage in Calcutta.

Almost certain to be included are two former popes: one of Italy's favourite pontiffs, Pope John XXIII, responsible for the Second Vatican Council, which made the Church more outward-looking, and Pope Pius IX, a far more reactionary figure, who opposed the unification of Italy in the 19th century.

Pope John Paul II has created 1,235 saints - more than all his predecessors put together.

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