Vatican press office director says Pius XII beatification not imminent

Vatican press office director says Pius XII beatification not imminent

Rome, Jun 17, 2008 / 03:00 am (CNA).- Father Frederico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office, on Tuesday said that the beatification of Pope Pius XII will not take place in the near future.

The priest spoke at a presentation of November events scheduled to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s death, ANSA reports.

“The beatifications of Pius XII, as well as John Paul II, remain in the kingdom of the future” Father Lombardi said. “In other words, it is not possible to say with any certainty when they will be celebrated.”

Beatification is the final step before sainthood. When beatified, a person is given the title “Blessed” and may be venerated in the place where he or she lived.

Pope Pius XII’s papacy lasted from 1939 and 1958. Critics allege that Pope Pius was reluctant to speak out publicly against Hitler and the Holocaust, with Jewish circles being particularly outspoken in their criticism.

His defenders say Pope Pius was reluctant to confront Hitler because of fears of further backlash against the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, in June of last year said the critical view of Pope Pius XII “is now so firmly rooted that people just ignore evidence to the contrary.”

“He is falsely painted as indulgent with Nazism and insensitive to the fate of their victims... whereas many documents and witnesses show this idea is totally groundless,” Cardinal Bertone said.

Last May, according to ANSA, cardinals voted to recognize the “heroic virtues” of the wartime Pope, a requirement for beatification. Pope Benedict XVI has not yet approved the beatification.

Earlier this year, Vatican officials formally denied that plans to canonize Pope Pius XII have been postponed.

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