The NY Times reports today:
“ROME — In an effort to calm growing tensions with Jewish groups, the Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI had not moved the wartime Pope Pius XII closer to sainthood as an “act of hostility” against those who believe Pius did not do enough to stop the Holocaust.”
…This pope seems to have a difficult time avoiding controversy, from provoking Muslims to giving Holocaust-deniers a free pass to advancing the canonization cause of one of the most controversial popes of modern times. One has a right to ask: Why?
Research for my book revealed that Pius XII was not nearly the monster his critics accused him of being, nor was he the Nazi sympathizer he was charged with being either. The historical record seems to argue that Pius took great risks to hide and protect Jews in Italy during WWII in Vatican-owned property. That’s all good. But what, we must ask, is the purpose of canonization? Is it to simply honor the church’s best-known figures? Or is it to honor those who truly lived lives of heroic virtue, and whose lives can be an inspiration to the faithful — role models for emulation? If Pius can truly pass the test of the latter, he deserves his shot at Catholic recognition. If, on the weight of the evidence, he cannot, than this cause should die and be done with.
But for a German pope to push this cause forward, it seems another case of the Vatican’s blindness to perceptions.