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Debate joined: Pope Benedict strongly defends the memory of Pius XII

Catholic World News - October 09, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended the memory of Pope Pius XII on October 9, as he celebrated Mass in the Vatican basilica for the 50th anniversary of the wartime Pontiff's death. The Holy Father signaled his support for the beatification of Pius XII, but did not give any indication when the beatification might take place. The papal statement of support came as an answer to renewed charges that Pius XII had not been sufficiently clear and persistent in denouncing the Holocaust. On Monday, after addressing the Synod of Bishops, the Israeli Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen told reporters that he might not have accepted the Vatican's invitation to speak if he had known that the Pope would celebrate a Mass for Pius XII later in the same week. In his homily Pope Benedict remarked that his predecessor's work during World War II was marked by "a love made manifest in the intensity with which he promoted works of charity in defense of the persecuted, with no distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political views." He explained that Pius XII "often acted secretly and silently because, in the real situations of that complex moment in history, he had an intuition that only in this way would he be able to avoid the worst, and to save the largest possible number of Jews."

During the Mass, Pope Benedict prayed "that the cause of beatification of Servant of God Pius XII may continue favorably." Last year the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reportedly voted to endorse a finding that the life of Pius XII demonstrated "heroic virtue." However Pope Benedict has not yet approved a formal decree attesting to that finding. With the approval of the decree, the only remaining requirement for the beatification of Pius XII would be the certification of a miracle through his intercession.

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