Catholic World News News Feature

Beatification not close for Pope Pius XII: Vatican spokesman June 17, 2008

The beatification of Pope Pius XII is not imminent, the Vatican's chief spokesman told reporters at a June 17 press conference.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the beatification of the wartime Pontiff-- like the beatification of Pope John Paul II-- remains "in the kingdom of the future." By that, he explained, he meant that "it is not possible to say with any certainty" when the beatifications will take place.

Father Lombardi spoke to reporters at a Vatican briefing on two events that have been scheduled to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII: a conference on the Pontiff's teaching, to be held in November at the pontifical Gregorian and Lateran universities; and a photo exhibit covering the years of the pontificate of Pius XII (1939- 1958), to be held in the Charlemagne wing of St. Peter's Square from October 2008 through February 2009.

Bishop Salvatore Fisichella, the rector of the Lateran University, told reporters that the teaching of Pope Pius XII had a considerable impact on the Second Vatican Council. Commenting on the Pontiff's intellectual legacy, the bishop pointed to his 43 encyclicals and his 1950 proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption.

In May 2007, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reportedly approved a finding of "heroic virtue" in the life of Pope Pius XII. But Pope Benedict XVI has not yet given his approval to the decree that would give the late Pope the title "Venerable," and make him eligible for beatification with the certification of a miracle through his intercession.

The cause for the beatification of Pope Pius XII has been dogged by controversy, with some critics charging that he failed to condemn the Nazi extermination campaign against European Jews. Defenders of the wartime Pope have cited historic records to rebut those charges. But Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has observed that the myth of papal indifference to the Holocaust 'is now so firmly rooted that people just ignore evidence to the contrary."