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Catholic World News

Vatican denies Jewish pressure delaying beatification of Pius XII

June 22, 2009

The Vatican press office has issued a statement denying that the beatification of Pope Pius XII is being delayed because of pressure from Jewish groups, in response to controversial statements by a Jesuit priest involved in the cause of the wartime Pontiff. Father Peter Gumpel, SJ, had reportedly told an audience at a Roman bookstore that Pope Benedict XVI has put the brakes on the progress of the beatification cause because he was convinced that "relations between the Catholic church and Jews would be definitively and permanently compromised." The statement seemed to confirm earlier reports that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had prepared a decree recognizing the "heroic virtue" of Pius XII-- fulfilling one of the remaining criteria for beatification-- but Pope Benedict XVI had chosen not to approve that decree.

After Jewish leaders denied efforts to influence the Church-- and Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo De Segni, described the beatification question as an "Internal problem" for the Catholic Church to resolve-- the director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, issued a statement stressing that "the signing of decrees concerning causes of beatification is the exclusive prerogative of the Pope, who must be left completely free in his evaluations and decisions."

"If the Pope believes that study and reflection upon the cause of Pius XII are to be further prolonged, his position must be respected without unjustified and inappropriate interventions," Father Lombardi said.


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