John Paul II and Pius XII move closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY — As expected (see our post below), Pope Benedict today officially declared that Pope John Paul II had lived a life of “heroic virtues,” a major milestone toward his beatification.

But the big surprise was that Pope Benedict also signed the decree of heroic virtues for Pope Pius XII, whose sainthod process has been a cause of contention with some Jewish groups and others.

Pope Pius XII meets with Allied news people in 1944. (CNS photo/U.S. Navy)

After the Congregation for Saints’ Causes unanimously recommended the heroic virtues decree for Pope Pius in 2007, Pope Benedict appointed a commission to study how the beatification of the wartime pope would affect Catholic-Jewish and Vatican-Israeli relations. During this time, the Vatican asked both critics and supporters to stop pressing the issue.

Clearly, after more than a year of reflection, Pope Benedict thinks the time has come to move Pope Pius’ cause forward.

Today’s action does not mean imminent beatification. Both of the late popes still require verification of a miracle attributed to their intercession.

In other decrees issued today, Pope Benedict recognized the miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Mary MacKillop, the Australian founder of a religious order dedicated to educating the children of the poor. 

And he recognized the martydom of Polish Father Jerzy Popieluszko, who was abducted and killed by communist agents in Poland in 1984. The priest was was known for his outspoken support of the then-outlawed Solidarity movement. The martyrdom decree clears the way for his beatification.

The pope also recognized the heroic virtues of Sister Mary Ward, an English religious once jailed as a heretic by the same pope who sanctioned Galileo. She founded the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Loreto Sisters.

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7 Responses to John Paul II and Pius XII move closer to sainthood

  1. Jeff Abood says:

    It is good the Pope is giving credit where its due.
    And as Sainthood is an internal Catholic matter, other religions, in this case Jews, have no say so. Its basically none of their business what we Catholics do.

  2. William Callaghan says:


    It actually is Jews’ business concerning Pius XII, I do think he has been maligned however, and your “it’s none of your business” attitude is the sort of thing that gives decent Catholics a bad name. A little courtesy towards our elder brothers, as John Paul the Great called them, would be very helpful

  3. oferdesade says:

    actually, if someone who is about to be declared a saint was guilty of compliance in murder (i’m not saying he was, but let’s remember what’s at stake) in retrospect, the church will be de-facto sanctioning murder, and it doesn’t matter who raises the question (jews, communists, the devil himself). given even a slight chance that the accusation is true, why declare Pius XII venerable in such an underhanded manner? surely, the accusations should be investigate BY DISINTERESTED PARTIES!

  4. Jeff Roseman says:

    What is the Jewish contention as to why they would not support Pope Benedict’s declaration on behalf of Pope Pius? Possibly, more knowledge would clarify things.

  5. Mary C says:

    For a good understanding of the issues and controversy, I recommend reading a book by Rabbi David G. Dalen titled “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: Pope Pius XII and His Secret War Against Nazi Germany”. It’s available on and probably at some libraries.

    Rabbi Dalen takes an in-depth look at the historical facts surrounding Pope Pius XII’s actions during World War II and he essentially comes to the same conclusion as the Pope’s Jewish contemporary leaders, who hailed him as a great friend of the Jewish people and a “Righteous Gentile”.

    In reality, Pope Pius XII has been the victim of a major smear campaign. As the Church continues to examine his cause, I am sure that the truth will be revealed. Hopefully his eventual canonization will actually result in closer Catholic-Jewish relations!

  6. patricia stockdale says:


  7. Richard S. says:

    Pius12 and JohnPaul2 have disobeyed the Queen of Heaven and earth . They did not consecrate RUSSIA to Her Immaculate Heart. How can they possibly be considered saints?

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