John laps Pius in race to sainthood
BY BRUCE JOHNSTON IN R0.41.E HIGH-LEVEL VATICAN sources revealed this week that the cause for the beatification of Pope John XXIII has now overtaken that of his controversial predecessor Pope Pius XII and has entered its final stretch.
John Paul II is understood to have accorded John's cause special "fast-track" treatment, at the expense of Pius, sources told the Catholic Herald.
John XXIII's 30-year-long cause is understood to be approaching examination by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and insiders say that a proclamation by the present Pope may follow in time for the millennium.
Pope Paul VI, a long-time colleague of Pius XII, had originally wanted the two causes to proceed side by side.
But Pope John Paul II decided this was unnecessary, and in the late 1980s the two causes took their own, separate courses.
Vatican City sources said this week that the progress of John XXIII's cause should not be seen to reflect badly on Pius XII.
They stressed that John Paul II had recently defended Pius in a 14-page Vatican document reflecting on the Holocaust, countering claims by Jewish groups and religious leaders that he knew of and tacitly accepted Nazi atrocities.
John XXIII's beatification is favourably viewed by Jewish figures. A declaration by the World Jewish Congress in 1980 in support of John XXIII is included in the cause's documen
In another of the depositions in favour, the Brazilian Mgr Helder Camara said that "Protestant circles" also viewed his beatification positively.
Pope John XIII, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, changed the course of Church history by initiating the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
In the apostolic constitution calling the Council, Humanae Salutis, issued on Christmas Day 1961, he famously emphasised the necessity of following Christ's
injunction to read "the signs of the times".
Pope John attempted to open the Church to the world, forging ties with the similarly outwardlooking Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev.
Pope John died after a painful illness on Whit Monday, 3 June 1963.
After 30 years, it is understood that the cause of John XXIII, whose pontificate ran from 1958 to 1963, has completed the positio and informatio stages.
The first concerns the reason why beatification is sought. The second is where proof including that of miracles is collected, and all writings by the candidate (in this case before and during his papacy) are scrutinised.
By a twist of fate, the time needed to process the cause of John XXIII has proved to be shorter than that for Pius, since the former was Pope for little more than four years.
In contrast, more time was needed to gather documentation relating to the long time John XXIII spent in Istanbul, Sofia and
Paris before becoming Pope. Hundreds of witnesses have testified to miracles by John XXIII, of which 15 are understood to have been verified.
His cause is said to have been greatly aided by Pope John's immense popularity around the world, which often resulted in his being nicknamed it papa buono the "good" pope and the fact that he is very dear to the present Pontiff.
Last year, Catholic Herald readers overwhelmingly voted for Pope John as "Catholic of the Century".