Pius XII on fast track to sainthood
Pit's XII is set to be the first 20th century pope be made a saint.
The long and controversial procedure of his beatification. taking 33 years. will come to an end next year, according to Vatican sources.
The documentation for the cause has now been deposited with the appropriate Vatican congregation, and cardinals and theologians are expected to begin examining the paperwork collected by the postulator. the German Jesuit Peter Gumpel.
It was previously thought that the cause of John XXIII had leapfrogged that of Pius XII, with allegations of complicity with the Nazis blackening the name of Pius.
The job, which promises to be arduous — evidence has been collected from 200 witnesses from around the world — is likely to require a year to complete, but it is thought possible that the cause tnay be decided in time for the start of the Jubilee, or Millennium Holy Year.
The delay in Pius XII's cause, which was proposed by Pope Paul VI together with that of his predecessor Pope John XXIII is thought to be connected to controversy over claims of Pius's "silence" concerning the Holocaust.
Despite Church indignation at criticisms of the wartime Pope. whom it claims helped to save Jews. new allegations that Pius helped Nazi crimi
nals to escape Europe have now also been made.
During the war Pius XII stressed he was "impartial" rather than "neutral" regarding the conflict, though he did run a substantial programme for the relief of war victims. including Jews.
According to the book The Last Three Popes and the Jews by Jewish scholar Pinhas Lapide, through his personal intervention, Pius XII saved the lives of 860.000 Jews.
In July it was revealed that his Apostolic Nuncio to Germany during the war so enraged Adolf Hitler when confronting him over the persecution of the Jews in 1943 that the Nazi dictator threw a glass to the floor in anger. So much so — it was also revealed two months ago — that Hitler had personally given orders for the assassination of Pius XII in January 1944 because of "the pontifical protest in favour of the Israelites".
John Paul II is now understood to be very keen that all three of his immediate predecessors be beatified in time for the Jubilee, although he is loathe to intervene in order to speed up the procek lure.