Page 1, 3rd August 2007

3rd August 2007
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Page 1, 3rd August 2007 — BY EDWARD PENTIN IN ROME
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BY EDWARD PENTIN IN ROME

POPE Pros XII could be beatified in the next year, ending accusations that the late wartime Pontiff failed to do enough to save Jews during the Second World War, according to an elderly nun who has spent many years clearing his name.

Sister Margherita Marchione, a Filippini sister who has written eight books exonerating Pius XII, said that he had already informally been declared Venerable, the penultimate stage to beatification, and that he would be declared Blessed "within the year". The 85-year-old nun from New Jersey said that what needed to be done now was to "pray for a miracle and I'm sure that we have some already".

In May members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes allegedly voted to recommend that Pope Benedict XVI formally declare him venerable. Citing unnamed sources, Italian newspapers said the congregation's cardinals and archbishops recommended that Pope Benedict formally recognise that Pope Pius lived the Christian virtues in a heroic manner. The newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that a minority of the congregation members had voted "no", urging Pope Benedict to delay issuing a decree until there is "a more favourable climate", particularly regarding the ongoing controversy over Pope Pius's wartime actions.

Papal spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi played down speculation of an imminent beatification, pointing out that Pius XII was not listed among 17 decrees issued by the Congregation that recognised miracles on July 6.

"A decree on the cause of Pius XII wasn't among these," he said, "and so it seems strange to me that a new decree would be made public in August." Fr Lombardi said that although reports of the vote among the commission of cardinals in May were based on "reliable sources", he stressed that the Holy See press office had yet to issue anything definitive on the matter.

"We haven't made a statement and it's not our task to do so," he said.

Sister Marchione believes that the late pontiff's beatification would have the effect of silencing his critics, just as happened with the beatification of Pius IX.

"The Jews were in uproar," she said, "but the moment he became beatified they didn't say another word, so I'm pretty sure the same thing's going to happen."

Letters: Page 11




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