Pope Benedict XVI has delayed the beatification process for Pope Pius XII to provide more time to study documents from World War II, Reuters reports.
When the Vatican issued a list of people whose causes for canonization were being moved forward last week, some analysts had expected to see Pope Pius XII’s name on the roster. Instead, Pope Benedict has set up a committee in the Secretariat of State to review old documents and to examine new documents that have only recently come to light.
Some Jewish groups have accused Pope Pius of being indifferent to the Holocaust and not speaking out against Hitler. Some groups, like the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League, have asked that the canonization inquiry be suspended until all Vatican World War II-era archives are declassified.
Supporters of the wartime Pope, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, consider Pope Pius XII a holy man who worked behind the scenes to help Jews throughout the continent. They point to his order that churches and convents in Rome take in Jews after the Germans occupied the city in 1943. The Vatican holds that Pope Pius did not speak out more forcefully for fear of further Nazi reprisals that would worsen the position of both Catholics and Jews.
Pope Benedict has not signed a six-month-old decree recognizing Pope Pius’ “heroic virtues,” a necessary step in the progress to beatification. Il Giornale reporter Andrea Tornielli said the Vatican was not doubting the holiness of the Pope, but was concerned about the effects of beatifying him too soon. Top cardinals have reportedly advised the delay in the beatification because it could adversely affect relations with Jews and the state of Israel.