Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beatifying the Holocaust Pope.

At Business Week, Celestine Bohlen asks why Benedict is rushing to beatify the controversial World War II Pope Pius XII:

Many experts think that Benedict is trying to reconcile the church with its own history, with teachings that prevailed before the Second Vatican Council, the historical gathering of church leaders convened by Pope John XXIII in the 1960s. That was when the Roman Catholic Church entered the modern age, adopting such principles as separation of church and state, freedom of religion, a more modern liturgy and a repudiation of anti-Semitism.

“Benedict wants to emphasize the continuity of the church’s teachings, to make the point that the Second Vatican Council was not a break with the past,” said the Reverend Thomas Reese, a Jesuit scholar and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

This isn’t a surprising line of thinking from a conservative pope who as a theologian, once kept watch over the church’s doctrine. But he didn’t need to add another pope to the roster of saints to make the point.

Of the 265 popes in history, 76 are already saints: six are blessed. Perhaps now is the time to declare a halt to the practice, for liberals like John Paul II and John XXIII, as well as for conservatives like Pius XII. As Father Reese aptly noted, popes cannot be examples for ordinary Christians: Popes can only be examples for other popes.

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