The Cause of Paul VI Proceeds… But What of Pius XII?

A week ago, the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted in favor of Pope Paul VI’s “heroic virtue.” This clears the way for Paul’s beatification (though a miracle still must be approved). Paul’s beatification could occur during 2013, perhaps at the end of the “Year of Faith.” Still, the “elephant on the room” — the long-delayed cause of Pope Pius XII — remains. Why is Pope Paul’s cause apparently proceeding more quickly than that of Pope Pius, declared “Venerable” in 2009? Some say there is a desire in the Curia to “canonize” the Council, which Paul VI presided over from 1963-1965. Still, some think Benedict could take the opportunity of Paul’s beatification to beatify Pius XII alongside him — the “Pope of the Council” and “the Pope most cited in the Council’s 16 documents”…

“Cardinals vote unanimously in favour of Paul VI’s canonization”

The cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave the “go ahead” on December 10 for Paul VI’s beatification, Italian Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli reported on his VaticanInsider website on December 14.

“The late Pope’s Positio – the collection of documents used in the process by which a person is declared a saint – was approved unanimously by all present,” Tornielli reported (the Vatican has not officially released the news). “All bishops and cardinals expressed themselves in favour of the ‘heroic virtues’ of Giovanni Battista Montini, elected Pope with the name Paul VI in 1963 and deceased in 1978. Theologians, who voted separately, also voted unanimously in favor.”

The next move? Pope Benedict will have to sign a “Decree of Heroic Virtues.” This is expected later this week, on Thursday, December 20 (the day the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, will be received by the Pope).

“It is highly likely Benedict XVI will approve the beatification,” Tornielli writes.

Tornielli noted that this decision to declare Paul VI “Venerable” immediately after the vote will be taken (if it is taken, as is expected) much faster than the decision Benedict took in December 2009, after months of delay, to declare Pius XII “Venerable.”

Prior to any beatification, a second step is necessary: the recognition of a miracle, usually an inexplicable healing which occurs through the intercession of the person appealed to in prayer.

Fr. Antonio Marrazzo, the postulator of Paul VI’s cause, believes that an unborn child — an embryo — was healed 16 years ago in California through Paul VI’s intercession.

“During the pregnancy, doctors had found a serious problem with the fetus and because of the effects this problem was known to have on the brain, the only possible solution for the young mother was to have an abortion,” Tornielli writes. “The woman wanted to go through with the pregnancy and entrusted herself to the intercession of Paul VI, the Pope who wrote the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. The child was born without any health impairments.”

A second unexplainable case of healing involving a nun diagnosed with a tumor may also be presented for examination, Tornielli said.

Tornielli concludes that Pope Benedict “intends to proceed as quickly as possible” noting that “2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Montini’s election as Pope and the 35th anniversary of his death (in 1978).”

Thus, the beatification of Pope Paul VI is expected in late 2013.

Protests against the decision

Another Vatican journalist, Salvatore Izzo, reporting on December 16 (yesterday) on Tornielli’s article, observes that “the hypothesis of a rapid beatification, however, has prompted the protests of (Catholic) traditionalists, who do not wish to see  the Pope who conducted the Second Vatican Council raised to the altars.”

Izzo noted that the popular Italian traditional Catholic website, Messainlatino,had been “deluged” with “emails of protest.”

“Until the moment when the Holy Father has placed his signature on the decree, we will continue to express very grave reservations regarding such an inopportune decision,” the editors of the website write. (The original Italian: “Fino a quando la firma del Sommo Pontefice non sara’ apposta al decreto noi continueremo ad esprimere fortissime riserve in merito a tale inopportuna decisione.”)

They add: “Paul VI, not able to withstand the weight of many pressures also from the Curia… was too indulgent in his desire to please the false friends of the Church (internal and external).” (Original Italian: “Paolo VI, non reggendo il peso di molte pressioni anche della Curia… e indulse troppo nel voler compiacere i falsi amici della Chiesa (interni ed esterni).”)

The editors do not deny “the many gestures and talks of Pope Montini in defense of the Church” (“i molti gesti e discorsi di Papa Montini, a difesa della Chiesa“) but note that he himself “publicly stated that instead of a springtime, the spirit of the Council had provoked a winter, and declared that the smoke of Satan had entered into the Church” (Italian: “accuso’ pubblicamente che invece della primavera, lo spirito del Concilio aveva provocato l’inverno. E denuncio’ che il fumo di Satana era entrato nella Chiesa”).

The website said that, if Benedict XVI does sign the decree for Paul’s heroic virtue and for a miracle, and Paul is then beatified, they will, out of respect for Pope Benedict and his authority, not raise further protests.

And What About Pius XII?

The news that Paul VI may soon be beatified — and then, possibly, canonized as a saint — raised a question in many observers’ minds: What about Pope Pius XII?

In comments following Izzo’s article (found at, one Italian Catholic suggested that it is the world’s Jewish community which opposes Pope Pius’s beatification, and has asked the Vatican not to beatify Pius. “In the case of Pius XII, for the moment, there is the Jewish “nyet,'” this writer wrote. (Italian: “Su Pio XII c’è il niet ebraico, per ora.”) [Note: “Nyet” means “no” in Russian.]

Still, Pope Benedict may actually decide to beatify Pope Pius XII together with Pope Paul VI toward the end of 2013, to close the “Year of Faith.”

“If the Pope who brought the Council to an end and the Pope most cited in the Council documents were beatified together?” another person wrote. “It doesn’t seem to me that unrealistic.” (Italian: “Se il Papa che ha portato a termine il Concilio e il Papa più citato dai documenti conciliari venissero beatificati insieme? Non mi pare così irreale.”
Another wrote that the beatification of Pope Pius XII would be simply “an act of justice toward a JUST MAN who saved many, many lives during the National Socialist extermination!” (Italian: “un atto di giustizia nei confronti di un GIUSTO che tante vite salvò durante lo sterrminio nazista!)

A third writer said that the discussion of the beatification of Paul VI and reaction against the possible decision was ignoring the “elephant in the room,” that is, the long delayed cause of Venerable Pope Pius XII, that is, Pope Eugenio Pacelli (Italian: “l’elefante nella stanza, cioè il caso del sommo pontefice venerabile Pio XII, ovvero Papa Pacelli“).

This person, too, suggested that Benedict may decide to beatify Pius alongside Paul VI later this year, as took place when John XXIII (considered a “progressive”) was beatified alongside Pius IX (considered a “conservative”) on September 3, 2000 (Italian: “si potrebbe realizzare ancora una volta un’accoppiata variegata come quella che fu Giovanni XXIII e Pio IX beati in una volta sola.”)

Finally, a commentator asked whether the beatification of “so many Popes” makes sense. “Did not Pius XI (the Pope before Pius XII) and Benedict XV (the Pope during the First World War) also have merits, or not? Is it not perhaps that there is a desire to canonize the Second Vatican Council and to diminish the pre-conciliar Magisterium?” (Italian: “La beatificazione di tanti papi che senso ha? i precedenti, Pio XI e Benedetto XV, han meriti o demeriti? Non è che si voglia canonizzar il Vaticano II e sminuir il Magistero precedente?”)

So there is considerable interest, and some discontent, in Italian Catholic circles in how Pope Benedict will decide to move forward on Paul VI, and when, and whether Benedict will decide to use Paul as a way to place an exclamation point of approval on the Second Vatican Council, or whether he may decide to place Pius XII beside Paul VI at that moment, thus emphasizing the continuity between the pre-conciliar and conciliar magisterium.

Here is a link to the original article by Tornielli.

Dr. Robert Moynihan


Dr. Robert Moynihan is an American and veteran Vatican journalist with knowledge of five languages. He is founder and editor-in-chief of Inside the Vatican magazine.

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  • Why are NOT people out there paying any attention to the facts? The reason why Pius XII is moving slow is the miracle involving his healing of a pregnant woman with a tumor (Maria Espinoza) who spoke to the press about it last summer is still being investigated. Also keep in mind the change in the Yad Hashem memorial earlier this summer. That’s why. I feel that it may longer because of the miracle. INHO it may be John Paul I who may be beatified along with Paul VI as his miracle and cause are already finished October 17.

  • Midwester

    Piu XII is not being beatified but Paul VI will be because the Curia wants to enshrine Vatican II as a legitimate council, even though it has had disastrous consequences for the Church. There is a false church that has emerged within the real Church. God help us all, and have mercy on the souls of Paul VI and his successors.

  • RJH

    This is an act of desperation on the part of the Curia because future generations will see the discontinuity inherit in Vatican II. There is no real cult to Paul VI anywhere in the world. Desperate. Desperate. Desperate.

  • I will reiterate when I said in my last post. What happened after Vatican II in the Church was NOT completely the fault of Venerable Pope Paul. That was exactly why he tried to have his own Year of Faith in the late 1967 and 1968. He did make mistakes as does every Pope but here is the important thing. He did the best he could do as a human can. I see either put up or SHUT UP. The Congregation and the Pope made their choice. Just deal with it and stop complaining about Vatican II (which was John’s idea not Paul’s).

  • Name

    Why is it that some people seem to treat this as a zero-sum game? Outsiders comparing Paul VI to Pius XII and criticizing the review of these men is distasteful, at best. Trust the Church to evaluate the merits of the lives of these great men and, if evidence is found, recognize God’s great mercy on them.

  • Name


  • There is no “false church”.Have you read the 16 docican 2?the problem was post vat 2 certain liberal and modernists heretics infiltrated the church and yes weve seen some very bitter fruits over the last 50 years.But sedavacantism is not the answer but a dead end.When there are crisis in the church all the great saints worked to reform the church from within,not leave the church and become schismatics.Further if there were no valid popes over the last 50 years and the norvus ordo is invalid then the gates of hell have prevailed against the church but Jesus said that will never happen.Last theres would deny the sacraments to millions of Christian catholics who love and obey him over the last 50 years simply because of some liberal heretics.

  • The last sentence is theres no way God would dents to millions of loyal faithful catholic christians over the last 50 years just because some bishops post vat 2 are modernists.The word above is deny not “dents”The first sentence is there is no false church,have you read the 16 documents of vat 2?

  • Midwester


    I never promoted Sedevacantism. I said that there was a false church ensconced within the True Church, and implied that the Popes have either been materially aiding these false apostles, or assisting them by ignoring the problem. I suggest you compare the documents on Ecumenism and Religious Liberty with the Traditional teaching of the Church. You will not find the Ecumenism of Vatican II to be supported by Tradition. Instead, it has been disastrous for the Church. Many, many souls are lost because we no longer spread the Gospel, since “all faiths hold some truth”. In my opinion, Vatican II ushered in the beginning of the mass apostasy predicted by the Apostle Paul in 2Thessalonians.

  • Midwester

    Yes, I’ve read them. I’ve also read the documents from the prior councils. I suggest you read “Animus Delende” by Atila Sinke Guimaraes to read an excellent analysis of the documents of Vatican II. Also, read the prophesies of Anne Cartherine Emmerich regarding these times. She speaks of the need to pray that the Church of Darkness leave Rome. Catholic prophesy supports the view that Rome is plagued by heretical clergy.