DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     November 5, 1998     vol. 9, no. 217

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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ISRAELI AMBASSADOR SCOLDED FOR REMARKS ON PIUS XII

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Aharon Lopez, yesterday suggested that the Catholic Church should shelve plans to pursue the cause for beatification of Pope Pius XII, because of the controversy that cause might provoke. Father Peter Gumpel, the postulator for the cause of Pius XII, quickly responded that the Israeli diplomat's remarks were "imprudent, at the least."

          While recognizing that beatification and canonization are "absolute prerogatives of the Church," and that "no one should intervene" in the process, Lopez went on to say that the papacy of Pius XII had given rise to many disputes, specifically involving his role in opposing the Nazi plans to exterminate Jews. Out of respect for the survivors of the Holocaust, he continued, the Church should postpone any plans for beatification for at least 50 years. He also renewed calls by the Israeli government for an opening of the Vatican archives covering that era-- although the Holy See has repeatedly explained that such archives always remain closed for several decades after the events they cover.

          Father Gumpel, in his response to the Lopez remarks, observed that Lopez "can say anything he wants." But the process of beatification has nothing to do with politics or diplomacy, he pointed out, and therefore it is beyond the ambassador's competence. Father Ciro Benedettini, the deputy director of the Vatican press office, also pointed out that the beatification process is conducted along previously established lines, and will not be sidetracked.

          Father Gumpel also pointed out that the documents collected for the beatification proceedings show that during the years of his papacy, Pope Pius XII was recognized by Jewish leaders and Israeli government officials for his efforts to save Jewish lives, and many Israeli leaders-- most notably former Prime Minister Golda Meir-- went on record with their expressions of thanks to the Pope.

          On other topics, the Israeli ambassador was more diplomatic in his public remarks. Asked to comment on the statement by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran that the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem was "illegal," Lopez declined to respond, saying that he would pursue that question through the appropriate diplomatic channels.


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Nov 5, 1998       volume 9, no. 217
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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