Someone recently said to me (or did I read it somewhere?) that they can understand the cause of John XXIII and John Paul II and Mother Teresa being pushed along at the rate of knots because of popular veneration and cult (the historical way in which canonisation was driven), but they could not understand why Pius XII was being pushed for canonisation. They said that when they visited the tombs of the popes in St Peter’s, there were always flowers and crowds at the tombs of John XXIII and John Paul II, but non and no-one at that of Pius XII. There is, they said, no cult of Pius XII that would indicated a popular desire for his canonisation.
But consider these two statements:
“The position of the successor of the Prince of the Apostles held, and for many Catholic Christians still holds, a place of great veneration. During the final years of the reign of John Paul II, that veneration came alarmingly clos to a personality cult.”
“Western politicians saw John Paul II as the greatest anti-communist crusader of the day.”
I expect you would not find these two opinions overstated?
In fact, both statements come from Paul O’Shea’s book “A Cross Too Heavy”, and I did the “naughty” thing of exchanging the name of John Paul II for Pius XII, about whom O’Shea actually wrote these things. If we consider the veneration in which John Paul II is now held, and his impact on the politics of Western Europe, as a parallel to the situation in the late 50′ and early 1960’s with Pius XII, we can perhap understand why the cause for Pius’ canonisation was already begun within a few years of his death. BEFORE any of the damning accusations began to be voiced in 1963.
It is worth remembering that there WAS a cult of Pius XII (still is, in some circles) which started the process off. The fact that later accusations, and a change of tenor in the Chuch after the Second Vatican Council, changed the situation somewhat, does not change the fact that the cause had already begun, and was continued throughout the last fifty years. It was inevitable that, once begun, the process of investigation had to continue through to its conclusion as it now has. Where it goes from here is, as I have said before, in God’s hands.