Pope Faces Politics of Sainthood

Pius also fostered the Catholic dogmas of papal infallibility and the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception, linking them in a way that Pope John Paul II called a “service to the faith” in 1996.

At the time, Pius’ proclamation of papal infallibility prompted bitterly opposed dissenters to break away from the church — the church’s last major schism until the one that followed John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council.

Reform Under John XXIII

The council went on to override much of Pius’ Syllabus of Errors in an effort to make the church more accessible to ordinary people. The innovations included allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages rather than Latin.

The liberalization John XXIII set in motion makes him a mistaken leader in the eyes of many church conservatives.

In Italy, however, Catholics are hanging crepe ribbons and balloons to celebrate his relatively quick-paced beatification. The peasant-born John is still known here as simply “The Good Pope” — more for his kindly manner than for any matter of church doctrine.

Ironically, John XXIII’s cause for beatification long had been counterbalanced with that of another conservative Pius, the World War II-era Pius XII.

But Jewish groups increasingly protested what they said was Pius XII’s silence against the Holocaust, and church officials quietly let it be known this year that the wartime pope’s beatification was off the calendar for 2000.

Pius IX’s, with its then less-known Jewish issues, moved up.

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