Today's Dark Moment in Catholic History : LUSENET : Catholicism -- Uncensored : One Thread

Yet another dark moment in Catholic history. Present historians condemn it; future historians will wonder at its shame: Another rank anti-Semite beatified.

Saturday September 2 3:33 PM ET Jewish Groups Protest Pius IX Beatification

By Luke Baker

ROME (Reuters) - More than 300 Jews and reformist Catholics protested in Rome on Saturday against the beatification of Pius IX, a controversial and ultra-conservative 19th century pope accused of anti-Semitism.

Polish-born Pope John Paul is due to beatify Pius IX, the last ''Pope King'' who reigned from 1846 to 1878, along with the much-loved 20th century reformist Pope John XXIII on Sunday.

Beatification is the penultimate step before elevation to sainthood by the Roman Catholic church.

``Pius's beatification is quite simply a scandal,'' Enrico Modigliani, a member of the board of Rome's Jewish community and a former member of the Italian parliament, told Reuters.

``In a year when the Church has made an effort to apologize for the treatment of the Jews, it is not right to beatify Pius IX, who was one of the worst anti-Semites,'' he added.

On the other side of the city to the protest, a group of Catholic traditionalists held a much smaller gathering in favor of Pius's beatification, arguing that he did much to strengthen and enhance the Papal legacy.

The move to beatify Pius IX has been widely interpreted as intended to reconcile reformist and traditionalist branches of the Church. But reformists are unhappy that he will be beatified alongside John XXIII.

``You can't believe in the spiritual motivation for Pius's beatification when the act is so obviously political,'' said Abbot Giovanni Franzoni, the head of the Church of St Paul Outside the Walls.

Pius, who adamantly opposed religious tolerance and defined the doctrine of Papal infallibility, referred to Jews as ``dogs'' and once had a Jewish boy kidnapped from his home, forcing him to be brought up as a Roman Catholic.

On June 23, 1858, papal police in Bologna entered the home of the Mortaras, a Jewish family, snatched six-year-old Edgardo, and took him to Rome. He went on to become a priest.

Beatification Of ``Popes Apart''

John XXIII was a markedly different character. Sunday's ceremony has been referred to as the beatification of the ``Popes apart.''

John, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, called the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which thrust the Church into the modern world, ended the Latin mass and gave bishops more power.

While one of Pius's favorite phrases was ``I am the Church. I am the tradition,'' John liked to listen to new ideas and told visitors: ``Let's talk man-to-man. I have two eyes and two ears just like you.''

When John, dubbed ``the good Pope'' died in 1963, it seemed all of Rome was in tears.

When Pius died, on the other hand, his coffin was mobbed by a group of nationalists, angry at his opposition to Italian unity, who tried to throw it into the Tiber.

-- Frederick Sharpe (, September 03, 2000


-- (, September 19, 2001.

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