- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

Pope John Paul II yesterday moved closer to sainthood two predecessors who stood for the traditional and liberal sides of the Catholic Church.
The Rome ceremony beatified Pius IX, who presided at the First Vatican Council in 1870, and John Paul XXIII, who opened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.
"Divine design has willed the shared beatification of these two popes who lived in very different historical contexts," John Paul said, taking care to defend the 19th-century pope as "much loved, but also hated and slandered."
Pius IX, the longest-reigning modern pope, has been accused of anti-Semitism and took steps to curb dissent against Catholic teaching.
He also led the church at a time when "papal infallibility" was established and when he was confined to the Vatican after the papal states were dissolved and ideologies such an Marxism and anarchism attacked the church.
Pope John Paul XXIII reigned only five years until his death in 1963. The year before, he opened a church council that affirmed other religions, allowed Mass in all languages, authorized liberal religious orders and opened new ministries besides the priesthood.
Beatification is the last step before sainthood.
In St. Peter's Square, 100,000 Catholic faithful cheered the two historic papacies, while the night before Jewish groups and political liberals held a protest vigil.
The American church also has been divided over the apparent fast track to sainthood for the two highly symbolic pontiffs.
Making only John XXIII a saint would signal victory for church liberals, some commentators have said, while Pius IX alone would be a triumph of traditionalism.
"Beatifying a son of the church does not celebrate particular historic choices that he has made, but rather points him out for imitation and for veneration for his virtue," John Paul II said yesterday.
The Jesuit magazine America challenged the beatification of Pius IX by asking for whom he would be a Christian model besides "militant traditionalists."
In the article, the Rev. John O'Malley noted that in the 1800s popes sprang from nobility and that Pius IX was the "last king pope," a liberal who turned conservative against modernity and the first media pope, portrayed worldwide as a "prisoner" in the Vatican.
In contrast, John XXIII came from Italian peasants and was called the "good pope," rotund and smiling, though in hindsight some Catholic scholars say he let liberals gain too much control over Vatican II.
At the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va., yesterday, Bishop Paul S. Loverde said that most Catholics probably do not know the exact histories and challenges of each papacy.
He said that John XXIII suffered from cancer and hoped the pain could be used for divine purposes, and "Pius IX too labored under many difficulties," he said.
Beatification and sainthood stand for a person's "approximation to holiness," not their most difficult political judgments, Bishop Loverde said.
"In the lives of saints we can find different temperaments," he said. "It is not so much the approval of the way each responded to his age. We run that risk of judging an earlier time by the knowledge we have later, and that's unfair."
John Paul also beatified three monks, raising the number of such honors to 985 in his 22-year papacy.
Popes began granting sainthood in 1594 after centuries of popular vote. Since then, of 592 saints, John Paul has canonized half.
One miracle is needed for beatification usually a healing by prayers in the name of the proposed saint and another miracle or martyrdom is required for sainthood.
The Anti-Defamation League yesterday called the ceremony "troubling," and cited Pius IX's comment that Jews were "dogs," his enforcement of a Jewish "ghetto" in Rome, and his defense of the 1858 kidnapping of 6-year-old Jewish boy who had been baptized.
"While ADL respects the beatification process as a matter for the Catholic Church alone, we find the selection of Pius IX as inappropriate based on policies he pursued," said National Director Abraham H. Foxman.

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