, Pope Benedict elevated John Paul II and Pius XII to the status of “venerable” on Saturday, moving the two popes closer to beatification. These were two of 21 decrees made public by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
The Holy Father confirmed a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed André Bessette, founder of Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. Popularly known as “Brother Andre” the blessed was born south of Montréal in 1845 and died in 1937. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1982.
John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, served as pope from 1978 until he died in 2005. Historians attribute the fall of Communism in great part to the Polish Pope, who now awaits the approval of a miracle before he can be beatified. The now-venerable John Paul II would require a second approved miracle before he could be canonized as a Saint.
The second Pope declared venerable on Saturday, Pius XII, served as pontiff from 1939 through 1958. Eugenio Pacelli steered the Church through the stormy years of the Second World War and is often criticized for remaining silent in face of the Jewish Holocaust. Other historians point to evidence that he served an important role in helping save thousands of Jews.
Benedict XVI also confirmed a miracle attributed to Blessed Mary MacKillop. Sister MacKillop was born in a suburb of Melborne in 1842 and died at the age of 67. She helped to found the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, a religious order of women dedicated to the service of the poor. In part because of her innovative ministry she was excommunicated in 1871, though this was later overturned. If canonized as anticipated, she will become Australia’s first saint.
Salt and Light recently produced documentaries about two of those featured in Saturday’s decrees: Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust
and Mary MacKillop: Australia’s First Saint