By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tNews that Pope Pius XII is now a step closer to sainthood has reignited debate over the wartime pontiff, and non-experts could be forgiven for thinking there’s a pretty big hole in most discussion. Whether or not Pius was “silent” on the Holocaust, the obvious question is: Why would the church want to make him a saint in the first place?t
tThere is, of course, an abundant literature on the role of Pius XII during the Second World War, and plenty of reasonably neutral observers believe the evidence doesn’t support an indictment. To say that Pius XII was not “Hitler’s Pope”, however, is hardly the same thing as placing a halo on his head.
tLacking any clear sense of what the positive case might be for canonizing Pius XII, many people might reasonably ask that if sainthood is sure to offend a broad swath of Jewish opinion, and to create yet another black eye for the church in PR terms, why do it? At least, why do it now?