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A Reappreciation of Pope Pius IX

On Feb. 7, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, more popularly known of Blessed Pope Pius IX (who reigned as pope 1846-1878.) His cause for canonization, compared to many modern popes, especially those who have reigned since the Second Vatican Council, has been rather long. Pope St. Pius X introduced Pius IX’s cause for canonization in 1907 and Pius X’s successors, Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI, had closed the cause. Ven. Pope Pius XII reintroduced it and it lay fallow until the recognition of a miracle of Pius IX by Pope St. John Paul II in 1985. And, in fact, it is Pope St. John Paul II who beatified Pius IX in 2000.

This delay in canonization should not cause concern. To be honest, it is the normal path for most saints. And the attacks on Blessed Pius IX from many sides, both from within and from without the Church, should cause us little concern as well.

As you might recall, there was great controversy last year surrounding Vittorio Messori’s book, Kidnapped by the Vatican? The Unpublished Memoirs of Edgardo Mortara. I was asked by Homiletics and Pastoral Review to read and review this text. Mortara was allegedly “kidnapped by the Vatican,” a young Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy, then part of the Papal States, who was baptized a Catholic by his nanny and later taken away, as was the law in the Papal States, to be raised in the faith. This young man was later ordained a priest. There are some questions concerning the veracity of the text used by Messori. In my own book review, I stated as a final assessment the following about the text:

 If a person wants to form an opinion on this difficult case of Father Mortara or an opinion of this value of this text by Messori, then he or she should read this book. The veracity of the translation will work itself out eventually. The more important questions (for example, should a baptized Catholic child whose parents refuse to raise him or her in the Catholic faith be forced to do so? What does this historical event mean for us today? What does it say about Catholic-Jewish relations? What does it say about the Church and civil power? How should we read past events in history in light of contemporary developments?) are ones that intelligent, prayerful, faithful people need to ponder. Messori’s book, in spite of and perhaps because of the controversy (and with the theological questions of grace and the sacraments that arise from it) is worth the read for the intelligent Catholic interested in history and sacraments.

Read more at National Catholic Register 

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