Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the congregation had met, but since the result of the vote still had to be presented to the pope he would not say May 9 what the result was.
Italian newspapers, citing unnamed sources, said the congregation's cardinals and archbishops recommended that Pope Benedict formally recognize that Pope Pius lived the Christian virtues in a heroic manner.
Once the pope issues a decree recognizing heroic virtues, the candidate is referred to as venerable. Before a candidate can be beatified, the pope also must issue a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession. A second miracle is needed for canonization.
The newspaper Corriere della Sera reported May 9 that a minority of the congregation members had voted "no," urging Pope Benedict to delay issuing a decree until there is "a more favorable climate," particularly regarding the ongoing controversy over Pope Pius' actions during World War II.
Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, the promoter of Pope Pius' cause, was out of town May 9 and unavailable for comment.
Pope Pius led the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958; immediately before his election, the then-Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was the
For years, controversy has raged over whether Pope Pius did and said enough in defense of the Jews and other victims of the Nazis.
The May 8 vote of the congregation members was based on a review of a six-volume, 3,000-page "positio" or position paper prepared by the promoters of Pope Pius' sainthood cause. The report, given to the