The pope declares Pope Pius XII and John Paul II "venerable"
Benedict XVI recognizes the "heroic virtues" of the two popes, paving the way for their beatification. Also approved the martyrdom of the Polish priest Fr Popielusko and a miracle attributed to Mary McKillop (Australia).

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pius XII, the pope who led the Church during the Second World War, and John Paul II, who died in 2005, are now "Venerable" because Benedict XVI signed the decree by which he acknowledges their "heroic virtues".  

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints today published a series of decrees in which the pontiff recognizes 5 miracles attributed to several people (including the venerable Mary McKillop, Australia) and also recognizes the "heroic virtues" of a further 10 people between among them the two popes.

 These decrees pave the way for their beatification, as soon as there is the recognition of a miracle attributed to them.  

Another decree recognizes the martyrdom of the Polish priest, Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, killed by the communist police in 1984.  

Also today, Benedict XVI met with all the members of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints for celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the dicastery.  In his address, citing the various stages leading to the canonization of a candidate, the pope said: "In the first instance, the People of God are invited to look at those brothers who, after an initial careful discernment, are proposed as models of Christian life; the a cult of veneration and invocation confined within local churches or religious orders is urged; finally, we are called to rejoice with the whole community of believers in the certainty that, thanks to solemn papal proclamation, a son or daughter has reached the glory of God, where they participate in perpetual intercession of Christ in favour of his or her brethren (cf. Heb 7:25). "