Pope John Paul defended his newly beatified predecessor on Monday, describing Pope Pius IX as a misunderstood man who "never failed to be indulgent toward his enemies."
    The noble-born, 19th-century Pius took delight in preaching "as a simple priest" and going about to "meet the people on the streets of Rome," John Paul told pilgrims who lingered in Rome after Sunday's beatifications.
    John Paul beatified Pius alongside the 20th-century's much-beloved Pope John XXIII and three other church figures before an estimated crowd of 100,000 in St. Peter's Square. Jewish groups, an Israeli cabinet minister and others protested the recognition of Pius.
    Meanwhile, Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in the US commented: "It violates the spirit created by His Holiness's pilgrimage to the Holy Land and of other statements made by John Paul that in this Jubilee year the slate should be cleaned of all controversies in the Catholic-Jewish relationship."
    The Holy Father did not directly respond on Monday to the criticism of the beatification. But he did say that Pius IX was "particularly attentive about the Holy Land," and had wanted to re-establish the Catholic patriarchate in Jerusalem.
6 Sep 00

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