Pope beatifies WWI emperor

In the Catholic Church, beatification is the last formal step before the possible conferring of sainthood, and John Paul has now beatified a record 1,338 faithful in his quest to give believers new models of sanctity.

Emperor Karl I took the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1916 and worked for peace, abdicating at the end of the war and dying in exile on the island of Madeira in 1922.

The emperor attempted unsuccessfully to save the Austro-Hungarian monarchy by proclaiming an Austrian federative state, but Hungary and Czechoslovakia declared their independence instead.

Critics have said the Vatican had no business honouring a leader whose troops used mustard gas, but some historians say he sought to limit use of the gas, angering his own military commanders.

Before some 30,000 people, the pontiff also beatified an Italian nun who worked with sick children in Latin America, a French contemplative monk, and a French priest who founded an order of nuns.

But it was the choices of Karl I and mystical Sister Anna Katharina Emmerick which has stirred the latest controversy.

A miracle is required for beatification, and the Vatican concluded that in Emperor Karl’s case, a healing of varicose veins after a Brazilian nun prayed to the monarch for help was due to his divinity. For Sister Emmerick’s, the recovery from tuberculosis in 1860 of a nun in Germany helped meet the requirement.

Sister Emmerick, a German mystic whose violent visions of Christ’s suffering helped inspire Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, suffered from inexplicable bleeding wounds similar to those Jesus suffered at crucifixion.

Mr Gibson has spoken of how a book recounting her visions inspired him in making his blockbuster movie, with its minutes-long shots of Jesus’ bloodied flesh. The Church’s choice to honour Sister Emmerick irritated some already unhappy about the Vatican’s enthusiasm for a film some called anti-Semitic because it might be seen as depicting Jews as the major force behind Christ’s death.

John Paul’s campaign for new role models has generated controversy in the past, including the case of Edith Stein, a Jew who converted to Catholicism and who perished in Auschwitz. The pontiff made her a saint in 1998. Also sensitive are recent efforts aimed at beatifying Pius XII, the World War II pontiff accused by some Jewish groups of not doing enough to prevent the Holocaust.

The others beatified today were Maria Ludovica De Angelis, who died in 1962; Joseph-Marie Cassant, who lived from 1878-1903; and Pierre Vigne, who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Posted in 上海性息网