NEWS STORY: Pope to Beatify John XXIII and Controversial Pius IX

c. 2000 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ Pope John Paul II on Sunday (Sept. 3) will beatify John XXIII, one of the most beloved of Roman Catholic pontiffs, together with Pius IX, who is among the most controversial. While the decision to beatify John XXIII, raising him to within one step of sainthood, has been greeted with almost universal praise, Jewish groups and secular Italians have energetically protested the elevation of Pius IX to the ranks of the blesseds. Italian pope-watchers call Pius IX “the last pope king” because it was during his papacy that the Vatican was forced to surrender its rule over the papal states of central Italy.