Vatican slams priest's comments on wartime pope

The Vatican has condemned as "unjustified and inopportune" a claim by a church official that pressure from Jewish organizations is delaying the beatification of Pope Pius XII, the wartime pontiff who critics say didn't do enough to stop the Holocaust. The Vatican issued a statement Friday, saying that it is "exclusively" up to the pope to decide on a beatification, which is the last step before sainthood, and that Benedict "must be left completely free in his considerations and decisions." Jewish leaders also criticized the priest's comments, with Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni denying that Jews were responsible for any delay. Pius' beatification "is first of all an internal problem of the church," Di Segni told ANSA. "It is clearly a complex matter that divides the church itself."