By Simon Caldwell
19 Jan 2010
An unnamed man in Castellammare di Stabia in the south of Italy has claimed he was inexplicably healed from incurable prostate cancer after he prayed to the wartime pope. After examining the patient's medical records the Vatican has asked the Archbishop of Sorrento, Felice Cece, to set up a diocesan tribunal to investigate the claims further. If the Vatican ultimately approves a miracle the way will be clear for the beatification of Pius, after which he will be declared "Blessed". A further miracle will be needed to canonise the Pope as a saint. Such a move, ahead of the opening of the Vatican's wartime archives in 2013, will be hugely controversial, however, because historians remain divided about whether Pius did enough to save European Jews from the Holocaust. On Sunday, Riccardo Pacifici, the president of Rome's Jewish community, told Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Rome's synagogue that "the silence of Pius XII before the Shoah still hurts because something should have been done". However other Jews, such as Sir Martin Gilbert, the British historian and the world's leading expert on the Holocaust, claim that Pius should be considered "a Righteous Gentile" because he quietly saved thousands of lives by hiding Jews in the monasteries and convents of Rome.