- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2001

VATICAN CITY (AP) With an appeal for an end to terrorism in today's Spain, Pope John Paul II beatified a record number of candidates for sainthood 233 nuns, priests and lay people who died in Spain's civil war.
The biggest-ever batch of beatifications yesterday reflects the pontiff's determination to give his faithful lots of role models, including many from modern times. The previous record of beatifications in one ceremony was the 1877 beatification of 206 Japanese martyrs by Pius IX.
Beatification is the last step before possible sainthood, or canonization.
The Spaniards who were beatified yesterday were among hundreds who died at the hands of leftists waging anticlerical campaigns during the 1936-39 civil war. They were declared martyrs by the pope.
Beatification usually requires the Vatican's certification of a miracle in which the person intercedes between humans and God. In the case of martyrdom, that requirement is waived.
Strong applause rang out when John Paul, reading his homily in Spanish, invoked the names of the newly beatified in a plea for an end to terrorism blamed on Basque separatists in Spain.
"Terrorism is born of hatred and in turn feeds it," John Paul said, his voice sounding tired and at times quite hoarse during the two-hour ceremony. "No motive, no cause or ideology can justify it. Only peace can build peoples. Terror is the enemy of humanity."
Since a cease-fire ended a little more than a year ago, 22 killings have been blamed on the ETA separatist group, which wants to carve out a Basque homeland in the land straddling France and Spain. Since its struggle began in 1968, ETA has claimed some 800 killings.
Almost all of those beatified yesterday died in 1936 in the province of Valencia at the hands of leftist forces battling Gen. Francisco Franco. A few others were from Catalonia.
The civil war broke out when Gen. Franco led a revolt against Spain's leftist democratic government. Gen. Franco won the war, which claimed about 500,000 lives.
With the latest beatification, John Paul has beatified 1,227 people in more than 100 ceremonies. He has raised 447 candidates to sainthood since he became pope in 1978.
In comparison, in the previous four centuries a total of 1,310 candidates were beatified and 300 raised to sainthood.
John Paul called the latest group to be beatified a "model of coherence of life, constancy in faith and reconciliatory spirit."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide