Murderedpriests on path to sainthood
Before he became Pope Francis, Argentina's Catholic leader took the first steps toward granting sainthood status to priests and other Catholics who were murdered in July 1976 as Argentina's dictatorship was killing thousands of so-called subversives.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, confirmed yesterday that it was Jorge Bergoglio who approved the beatification cause of Carlos de Dios Murias, a Franciscan priest killed in Argentina's La Rioja province, where his mission had challenged the interests of powerful local leaders.
A fellow Franciscan priest, a Frenchman named Gabriel Longueville, was found alongside Murias. Both had their eyes gouged out and hands cut off, allegedly after being kidnapped by a military death squad.
A Catholic lay worker who collaborated with them, Wenceslao Pedernera, was found beaten to death days later. The diocese of La Rioja province has been working on a sainthood case for all three since 2011. Only now has Argentina's justice system put the alleged suspects on trial.
Lombardi said that as leader of Argentina's bishops, Bergoglio also approved a sainthood investigation for five Pallotine churchmen killed at St Patrick's Church in Buenos Aires. Fathers Alfredo Kelly, Alfredo Leaden and Pedro Dufau and their seminarians Salvador Berbeito and Emilio Barletti were shot to death by a right-wing hit squad.
The killers left graffiti saying the deaths were in revenge for a leftist guerrilla bombing of a police station two days earlier that had killed 18 people.