Francis may address faithful at martyrs' beatification in Spain

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Pope Francis may address via satellite those gathered on October 13 for the beatification of 480 martyrs of the 20th century in Tarragona, Spain, according to representatives of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.

The secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, and Archbishop Jaume Pujol of Tarragona, said the beatification would begin with a satellite connection with the Vatican to join Pope Francis in the recitation of the Angelus, after which the Holy Father might address the faithful gathered for the ceremony.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, will preside at the beatification, along with Archbishop Pujol and Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid. Between 15,000 and 20,000 people are expected to attend.

Bishop Martinez Camino told reporters that the number of martyrs to be beatified could increase, since the Pope may sign other causes of martyrs on their way to being recognized as saints.

The 480 martyrs include three bishops, 70 diocesan priests, three seminarians, 391 religious and four members of the laity. Tarragona was chosen as the site of the ceremony because 147 of the 480 martyrs were from there.

Bishop Martinez Camino said the beatification is part of the Church’s pastoral plan for the Year of Faith. 

He said that the martyrs are being recognized because they “were firm and courageous witnesses of the faith. Because they would not renounce it, even though they could have lived by only uttering one word of scorn towards their faith, and instead preferred to die rather than betraying their love for Jesus and his Church.” 

The bishop also read a letter from one of the martyred priests, who wrote to his family shortly before his death that he forgave everyone involved in his persecution.

Bishop Martinez Camino said these martyrs are not martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, but of the Christian persecution that took place in 20th century Europe. 

“The 20th century was the century of martyrs,” he said. “There were more during that time than in 2000 years of Christianity.”

He added, however, that “the Church is not seeking to cast blame with these beatifications, but rather to honor the witnesses of the faith.”

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