BUCHAREST – Pope Francis warned of the colonization of an ideology that aims to alienate people, as happened in the past, during the beatification of seven martyrs in Romania on Sunday.
On the last leg of his apostolic visit to Romania, the pontiff celebrated the Divine Liturgy and beatified seven Greek bishops who were tortured during the communist regime (1947-1989).
“These lands know well how greatly people suffer when an ideology or a regime takes over, setting itself up as a rule for the very life and faith of people, diminishing and even eliminating their ability to make decisions, their freedom and their room for creativity,” the pope said.
“Brothers and sisters, you were forced to endure a way of thinking and acting that showed contempt for others and led to the expulsion and killing of the defenseless and the silencing of dissenting voices,” the Argentine added.
“I think in particular of the seven Greek-Catholic Bishops whom I have had the joy of beatifying,” the pope said.
“In the face of fierce opposition from the regime, they demonstrated an exemplary faith and love for their people,” Pope Francis continued. “With great courage and interior fortitude, they accepted harsh imprisonment and every kind of mistreatment, in order not to deny their fidelity to their beloved Church.”
“These pastors, martyrs for the faith, re-appropriated and handed down to the Romanian people a precious legacy that we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy.”
The ceremony took place in “Liberty Field” in the central city of Blaj.
One of the blessed bishops, Ioan Suciu (born in Blaj, 1907), was arrested for refusing to join the orthodox church. He died in the Sighet prison in 1953, where he was tortured, starved and forced to withstand freezing conditions.
Monsignor Iuliu Hossu (born in Milas, 1885) was arrested by the communist government in 1948 and was deprived of freedom until his death in 1970.
Bishop Vasile Aftenie (born in Lodroman, 1899) was arrested in 1948 and confined to the Orthodox Monastery of Caldarusani, which has been turned into a concentration camp. A year later he was mutilated tortured and imprisoned until his death in 1950.
Ioan Balan (born in Teius, 1880) refused to transfer to the Orthodox Church and, like other bishops, was arrested in Caldarusani in 1949 and forced to live isolated in a cell until he died in 1959.
Valeriu Traian Frentiu (born in Resita, 1875) died in Sighet in 1952, two years after his arrest after being tortured recurrently. He was buried in a mass grave in the Cemetery of the Poor to deter pilgrimages to his tomb.
Tit Liviu Chinezu (born in Huduc in 1904) also died in Sighet in 1955 after years of forced labor.
Bishop Alexandru Rusu (born in Saulia, 1884) was condemned to 15 years of forced labor in 1957 for high treason. Seven years later, he became ill and died in prison.