Poles On Path To Sainthood

Pope Benedict XVI has moved another step away from beatification ceremonies, asking Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw to preside in Poland over the beatification of three Polish priests.

In mid-May Pope Benedict had the prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes celebrate the beatifications of Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai and a Spanish nun, although the pope later met with the pilgrims who had come from Hawaii, New York, Spain and Peru for the ceremony.

No plans have been made for the pope to meet the Polish pilgrims who will attend the Warsaw Mass June 19 for the beatification of three priests, including Father Wladyslaw Findysz, the first Pole to be recognized by the Catholic Church as a martyr of communism.

The two other priests to be beatified are Father Bronislaw Markiewicz, founder of the priests and the sisters of St. Michael the Archangel, and Father Ignacy Klopotowski, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto.

Pope John Paul II approved the decrees recognizing Father Findysz's martyrdom and a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Markiewicz in December; the beatification ceremony originally was scheduled for April.

When Pope John Paul died, all beatification ceremonies were put on hold. Then the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict, in an attempt to highlight the difference between a beatification and a canonization, would preside only over ceremonies in which saints were declared.

In addition to nominating Cardinal Glemp to preside over the June beatifications, Pope Benedict also granted a dispensation in Father Klopotowksi's cause. In December, Pope John Paul formally recognized that the priest had lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way, but the decree recognizing a miracle attributed to his intercession had not been completed.

A Vatican official said June 13 that the Vatican's boards of physicians and theologians had recognized the miracle, so Pope Benedict waived the need for the formal decree in order to allow the beatification to take place during the Warsaw Mass.

Father Klopotowski, who lived 1866-1931, worked with orphans and troubled youths.

Father Markiewicz was a Salesian who lived 1842-1912. He, too, had dedicated his life to young people.

The cause of Father Findysz, 1907-64, was the subject of special scrutiny at the Vatican. He was declared a martyr of the communist regime, although the government did not execute him.

Accused of violating people's freedom of conscience by encouraging them to follow the teachings of their Catholic faith, Father Findysz was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to 36 months in prison just before he was due to undergo an operation to remove a tumor in his esophagus.

His lawyers petitioned the court to allow him access to medical treatment, but by the time he was released his health had deteriorated to the point where the cancer was inoperable. He died six months later at age 56.

Members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes found that he "was arrested and condemned by the authorities of the communist regime on account of his proclamation of the Gospel. What is more, the imprisonment and the physical and spiritual suffering he endured were directly responsible for his death," the Vatican Web site said.

Issuing the martyrdom decree in December, Pope John Paul agreed with the congregation's findings.