Pope Francis launches sainthood case for three Argentine priests with Irish connections
The priests of St. Patrick’s were shot by police during the military dictatorship
Although not of Irish descent, Father Peter Dufau also made Ireland his second home, studying philosophy in Thurles and going on to Rome. He was ordained in 1933 and dedicated his service to school and parishes in Argentina.
Pope Francis was criticized for allowing two of his priests to die during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, however, the AP point out he also saved many others by saving them from aligning with the junta leaders.
The St. Patrick’s Church massacre occurred just three months after the military seized control of the government and cracked down on “subversives.” The military claimed that “subversives” killed the priests, despite evidence that pointed to the fact that they were killed in revenge of the bombing of a police station, which killed 20 people.
After the fact, Pio Laghi, the Vatican's top diplomat in Argentina, told US Ambassador Robert Hill that the police killed the priests, and that that a top junta official had warned that they intended to "clean up the Catholic church."
In a secret cable to Washington, Laghi wrote that he feared their murders “may presage a wave of right-wing terror worse than anything we have seen before."
However, the Church seemed to bow down before the junta saying they believed violent leftists were responsible.
Years later witnesses emerged naming various suspects as the gunmen and a military document emerged describing the killings as unauthorized but justified. No one has ever been prosecuted.
Capalozza, who also lived at St Patrick’s escaped death that night as he was staying with his parents. He told the Associated Press “Kelly told me and other colleagues, at a dinner on that July 3 at the parish, that he feared for his life because there was a letter floating around calling him a communist.”
"We talked a lot about the situation in the country and they all had different opinions; they weren't killed because of their ideology or politics but because they preached the gospel of life in a time when life was being threatened.”
Sainthood would be "a just response" to their deaths.
According to Pallottines.ie, “They shot them in the back with machine guns and other weapons. They fell, face down. The murderers kept firing. Some of the victims received more than seventy bullet wounds as they breathed their last.”
In 2005 Bergoglio approved the sainthood investigation. He said “I am a witness, because I was with Alfie in his spiritual guidance, in his confession, until his death. He only thought of God. And I name him because I am a witness to his heart, and when I mention him I mention all of them.”
Three three priest will be classed as martyrs. Ordinarily to become a saint there must be proof of two miracles, however dying for one’s faith counts as one. Eventually it will be a Vatican tribune and the Pope himself who makes the decision on their fate.
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