VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II conducted the largest ever beatification on March 11, for 233 martyrs of religious persecution in 1930s Spain.
He entrusted to their intercession an end to the country’s modern-day scourge of Basque terrorism.
As 30,000 mostly Spanish pilgrims in St Peter’s Square interrupted him with sustained applause, the Pope said terrorism is “the enemy of humanity” and an inherently losing tactic.
“Terrorism is born of hate and in turn feeds it; it is radically unjust and increases the situations of injustice; and it seriously offends against God and the dignity and rights of persons,” he said.
“No motive, no cause or ideology can justify it,” he said.
Basque terrorists in northern Spain have killed about 800 people in their three-decade campaign for a separate homeland.
The martyrs recognised at the March 11 ceremony included priests, nuns and lay men and women who were killed between 1936 and 1939 in Spain’s civil war.
Though they died at the hands of militants in a period of civil conflict, the Pope said the martyrs were targeted solely for their religious beliefs.