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Pope Beatifies Monk Who Rejected Fascism

Mon., May 13, 1996

The pope beatified on Sunday an Italian cardinal who first supported fascism then turned against it on the eve of World War II.

The beatification of Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster, archbishop of Milan from 1929 until his death in 1954, was the last step before possible sainthood for the ascetic Benedictine monk.

Schuster was a strong supporter of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in the 1920s and early 1930s, once praising in a homily the regime’s invasion of Ethiopia.

But he turned against the regime when it began adopting anti-Semitic laws in the late 1930s and grew closer to Hitler’s Germany. In 1938, he declared the racial laws “a sort of heresy.” Mussolini’s secret police declared him an enemy in 1943.

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