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Pope Beatifies Nazi Resistant, Mexican Nun, Italian Bishop

A Hungarian bishop who resisted both Nazi occupation and Soviet-backed rule of his country was beatified Sunday by Pope John Paul II, along with an Italian missionary and a Mexican nun.

Beatification is the last formal step before canonization in the Roman Catholic Church. John Paul, an enthusiastic supporter of the church’s practice of promoting saints as models of virtue, has cannonized and beatified more people than all other popes in this century combined.

“One can’t give thanks to God without undertaking Christian works, defending, at every social level, respect and solidarity for our brothers, especially the most defenseless and in need,” the pope said during the ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.

“The example of the newly beatified is ever more eloquent and encouraging.”

Vilmos Apor was born to an old Hungarian noble family. He was the bishop of Gyor when the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944 and worked with the Popular Democratic Catholic Party to lay the groundwork for resistance to the Nazis.

Trains carrying Hungarian Jews bound for Nazi death camps passed through Gyor on their way to the border. The bishop organized food and relief supplies for the deportees.

He was shot to death by Soviet soldiers in 1945 while trying to save a group of female refugees hiding in his church from being raped.

Giovanni Battista Scalabrini was the bishop of Piacenza, Italy, and founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles. He died in 1905, ten years after founding his order. The Scalabrians are now active in 25 countries worldwide.

Sister Dorotea Chavez, a Mexican nun who died in 1949, established communities of nuns at hospitals throughout the Guadalajara region of Mexico and spent more than half a century caring for the sick.

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