Pope Francis Oks beatifications of seven Greek-Catholic bishops from Romania, victims of communist prisons

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Pope Francis has Okayed on Tuesday the promulgation of decrees to acknowledge the martyrdom of seven Greek-Catholic bishops who were killed in the Romanian communist prisons or due to the communist regime’s torture during 1950-1970, Vatican News reports. The seven bishops, Valeriu Traian Frenţiu, Vasile Aftenie, Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu, Ioan Bălan, Alexandru Rusu and Iuliu Hossu, victims of religious hate crimes in various prisons in Romania, will be beatified on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit in Romania, in Blaj.

Valeriu Traian Frențiu, Greek-Catholic bishop of Lugoj until 1922 and of Oradea, where he was arrested in October 1948 and taken to the work camp in Dragoslavele and then in the penitentiary of Sighet in 1959. After two years of the inhuman treatment that the  communists have applied on him, Frentiu die in July 1952. He was buried in secret in a mass grave.

Vasile Aftenie, rector of the Theological Academy in Blaj and bishop at the Blaj Cathedral, was arrested in October 1948, taken to Dragoslavele then to Caldarusani Monastery. In May 1949 he was transferred and isolated at the Ministry of Interior, tortured and imprisoned to Vacaresti prison, where he died on may 10, 1950.

Ioan Suciu was doctor on theology, professor at Blaj Academy and named auxiliary bishop in Oradea in May 1940. He was also imprisoned in Dragoslavele, Caldarusani Monastery and in October 1950 to the penitentiary in Sighetu Marmatiei. Due to the isolation regime, his stomach disease, to cold and hunger, he died in June 1953. He was buried in the cemetery of the poor, with the precise place still unknown today.

Tit Liviu Chinezu, bishop in Blaj, was arrested in October 1948 and taken to the Neamt monastery, together with other 25 Greek-Catholic priests. He was transferred to the Penitentiary in Sighetu Marmatiei where he died on January 15, 1955. His burial place is also not known.

Ioan Bălan was rector of the Academy in Blaj, and the delegate in the Vatican Committee and bishop of Lugoj in 1936. He was arrested in October 1948 and imprisoned in the Sighetu Marmatiei Penitentiary. He was isolated to the Monastery in Curtea de Arges in 1955 and in 1956 to the nuns Orthodox monastery in Ciorogarla. Seriously ill, he died in a hospital in Bucharest in August 1959.

Alexandru Rusu was bishop of Maramures in 1931 and appointed Metropolitan in 1946, recognized by the Holy See, but not recognized by the government back then. He was arrested in October 1948 and taken to the prisons in Dragoslavele, Caldarusani and Sighetu Marmatiei. He survived the prison and was isolated to Cocos Monastery. In 1957 the Military Tribunal sentenced him to 25 years of hard labor for instigation and high treason, ending up in Gherla penitentiary. He got really sick in the spring of 1953 and he died on May 9, the same year.

Cardinal Iuliu Hossu, doctor in theology and philosophy and is named bishop of Gherla in 1917. He was the one who read the Statement of Union on the Blaj Plain on December 1, 1918. In 1930 he became Bishop of Cluj-Gherla.

He was arrested on October 28, 1948 and arrived in the penitentiary in Sighetu Marmatiei in 1950. He was confined to several monasteries in the 50s until he reached the one in Caldarusani where he stayed until his death. He was named „in pectore” cardinal in April 1969. He died on May 28, 1970 at Colentina Hospital in Bucharest. His last words became notorious: „My fight is over, yours is going on”.

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