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Pope beatifies Nazi martyr

Among the seven candidates beatified by Pope John Paul II yesterday was a German trade unionist and journalist executed by the Nazis in 1945.

Nikolaus Gross, born in Niederwenigern in 1889, was enrolled as a young worker in a Christian labour union, and founded the first youth groups of the Miners' Christian Movement. He enrolled in the Catholic Workers' Movement in 1918, where he was noted for his dedication and perseverance in seeing the organization's social claims implemented.

In 1927 Gross was appointed editor of the workers newspaper until it was closed down by the Nazis in 1938. He then became an active opponent of Nazism, expressing his thoughts in two articles which led to his arrest and execution.

In statements on Vatican Radio, attorney Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause of beatification, explained Gross' willingness to undergo martyrdom, quoting one of his last writings: "Only when we have given proof of faithfulness to God can we possess God forever and for all eternity."