|Poland||POPE BEATIFIES 110 POLES, INCLUDING NAZI MARTYRS|
Pope John Paul on Sunday conducted one of the biggest mass beatification ceremonies of his pontificate, honouring 110 Poles who died for their beliefs or dedicated their lives to charity.
Some 108 clergy and lay people were beatified for martyrdom suffered during Poland's violent occupation by Nazi German forces during World War Two. Most were shot, gassed or died from maltreatment in concentration camps.
The Pope also beatified Regina Protmann, daughter of a wealthy 16th-century family who founded an order of nuns to minister to plague victims in north-eastern Poland.
The Pope drew special attention to the fate of Archbishop Julian Nowowiejski, who at the age of 83 was beaten, stripped naked and humiliated by concentration camp guards for refusing to step on his bishop's cross. Vatican intervention saved Bishop Wladyslaw Goral from a death sentence but he died of malnourishment in Sachsenhausen just months before the camp was liberated.
The Catholic church was severely repressed by the Nazi Germans in Poland, who saw it as a focus of resistance to their rule. Many of the priests who were arrested were accused of continuing their religious work illegally. Others, including Father Jozef Pawlowski who was hung in Dachau in 1942, were jailed for trying to help Jews in Poland.
Reuters 1:17pm 15/6/99