On May 15, 1948, in the 'Field of freedom' in Blaj, Transylvania, the Communist regime began heinous religious persecution.
On that day, the authorities asked Greek Catholics to abandon their faith and join the Orthodox Church, to separate them from Rome. The majority refused. Thus began one of the darkest eras in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Romania. The government confiscated their property, imprisoned their bishops and arrested many priests.
More than 70 years later, in the same place, Pope Francis celebrated the beatification of seven bishops martyred in those days, between 1950 and 1970. They were imprisoned and subjected to torture and humiliation.
This official formula, pronounced by the pope, made these seven bishops blessed in the eyes of the Church by their martyrdom.
In his homily, the pope recalled the painful times in which ideology was put before people's right to life.
'The new blesseds suffered and gave their lives to oppose an ideological system that oppressed the fundamental rights of the human person. In that tragic period, the life of the Catholic community was put to a harsh test by a dictatorial and atheistic regime.'
The pope wanted to highlight, above all, the example of these martyrs. They did not die hating their persecutors, but rather showing great mercy toward them.
'The words spoken by Bishop Iuliu Hossu during his imprisonment are eloquent: 'God sent us into this darkness of suffering in order to offer forgiveness and to pray for the conversion of all.' These words are the symbol and synthesis of the attitude these blesseds had at the time of testing. They sustained their people in confessing the faith without compromise or retaliation.”
Pope Francis also warned of the danger of new ideologies of our days, that seek to colonize culture and society.
'Forms of ideological colonization that devalue the person, life, marriage and the family. Above all, with alienating proposals as atheistic as those of the past, that harm our young people and children, leaving them without roots from which they can grow. Everything then becomes irrelevant, unless it serves our immediate interests. People are led to take advantage of others and treat them as mere objects.'
Therefore, the pope encouraged the fight against these new ideologies, so they don't invade society. He invited fraternity and dialogue before any kind of division.
Before leaving, Pope Francis led the recitation of Regina Coeli and imparted a blessing on more than 70,000 pilgrims who participated in this beatification ceremony.