ROME (Nov. 25)
Pope John Paul II has beatified two Austrian priests who were killed during World War II because of their opposition to the Nazis.
In Sunday’s ceremony at the Vatican, the pope said Otto Neururer and Jakob Gapp had been martyred because they refused “to worship the [Nazi] beast and its image.”
“Between Christianity and the pagan ideology of National Socialism there could be no compromise,” he said.
Beatification is a step toward sainthood.
Neururer, a priest in the Tyrolean town of Goetzens, located near Innsbruck, was tortured to death at Buchenwald on May 30, 1940.
He had been sent to Dachau and Buchenwald after advising a young woman not to marry a divorced man who was also a friend of the local Nazi chief.
Gapp, an outspoken anti-Nazi priest who was also from the Tyrol, opposed the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938 and escaped from Austria in 1939.
Eventually arrested by the Gestapo in France, he was beheaded in August 1943 in Berlin.
This was the second time this year that the pope paid this honor to clergy who had opposed the Third Reich.
During a June trip to Germany, the pope beatified two German priests killed because of their anti-Nazi activities.