During his traditional greeting and remarks before praying the Sunday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s square, the Holy Father discussed Manuel “Lolo” Lozano Garrido and Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, two men who were beatified in their home dioceses this week.
As Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the priest being a gift from the heart of Christ, he noted the contributions of priests throughout history to defending the civil and religious freedoms of mankind. He highlighted Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Polish priest and martyr who was beatified in Poland before an audience of 140,000 people last Sunday, June 6.
Fr. Jerzy “exercised his generous and valiant ministry along with those who fought for liberty, for the defense of life and its dignity,” explained the Pope.
“His work of service to good and to the truth was a sign of contradiction to the regime that was governing Poland at the time. The love from the Sacred Heart of Christ impelled him to give his life, and his testimony has been the seed of a new spring in the Church and in society.”
Fr. Jerzy was the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka, a parish located in a working class suburb of Warsaw. During the 1980s, he became the chaplain of Lech Walesa’s Solidarity movement, the first trade union to be recognized by the Soviet regime. He also began saying a monthly “Mass for the Homeland” and thousands gathered to hear his homilies.
In 1984, he was abducted by the Communist police, beaten, bound, and thrown into the river in a sack. When his body was found nearly two weeks later, over half a million people attended his funeral to show their appreciation for the priest who always spoke of the value and dignity of human life. His murder sparked an outrage that helped lead to the fall of the communist regime.
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict took a moment to remember Manuel “Lolo” Lozano Garrido, a Spanish journalist who spent 28 years in a wheelchair. Lolo was beatified on June 12 in Linares, Spain.
Lolo was a “faithful layman who knew how to radiate the love of God through his example and his writings, even through the pain which kept him wheelchair-bound for 28 years,” noted the Pope. “At the end of his life, he also lost his vision, but he continued to gain hearts for Christ with his serene joy and his unbreakable faith.”
Lolo was journalist during the Spanish Civil War and was imprisoned at the age of 17. When he was released at 22, he suffered paralysis but accepted the trial with docility. From his wheelchair, he wrote numerous books, journals, and articles on spirituality as well as an autobiographical novel. He also founded a prayer group for infirm journalists. He lost his sight nine years before his death in 1971.
Pope Benedict also said that journalists can find in him “an eloquent testimony of the good that can be wrought with the pen in the service of the truth and of noble causes, reflecting the greatness of the soul.”