Pironio went on to serve as the bishop of the dioceses of Avellaneda and Mar del Plata. He was also the president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) from 1972 to 1975 and was known for his defense of human rights.
During the last phase of the government of Isabel Perón and the military dictatorship that followed, he received death threats and was transferred to Rome in 1975. Pope Paul VI named Pironio a cardinal in 1976.
Pironio was a member of the Roman Curia for two decades. He participated in the conclaves that elected John Paul I and John Paul II in 1978.
Pope John Paul II called on Pironio to serve as the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1984, a post he held until 1996.
In this role, he helped to launch the first World Youth Day in Rome, as well as the following World Youth Days in Buenos Aires, Santiago de Compostela, Poland, Denver, and the Philippines.
Pironio also served as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life.
He died from bone cancer in Rome on Feb. 5, 1998, and is buried at the shrine of Our Lady of Luján in Argentina. His cause for beatification was opened on June 23, 2006.
“I thank the Lord for the privilege of the Cross. I am very happy to have suffered so much,” Pironio wrote as he battled cancer. “I am only sorry for not having endured it better and for not always having relished my cross in silence. Now at least I would like my cross to begin to shine and bear fruit.
Last year, Pope Francis confirmed a decree declaring that Pironio lived a life of heroic virtue. With the new approval of the miracle, the Argentine cardinal can now be beatified, one step away from sainthood.
Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtue of the Italian priest Father Giuseppe Marrazzo (1917–1992) and two 20th-century women religious foundresses in the decree on Nov. 8.
Mother Maria Francesca Foresti founded a contemplative Franciscan congregation with a Eucharistic charism in 1920 under the guidance of Padre Pio.
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Eliswa Vakayil, later known as Mother Eliswa of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded the first Indigenous Carmelite congregation for women in Kerala, India, in 1866.
Before entering religious life, Eliswa was married and had a daughter named Anna. After her husband suddenly fell ill and died when her daughter was 18 months old, Eliswa dedicated herself to a life of silent prayer and service. Praying before the Blessed Sacrament more than a decade later, Eliswa felt called to consecrate her life to God. Her daughter Anna and her sister felt inspired to join her and the three family members were officially received together into the Carmelite Order four years later.
With the papal recognition of their heroic virtue, Father Marrazzo, Mother Foresti, and Mother Eliswa have now been declared venerable by the Catholic Church.