Pope declares French priest-victims of Paris Commune martyrs

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ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has declared five Catholic priests who were killed during the Paris Commune revolutionary government that took control of Paris in 1871 were martyrs who were killed out of “hatred for the faith.”

The martyrdom declaration means that the five priests can be beatified, the first big step toward possible canonization, without the Vatican having to confirm a miracle attributed to their intercession.

In announcing Francis’ decree Thursday, the Vatican identified only two of the priests: Enrico Planchart and Ladislao Radigue. The other three priests were from two other religious orders. They were all killed May 26, 1871, in Paris.

The Paris Commune was hostile to the Catholic Church, which it accused of “complicity in the crimes of the monarchy.” It confiscated church funds, seized church property, and arrested hundreds of priests, nuns and monks.

Despite only governing for two months the Commune was highly influential — notably separating church and state, a policy that exists today in another form. During that time some 26 churches were closed and many Catholic schools forced to become secular.

When the national French army seized back control, the Communards, as they were known, shot many priests and the Archbishop of Paris in retaliation during what became known as The Bloody Week.

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