Holiness Is Possible, Says Pope at Beatification Ceremony

Five Men and Women Are Named Blessed

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Holiness is exacting but possible for all Christians, John Paul II said today when proclaiming five new blessed.



Examples of holiness to the Church, the newly beatified are Hungarian Laszlo Batthyany-Strattmann, "doctor of the poor"; two Spanish women religious who struggled for the promotion of woman -- María Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña and Juana María Condesa Lluch; Swiss religious María Caritas Brader, apostle of Latin American Indians; and French priest, Father Pierre Bonhomme, founder of a religious congregation for women.

"The holiness of the new blesseds stimulates us also to seek evangelical perfection, putting into practice all of Jesus' words," the Holy Father said during the Eucharistic celebration.

"It is certainly a demanding ascetic journey, but possible for all," he said to tens of thousands of pilgrims attending the ceremony, among whom Spaniards, Latin Americans -- especially Colombians -- and Hungarians were the most numerous.

Among those listening to the Pope were Hungarian president, Ferenc Madl, and Otto von Habsburg, 90, son of the last Austro-Hungarian emperor.

In his homily, John Paul II recalled the example of life left by these men and women, whom he proposed as models to the pilgrims gathered for the celebration, many of whom were waving flags of peace.

The Holy Father began by recalling the life of Father Pierre Bonhomme (1803-1861), French priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary.

"The meditation of Scripture was the incomparable source of his pastoral activity, in particular his care for the poor, the sick, deaf-mutes, and people with disabilities for whom he founded the religious congregation," the Pope said.

John Paul II then mentioned the work of Spaniard María Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña (1848-1918), foundress of a religious congregation named after her, dedicated to evangelization and to social and cultural work, thanks to which "in Spain and Latin America a spirituality continues that advances the construction of a more just world, proclaiming the saving message of Jesus Christ."

Juana María Condesa Lluch (1862-1916), foundress of the Congregation of Handmaids of Mary Immaculate, was presented by the Pope as an example of the defense of the dignity of woman and of her life of faith, in face of the risks entailed in the inclusion of women into the working world in the 19th century.

The Holy Father then recalled the life of Swiss religious María Caritas Brader (1860-1943), foundress of the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate, whose missionary work in Latin America consisted mostly of helping the Indians and the neediest. She died in Colombia.

Lastly, the Pope proposed to the faithful the example of a doctor and father of thirteen children, Hungarian Laszlo Batthyany Strattmann (1862-1916), who never charged the poor for his surgical operations.

This blessed, the Holy Father said, "never put earthly riches before the authentic good that is in heaven. May his example of family life and of generous Christian solidarity be an encouragement to all to follow the Gospel faithfully."

To date, John Paul II has proclaimed 1,308 blessed. In almost 25 years of pontificate, he has proclaimed 464 saints.