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Thousands Attend Beatification Of Polish Priest Slain By Communists


Roman Catholic priest and opposition activist Jerzy Popieluszko was 37 years old when he was murdered by communist Poland's secret police in October 1984.

Thousands of people attended ceremonies today in the Polish capital, Warsaw, for the beatification of Jerzy Popieluszko, a Roman Catholic priest and opposition activist who was tortured and killed 25 years ago by communist-led Poland's secret police.

The head of the Vatican's saint-making office, Archbishop Angelo Amato, presided over the beatification Mass in Pilsudski Square, which was celebrated by 120 bishops and 1,300 priests.

Beatification is the first step toward possible sainthood. Last December, Pope Benedict declared Popieluszko a martyr, thus opening the road to his beatification.

Popieluszko, who was a vocal supporter of Lech Walesa's anti-communist Solidarity trade union movement, drew thousands of people to his sermons during the crackdown by communist authorities against the opposition in the early 1980s.

Calling for peaceful resistance against the communist regime, Popieluszko urged Poles to "overcome evil with good.” His sermons also included references to freedom and to the teachings of the then-pope, Polish-born John Paul II.

Popieluszko was 37 years old when he was murdered by secret police agents in October 1984.

compiled from agency reports