A young Franciscan monk, who was kidnapped and killed by the military during Argentina’s dirty war of the late 1970s, could be the first person beatified under the reign of Pope Francis, it emerged today.
The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed that the order to begin the long process of sainthood for the murdered monk, was signed by Pope Francis – or Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as he was then – in 2011.
The potential saint-in-the-making, Carlos de Dios Murias, a left-leaning priest, was taken away by the military in the Argentine province of La Rioja in 1976. His body was later found with the eyes gouged out and the hands cut off. The body of another murdered Franciscan priest, a Frenchman named Gabriel Longueville, was found alongside Murias.
The news of plans to beatify Muria comes as the pontiff-elect faces accusations that he did too little to oppose the brutality or even that he colluded with the regime in his homeland from 1976 to 1983.
The most damaging accusations suggest Pope Francis denied protection for two other Jesuit priests who were kidnapped and tortured when they repeatedly entered a slum against the orders of the regime.
That claim appeared in an unauthorised biography by local newspaper journalist Horacio Verbitsky.
The Vatican has vehemently denied that Pope Francis in any way colluded with the human rights abuses in Argentina, and has labeled them “defamatory and without foundation”.