Pope OKs be­at­i­fi­ca­tion for US brother slain in Gu­atemala war

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - News -

VAT­I­CAN CITY – Pope Fran­cis has de­creed that an Amer­i­can re­li­gious brother, James Miller, was killed out of ha­tred for the Catholic faith dur­ing Gu­atemala’s civil war and can be be­at­i­fied.

The Vat­i­can said Thurs­day that Fran­cis ap­proved a de­cree rec­og­niz­ing that Miller, from Stevens Point, Wis­con­sin, died as a mar­tyr on Feb. 13, 1982, in Hue­hue­te­nango, Gu­atemala. Miller, 37, had been work­ing with indige­nous youths as a mem­ber of the De La Salle Chris­tian Broth­ers when he was killed by three masked men.

No one was ever ar­rested in the slay­ing. Miller’s fel­low broth­ers re­ported re­ceiv­ing warn­ings that Gu­atemala’s armed forces in­tel­li­gence unit, the G-2 death squad, was look­ing for them.

A U.N. truth com­mis­sion de­ter­mined that some 245,000 peo­ple were killed or dis­ap­peared dur­ing Gu­atemala’s 1960-1996 civil war, which pit­ted right-wing, U.S.-backed gov­ern­ments against left­ist guer­ril­las and indige­nous peo­ples. The vast ma­jor­ity of the killings were at­trib­uted to the army or to pro-gov­ern­ment para­mil­i­tary groups.

Be­ing de­clared a mar­tyr ex­empts Miller from the usual be­at­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ment of hav­ing a mir­a­cle at­trib­uted to his in­ter­ces­sion con­firmed. How­ever, such a mir­a­cle would be re­quired for him to be de­clared a saint. A date for his be­at­i­fi­ca­tion has not been set.

Miller is the sec­ond Amer­i­can slain in Gu­atemala to move a step closer to pos­si­ble saint­hood in re­cent years. The Rev. Stan­ley Rother, who was gunned down dur­ing the Gu­atemalan con­flict in 1981, was be­at­i­fied as a mar­tyr in his na­tive Ok­la­homa last year.

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