In his Friday feature column, John Allen points to questions being raised about a figure scheduled for beatification:
Declaring someone a saint, in Catholic theology, has never meant that he or she lived a perfect life, a point that applies with special force to martyrs. Even great sinners, the church believes, are redeemed by shedding their blood for the faith.
In principle, therefore, the discovery that a martyr has skeletons in the closet does nothing to weaken the value of his or her sacrifice. Yet in practice it can raise hard questions — if not about the sanctity of their death, then the wisdom of publicly applauding their lives. Such may be the case with one of the 498 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War set for beatification in Rome on Oct. 28: Augustinian Fr. Gabino Olaso Zabala, who was among 98 Augustinian priests and seminarians executed by Republican forces from 1936 to 1939.
In a nutshell, the charge is that during a much earlier period in his life, when he was a young missionary in the Philippines, Olaso was guilty of torture.