By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis advanced eight sainthood causes Dec. 14, including the cause of St. Gianna Beretta Molla’s brother, Capuchin Father Alberto Beretta, who died three years before St. John Paul II canonized his sister.

Father Beretta, who died in 2001, was a physician like both St. Gianna and their only surviving sibling, Canossian Sister Virginia Beretta. He was a missionary in Brazil for 20 years until partial paralysis from a stroke led the Capuchins to bring him back to Italy.

Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing that Father Beretta lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way. A miracle attributed to his intercession would be needed for his beatification.

During a meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for Saints’ Causes, the pope signed decrees recognizing the miracles needed for two beatifications: Mexican Missionary of the Holy Spirit Father Moisés Lira Serafín, who lived 1893-1950 and founded the Missionaries of Charity of Mary Immaculate; and Spanish Discalced Carmelite Sister Ana de Lobera Torres, who was born in Spain in 1545, was a close collaborator of St. Teresa of Avila and died in Belgium in 1621.

Pope Francis also signed decrees recognizing the martyrdom of five men; a miracle is not needed for their beatifications.

One decree concerned the murders of two Xaverian Missionary priests, a Xaverian missionary brother and a diocesan priest in Congo in 1964. Simba rebels, who had taken many priests and nuns hostage, shot Xaverian Brother Vittorio Faccin and Xaverian Father Luigi Carrara in the village of Baraka before driving to the congregation’s mission in Fizi and killing Xaverian Father Giovanni Didonè and Father Albert Joubert, a diocesan priest.

The fifth martyrdom recognized in the pope’s decrees Dec. 14 was that of Ján Havlík, a Vincentian seminarian in Slovakia in the 1950s and ’60s when the communists were trying to suppress all religion. Havlík, who first entered the seminary in 1950, was arrested twice for being a seminarian and studying theology. Eventually sentenced to 10 years hard labor, he was sent to work in a uranium mine; later another year was added to his sentence for evangelizing among the prisoners. Broken from torture, the work and malnutrition, he died in 1965.

The pope also signed separate decrees recognizing that Ernesto Guglielmo Cofiño Ubico and Francesca Lancellotti led lives of heroic Christian virtue.

Cofiño, a Guatemalan, was a pediatrician, director of Caritas Guatemala, a husband and father of five children and a member of Opus Dei. He lived 1899-1991.

Lancellotti, who lived 1917-2008, was a wife and mother of three children who was known for her generosity to the poor and her spiritual counsel to anyone who sought her advice when she lived near Potenza, Italy, and later in Rome.