Homily at the beatification mass for the “Martyrs of La Rioja,” Bishop Enrique Angelelli, priests Carlos Murias and Gabriel Longueville and the layman Wenceslao Pedernera, by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Homily by HE Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu
“This is the day the Lord has made:
let us be glad and rejoice.”
Dear brothers and sisters,
The invitation that the Liturgy constantly renews to us in this Easter season finds in us today, gathered in the solemn rite of the beatification of four martyrs, a particularly prompt and joyful response. We rejoice and rejoice in the Lord for the gift of the new Blesseds. They are men who have bravely given their witness to Christ, deserving to be proposed by the Church to the admiration and imitation of all the faithful. Each one of them can repeat the words of the book of Revelation, proclaimed in the first reading: “The salvation, the power and the Kingdom of our God and the sovereignty of his Messiah have come” ( Ap12,10): the power of the risen Christ, who, throughout the centuries, through his Spirit, continues to live and act in believers, to drive them towards the full realization of the evangelical message.
Aware of this, the new Blesseds always counted on God’s help, even when they had to “suffer for justice” ( 1Pe 3,14), so they were always ready to defend themselves before anyone who asked them for a reason for their hope. that they had (cf. 1Pe 3,15). They offered themselves to God and to their neighbor in a heroic Christian testimony, which culminated in martyrdom. Today the Church is pleased to recognize that Enrique Ángel Angelelli, Bishop of La Rioja, Carlos de Dios Murias, Conventual Franciscan, Gabriel Longueville, fidei donum missionary priest, and the catechist Wenceslao Pedernera, father of a family, were insulted and persecuted because of Jesus and evangelical justice (cf Mt 5, 10-11), and have achieved a “great reward in heaven” (Mt 5,12 ).
“Happy you!” ( Mt 5,11; 1Pe3.13). How could we not hear addressed to our four Blesseds this suggestive manifestation of praise? They were faithful witnesses of the Gospel and remained firm in their love for Christ and his Church at the cost of suffering and the extreme sacrifice of their lives. They were murdered in 1976 [nineteen seventy-six], during the period of the military dictatorship, marked by an incandescent political and social climate, which also had clear traces of religious persecution. The dictatorial regime, in force for a few months in Argentina, considered any form of defense of social justice suspect. The four Blesseds developed a pastoral action open to new pastoral challenges; attentive to the promotion of the weakest strata, to the defense of their dignity and to the formation of consciences, within the framework of the Social Doctrine of the Church. All this, to try to offer solutions to multiple social problems.
It was a work of formation in the faith, of a strong religious and social commitment, anchored in the Gospel, in favor of the poorest and most exploited, and carried out in light of the novelty of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in the strong desire to implement the conciliar teachings. We could define them, in a certain sense, as “martyrs of the conciliar decrees”.
They were killed due to their diligent activity promoting Christian justice. In fact, at that time, the commitment in favor of social justice and the promotion of the dignity of the human person was hampered with all the forces of the civil authorities. Officially, the political power professed to be respectful, even defender, of the Christian religion, and tried to exploit it, pretending a servile attitude on the part of the clergy and passive on the part of the faithful, invited by force to externalize their faith only in liturgical manifestations and cult. But the new Blesseds made an effort to work in favor of a faith that also affected life; so that the Gospel would become leaven in the society of a new humanity founded on justice, solidarity and equality.
Blessed Enrique Ángel Angelelli was a brave and zealous pastor who, as soon as he arrived in La Rioja, began to work with great zeal to help a very poor population and victims of injustice. The key to his episcopal service lies in social action in favor of the most needy and exploited, as well as in valuing popular piety as an antidote against oppression. Icon of the good shepherd, he was in love with Christ and his neighbor, willing to give his life for his brothers. The priests Carlos de Dios Murias and Gabriel Longueville were able to identify and respond to the concrete challenges of evangelization while being close to the most disadvantaged segments of the population. The first, a Franciscan religious, distinguished himself by his spirit of prayer and an authentic detachment from material goods; the second, for being a man of the Eucharist. Wenceslao Pedernera, a catechist and active member of the rural Catholic movement, passionately dedicated himself to a generous social activity fueled by faith. Humble and charitable with everyone.
These four Blesseds are models of Christian life. The Bishop’s example teaches today’s pastors to exercise the ministry with ardent charity, being strong in faith in the face of difficulties. The two priests exhort today’s priests to be assiduous in prayer and to find, in the encounter with Jesus and in love for Him, the strength to never skimp on the priestly ministry: not enter into compromises with the faith, remain faithful at all costs to the mission, ready to embrace the cross. The father of a family teaches the laity to be distinguished by the transparency of faith, allowing themselves to be guided by it in the most important decisions of life.
They lived and died for love. The significance of the Martyrs today resides in the fact that their testimony annuls the claim to live selfishly or to build a model of a closed society without reference to moral and spiritual values. The Martyrs exhort us, both ourselves and future generations, to open our hearts to God and our brothers, to be heralds of peace, to work for justice, to be witnesses of solidarity, despite misunderstandings, tests and the tiredness The four Martyrs of this diocese, whom we contemplate today in their beatitude, remind us that “it is better to suffer by doing good, if this is the will of God, than by doing evil” ( 1 Pe 3,17), as we have been told. remembered the apostle Peter in the second reading.
We admire them for their bravery. We thank you for his fidelity in difficult circumstances, a fidelity that is more than an example: it is a legacy for this diocese and for all the Argentine people and a responsibility that must be lived in all times. May the example and prayer of these four Blesseds help us to be more and more men of faith, witnesses to the Gospel, community builders, promoters of a Church committed to witnessing to the Gospel in all spheres of society, building bridges and tearing down barriers. walls of indifference We entrust to your intercession this city and the entire nation: its hopes and its joys, its needs and difficulties. May all rejoice in the honor offered to these witnesses of the faith. God sustained them in their sufferings, offered them consolation and the crown of victory.
Blessed Enrique Ángel Angelelli and three fellow martyrs, pray for us!