Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The untold story of the Mexican martyrs

1917 was a very difficult year in the world. Throughout Europe and Russia there was economic unrest and a series of anti-clerical laws swept the land. Marxism was on the rise and even Portugal experienced the unrest. In the midst of this turmoil Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917 beginning on May 13. Our Lady of Fatima is as relevant today as she was back then. She gave us the peace plan for the world which included the importance of prayer, sacrifice, and consecration to the immaculate heart of Mary. The story I will share now is borrowed from this month's Columbia magazine by the Knights of Columbus. Maria de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda is the author and the title of the article is "The Untold story of the Knights during the Cristiada." As you read the story consider the current political situation in the United States. The President through the HHS mandate is trumping religious liberty and asking Catholic institutions to violate their consciences on contraception/abortificients/ and sterilizations. Here is her story: "On an ordinary January day in 1927, as Yocundo Duran walked home in Chihuaua, Mexico, he crossed paths with Federal Gen. Miguel Valle, who was walking out of a local tavern. The general recognized Duran and had one of his soldiers detain him and ask 'Are you a Knight of Columbus?' Duran confirmed that he was a Knight and asked whether there was any evil in it. Considering this an indictment, Valle pronounced Duran a subversive Catholic and ordered him shot on the spot. Duran's body was later delivered to his family in a bricklayer's cart. Scenes like this were not uncommon in 1920's Mexico, as the Mexican government led one of the most violent anti-Catholic persecutions in the 20th century. During this period the Knights of Columbus became a symbol of all things Catholic: a hopeful sign to Mexican Catholics and a seditious organization in the eyes of government leaders. Just five years after the first Knights of Columbus council was established in 1905, the country was catapaulted into a long period of armed conflict, now called the Mexican revolution. But what started as a fight against the established autocratic order evolved into a multi-sided Civil war with each competing faction claiming legitimacy. Although Catholicism had been part of Mexico's history for nearly 400 years, the Catholic Church was perceived as hostile toward the revolution, resulting in an unstable and anti-religious social and political environment. A new constitution, which included several anti-clerical articles, was drafted in 1917, setting the stage for an era of persecution that lasted more than two decades. In April 1917, Mexican bishops living in San Antonio prepared a letter of protest, affirming that the new constitution 'destroys the most sacred rights of the Catholic Church, of Mexican Society, and of Christian individuals.' Despite these challenges, the Order in Mexico not only survived this period; it thrived. Membership grew from 400 Knights in 1918 to almost 6,ooo in 51 Councils just six years later. Between 1926 and 1929, an open rebellion took place against the government's new persecutory laws, which were formulated and strictly enforced under Mexican President Plutarco Elia Calles. Resistance to the 'Calles law' started peacefully, in the form of signed petitions, economic boycotts and demonstrations. But in August 1926, sporadic uprisings sparked the beginning of the Cristero War, or Cristiada. The rebels took their name from the Battle cry Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!) To the Mexican government, this pronouncement-often the last words of Cristeros before their deaths-was more than a declaration of faith; it was an act of treason. About 70 Mexican Knights were among the Cristeros who died while standing up for their faith. During this time the government seized Catholic schools and seminaries, expropriated Church property, and outlawed religious education. It closed Catholic hospitals, orphanages and homes for the elderly. It also banned public monastic orders, expelleled foreign born clergy and prohibited public worship. Priests and nuns were barred from wearing religious garments, from voting, and from criticizing the government or commenting on public affairs either in writing or in speech. if charged with a violation of the law, they were, like Duran, often denied a trial. Mexico's bishops were expelled and many of the clergy were exiled for years; those who remained or returned in secret were forced to work and minister 'underground.' Many seminarians were also exiled to Spain or the United States." To be cont. It is said that those who are ignorant of history are doome to repeat it. We are blessed to have religious liberty here in the United States. However, any and all attempts to infringe upon these sacred rights should be fought forcefully and vigorously. The HHS mandate of the ACA is such an attempt that must be forcefully fought. There is simply too much at stake.

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