VATICAN - The blood of martyrs “scarlet thread” linking Latin America and the Middle East

Friday, 28 February 2014

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – “A constant in Christian history is persecution and the cross which in this world and in these times touches so many of the sons and daughters of the Church. It is the giving of one’s life amidst violence, amidst contempt for values, for the dignity of the human person, amidst attacks against the members, the holy symbols and holy places of our faith, which have, as consequences, not only the abduction, but also the murder and death of bishops, priests, men and women religious”. These words were part of a homily by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, during the Mass he presided this morning on occasion of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The text was sent to Fides News Agency.
“This scarlet thread of the blood of martyrs – the Cardinal continued – has been registered in twenty centuries of history and Catholic Eastern Churches, like the Orthodox communities and other Christian communities, have been and still are major figures in this gospel connotation of the disciple’s identity with his Master”.
After recalling the 52 Catholics martyred inside the Syrian-Catholic cathedral in Bagdad, Cardinal Sandri wondered if there could be a uniting thread between this reality and that of Latin America . “The blood of Christ which today we see poured out in the persons of our brothers and sisters, victims of persecution, of terrorism in general, of state terrorism, in particular, of the irrational violence of drug trafficking or victims because of the preferential option for the poor, implicit in Christological faith, is the uniting thread between our two realities” the Cardinal affirmed.
Among the great number of bishops, priests, men and women religious on the Latin American continent who lost their lives as disciples of Christ, the Cardinal mentioned three in particular: Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, assassinated 24 May 1993; the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero, assassinated 24 March 1980 (“the canonisation process for archbishop Romero has begun – said the Cardinal – and we hope soon to have him as a model for the whole Church”); Bishop Enrique Angelelli of La Rioja, in Argentina, killed 4 August 1976 in a dubious road accident.
“In the light of the Word of God and in the light of so many witnesses who have gone before us –Cardinal Sandri concluded -, we can weave together with the scarlet thread of the blood of our martyrs, the common history of our America with the Eastern Churches: it is Christ crucified who unites with astonishing parallelism these two parts of the People of God. The part in Latin America, whom Aparecida calls to be disciples and missionaries, and the part in the Christian east called, following the Special Synod for the Middle East, to communion and witness”. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 28/2/2014)