In a few months, Latin America will have several more martyrs beatified by the church. Four of these are from Argentina, including a layman, two priests, and a bishop.
On August 4, 1976, Monseñor Enrique Angelelli, bishop of La Rioja, was killed in what was made to look like a car crash. Some documents on the deaths of the three others who will be beatified with him, Wenceslao Pedernera, a campesino who was director of the Diocesan Rural Movement, and Fathers Carlos de Dios Murias and Gabriel Longueville. The documents were not found in the car wreck.
Monseñor Angelelli was one of a few bishops in Argentina in those ways who had taken the side of the poor and the oppressed. His witness and defense of campesinos still stir up anger by right-wing forces in Argentina and throughout the world.
But he was, above all, a bishop of the people with his motto – one ear in the people and the other in the Gospel.
Together with Monseñor Oscar Romero of El Salvador who will be canonized this October, Monseñor Angelelli was a voice for those with no voice, willing to give himself completely for God and the people.
As he wrote, “The thought crosses my mind that the Lord needs a bishop in jail or killed in order to make us wake up to our episcopal collegiality and live it more deeply.”
Where are the followers of the crucified and risen Jesus today? All too often we are all to comfortable.
I wrote a longer reflection two years ago in this blog post.