A Mexican Gandhi to Be Beatified

Anacleto González Flores Was 1920s Martyr

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico, SEPT. 7, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Among the 13 Mexican martyrs to be beatified Nov. 20 is Anacleto González Flores, founder of the Catholic Association of Mexican Youth of Guadalajara.

This martyr of the Mexican religious persecution was also the founder of the Popular Union, better known as the «U,» a movement that included labor, women and farmers. Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez of Guadalajara announced the upcoming beatification.

He spent his time promoting catechesis and actively opposing the local and federal government’s measures to suppress religious freedom.

Married and the father of two, González Flores, popularly known as «Master Cleto,» was a well-known lay leader from 1915-1927, the year of his martyrdom at the hands of the federal army.

The army, under the command of the country’s president, Plutarco Elías Calles, persecuted Catholics.

Because of his option for pacifism and nonviolence, at a time when the country was enduring the Cristero War (1926-1929), González Flores was known as the «Mexican Gandhi.»

Humble origins

He was born in Tepatitlan, in the state of Jalisco, in July 1888. He came from humble origins. Son of a weaver, he did various jobs until he got his law degree in 1921. Before that, he had been a seminarian and postulant in the seminaries of San Juan de los Lagos Seminary and of Guadalajara.

In 1925 «Master Cleto» received the «Ecclesia et Pontifice» Cross from Pope Pius XI for his work of evangelization among the neediest and for his defense of the religiosity of the Mexican faithful.

González Flores opposed to the last moment the linking of the Popular Union with the National League in Defense of Religious Freedom, which had declared war on the Calles government in 1926.

However, overwhelmed by the maelstrom of the events, he had to accept his organization’s taking part in the armed struggle, which resulted in his arrest on March 31, 1927, and his martyrdom and death the following day, at age 38.

His executioners hanged him by his thumbs and then, at bayonet point, kept torturing him to disclose the whereabouts of the archbishop of Guadalajara and leaders of the Cristero Revolution. He was finally killed.

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