Pontiff Sends Greetings to Beatification of Spanish Bishop

Says 17th-Century Prelate Was «Defender of the Indians»

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ZAGREB, Croatia, JUNE 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI recalled the saintly qualities of Blessed Juan de Palafox y Mendoza on Sunday, noting that the 17th-century Spanish bishop was not only profoundly spiritual, but also a «tireless pastor and defender of the Indians.»

At the end of a public Mass in Zagreb, Croatia, where he was celebrating the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, the Pope sent a greeting in Spanish to those who were celebrating the beatification of Bishop Palafox in Burgo de Osma, Spain.

Juan Palafox was born in Fitero, Spain, in 1600, and in 1639 he was appointed bishop of Tlaxcala, Mexico (currently the Archdiocese of Puebla). He was characterized as a reformer who sought to protect the indigenous peoples from mistreatment.

For a period of a few months in 1642 he was the archbishop of Mexico City and the viceroy of New Spain. In 1653, he returned to Spain as the bishop of Osma (currently the Diocese of Osma-Soria), and he remained there until his death in 1659.

The Pontiff described Bishop Juan de Palafox as a «an outstanding bishop of seventeenth-century Mexico and Spain,» and «a man of vast culture and profound spirituality.»

He added that the prelate was «a great reformer, a tireless pastor and defender of the Indians.»

«May the Lord grant to his Church many holy pastors like Blessed Juan,» said the Pontiff.

Generous, humble

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, presided at the beatification ceremony, which was attended by some 3,000 faithful, 200 priests and 30 bishops.

Among those present included Archbishop Victor Sánchez Espinosa of Puebla, Mexico, and Archbishop Renzo Fratini, the apostolic nuncio in Spain.

At the beginning of the beatification ceremony, Bishop Gerardo Melgar Viciosa of Osma-Soria highlighted Bishop Palafox’s «generosity» with the poor, and the indelible mark he left on the diocese.

Cardinal Amato recalled in his homily that Bishop Palafox was a holy man whose pastoral zeal consisted essentially «in extirpating evil and planting what is holy and good.»

«In his life he experienced the glory of the loftiest offices and the humiliation of disgrace and isolation, which he accepted with heroic faith and an authentic Christian spirit,» the cardinal added.

The bishop’s process of beatification was opened in 1726, but was suspended in 1777.

Under Pope John Paul II, the bishop’s cause was resumed in 2003, and in 2009 the Vatican recognized the bishop’s heroic virtue. In 2010, the Vatican attributed the miraculous cure of Father Lucas Fernandez de Pinedo of tuberculosis to the intercession of Bishop Palafox.

On June 22, the relics of the newly blessed will arrive in Mexico and be venerated in Mexico City, San Miguel del Milagro, Tlaxcala and Puebla.

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