Bishop Jean-Louis Balsa, bishop of Viviers (France) and about thirty young people from the diocese were received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, October 29, 2018.
This private audience is part of the pilgrimage of young parties this summer in Argentina in the footsteps of Gabriel Longueville, a priest ordained in Viviers and martyred in Argentina who will be soon beatified.
The young people showed Pope Francis a Spanish version of the video of their pilgrimage. A long version and a short version in French are available online.
Pope Francis signed on Friday, June 8 the decree recognizing the martyrdom “in hate of the faith” of Bishop Enrique Angelelli, bishop of La Rioja (Argentina), the French priest Gabriel Longueville, of the diocese of Viviers, the Argentinian Franciscan Carlos of Dios Murias and the lay Wenceslao Pedernera.
Gabriel Longueville and Carlos Murias were abducted in El Chamical (Argentina), their parish, on July 18, 1976, by men in a car without license plates.
A few days later, they will be found riddled with bullets, with signs of torture and blindfolded, on a vacant lot in the city. Their death is attributed to a soldier who is already serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.
On August 4, the bishop of La Rioja, Bishop Angelelli, returning from a mass he had just celebrated in honor of the two murdered priests, died in a “car accident”, and the bag in which he carried the documents proving their murder disappeared.
A few days earlier, the lay Wenceslao Pedernera, a rural community leader, was killed at home by twenty bullets, in front of his wife and three daughters.
The bishops’ episcopate has long considered the official version of the bishop’s car accident to be accurate, and it will be necessary to wait until 2014 for the case to be examined and its death recognized as a murder, after the sending by Pope Francis documents highlighting pressures. “We are constantly embarrassed to fulfill the mission of the Church. Personally, priests and religious, we are humiliated, summoned and looted by the police, on the orders of the army, “wrote Angelelli – of the group of bishops who oppose the most openly to the military dictatorship – in a letter sent some days before his death to the nuncio in Argentina, Cardinal Pio Laghi. Pope Francis sent at the same time – to Monsignor Marcelo Colombo – a “chronicle of the facts related to the assassination of fathers Gabriel Longueville and Carlos Murias”, written by Bishop Angelelli.
Enrique Angelelli, Gabriel Longueville, Carlos de Dios Murias, Wenceslao Pedernera, are just four names among the 30,000 who “disappeared” during the Argentine dictatorship: a bishop, a diocesan priest, a religious, a layman. The 30,000 people include about twenty French, including the nuns Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon.
Gabriel Longueville, born in 1931 in Étables, was sent to Argentina by his diocese of Viviers, in the framework of the CEFAL (French Latin America Episcopal Committee). Arrived in 1969, he is appointed by the diocese of La Rioja in a poor rural sector, the parish El Salvador de Chamical, where he devotes himself especially to the most disadvantaged.
The date of the beatification is not yet known, but the diocese of La Rioja could propose that it take place in November.
The diocese of Viviers (ecclesiastical province of Lyon) is made up of twenty-four parishes since October 1, 2003, gathered in six pastoral sectors, divided into three pastoral zones. Out of more than 316,000 inhabitants, the diocese, which corresponds to the department of Ardèche, has more than 87% of Catholics. In 2009 there were 124 priests.