The Beatification of nine Spanish seminarians, martyrs of the 20th century, is a testimony for the Church today, disfigured by sexual abuses and the abuse of power by members of the clergy, said Cardinal Angelo Becciu, on celebrating the martyrdom of Angelo Cuartas Cristobal and eight companions, on March 9, 2019 at Oviedo, Spain. “We need honest and irreproachable priests,” he stressed.
The nine seminarians – Angelo, Mariano, Jesus, Cesar Gonzalo, Jose Maria, Juan Jose, Manuel, Sixto, and Luis, killed out of hatred for the faith between 1934 and 1937 –, heard the voice of the Divine Master who said to them: “Follow Me!,” continued in his homily the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. However, “that ‘Follow Me!’ at a certain point asked for a greater and more heroic receptiveness and, once again, they said ‘yes’.”
In an atmosphere of live Catholic hostility, whose objective was the elimination of the Church and, in particular, of the clergy, they were “determined to follow their vocation . . . conscious of the traps and dangers with which they would confront.” While it was enough for their persecutors “to identify them as seminarians to give free rein to their homicidal violence,” these young men “were able to persevere with a particular strength up to the last moment of their life, without denying their identity of clerics in formation,” explained the Cardinal.
“Their testimony is of great actuality: they didn’t flee in face of difficulties, but they chose fidelity to Christ, he continued. The message of these martyred seminarians “speaks to the Church and to Europe”: “They remind us that love for Christ prevails over all other choices and that coherence of life can lead to death . . . They remind us that one can’t accept compromises with one’s conscience and that no other human authority can rival the primacy of God.”
By their holiness of life, “the new Blesseds speak above all to the Church of today” because “they made the priesthood radiant,” affirmed the Prefect of the Dicastery, recalling the present scandals of sexual abuse and of abuse of power. “We are all troubled by the scandals that seem to be without end and that disfigure the face of the Bride of Christ. We need seminarians, priests, consecrated persons generous Pastors, such as these martyrs of Oviedo. We need honest and irreproachable priests that lead souls to God and don’t cause sufferings to the Church or trouble the People of God.”
“By their message and their martyrdom, the new Blesseds speak to all of us and remind us that to die for the faith is a gift granted only to certain persons; however, to live the faith is a call addressed to all,” concluded Cardinal Becciu.