Mauricio Kuri has come to believe that, like the teenage Mexican martyr he plays in the upcoming film âFor Greater Glory,â people must stand up for religious freedom.
Kuri is not your typical fourteen-year-old boy. Born and raised Catholic in Mexico City, he was cast in the upcoming film âFor Greater Gloryâ with fellow stars Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Nestor Carbonel, and Eduardo Verastagui.
Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio is âa really strong character because you can see the transformation in him,â Kuri told CNA in an April 25 interview in Los Angeles.
âAt the beginning he's just a young boy, naughty. He even makes a prank to the Father of the church, but you can see his transformation in his beliefs, and at the end heâs a martyr.â
âFor Greater Gloryâ charts the history of Mexicoâs Cristero War, which was sparked by anti-clerical legislation being passed by the Mexican President ElÃas Calles in 1926. Those laws banned religious orders, deprived the Church of property rights and denied priests their civil liberties, including the right to a trial by jury and the right to vote.
The persecution became so fierce that some Catholics began to forcibly resist, fighting under the slogan and banner of âCristo Reyâ (Christ the King).
âI think this movie, it threw me closer to my religion because it is a really strong character,â he said.
Kuri explained that Bl. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio is âa Cristero martyr, and he was beatified by the Pope.â
Most importantly for the young actor, âthis character existed. He was a real person.â
Kuri keeps a medal of Bl. Jose around his neck. Holding the medal up and pointing at the image on it, he explains, âThis is his real photo. It's the real Jose Sanchez del Rio, and he was fourteen years old; I'm fourteen.â
âI don't believe in coincidences,â Kuri said.
The actor said he did spend a great deal of time thinking about his âstrong characterâ and wondered if he could show the same courage as Bl. Jose.
âThere is a phrase of the movie that I love that says ... âWho are you if you don't stand up for what you believe?ââ
The young actor began to wonder if he had lived in Mexico during the 1920s and during the Cristero War, âWould I do what Jose did?â
âI tested myself, and I said 'I think I wouldn't,ââ Kuri admits.
So he started to read about the life of Bl. Jose as part of his research for the role. He also sought guidance from a priestâhis âspiritual guide.â
Looking back on the whole experience, Kuri sees Bl. Joseâs true strength as being rooted in his courage to stand up for what he believes in.
âI think I would do that,âKuri said, âbecause to defend for what you believe is the most cool thingâ you could ever do.
Kuri was particularly impressed the âstrongâ and âbeautifulâ transformation that becomes so visible at Bl. Joseâs moment of martyrdom. Bl. Jose was âa little naughty guy,â he explained, but âat the end you can see him as a saint.â
Kuri encourages Catholics everywhere to stand up for religious freedom like the faithful Catholics of Mexico did during the Cristero War.
âWhat is happening right now with the Church and the attack to the religious freedom is something that will happen to the end of the times. And I think if you stand up and you say 'I am Catholic and I am not ashamed of being Catholic and I'm proud of being Catholic â¦ and you defend it, then you are a terrific person.â
Just like Bl. Jose, Kuri said that âWe can be Cristeros right now; we can defend our faith; we can defend not only our faith, but our freedom.â