Mauricio Kuri has come to believe that, like the teenage Mexican martyr he plays in the upcoming film “For Greater Glory,” 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 “For Greater Glory” with fellow stars Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Nestor Carbonel, and Eduardo Verastagui.
Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio is “a really strong character because you can see the transformation in him,” Kuri told CNA in an April 25 interview in Los Angeles.
“At 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 he’s a martyr.”
“For Greater Glory” charts the history of Mexico’s Cristero War, which was sparked by anti-clerical legislation being passed by the Mexican President Elías 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 “Cristo Rey” (Christ the King).
“I think this movie, it threw me closer to my religion because it is a really strong character,” he said.
Kuri explained that Bl. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio is “a Cristero martyr, and he was beatified by the Pope.”
Most importantly for the young actor, “this character existed. He was a real person.”
Kuri keeps a medal of Bl. Jose around his neck. Holding the medal up and pointing at the image on it, he explains, “This is his real photo. It's the real Jose Sanchez del Rio, and he was fourteen years old; I'm fourteen.”
“I don't believe in coincidences,” Kuri said.
The actor said he did spend a great deal of time thinking about his “strong character” and wondered if he could show the same courage as Bl. Jose.
“There is a phrase of the movie that I love that says ... ‘Who are you if you don't stand up for what you believe?’”
The young actor began to wonder if he had lived in Mexico during the 1920s and during the Cristero War, “Would I do what Jose did?”
“I tested myself, and I said 'I think I wouldn't,’” 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 priest—his “spiritual guide.”
Looking back on the whole experience, Kuri sees Bl. Jose’s true strength as being rooted in his courage to stand up for what he believes in.
“I think I would do that,”Kuri said, “because to defend for what you believe is the most cool thing” you could ever do.
Kuri was particularly impressed the “strong” and “beautiful” transformation that becomes so visible at Bl. Jose’s moment of martyrdom. Bl. Jose was “a little naughty guy,” he explained, but “at the end you can see him as a saint.”
Kuri encourages Catholics everywhere to stand up for religious freedom like the faithful Catholics of Mexico did during the Cristero War.
“What 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 … and you defend it, then you are a terrific person.”
Just like Bl. Jose, Kuri said that “We can be Cristeros right now; we can defend our faith; we can defend not only our faith, but our freedom.”