Newly beatified Guatemalans exemplified courage, cardinal says

Tullio Maruzzo Luis Obdulio Caritas 2 Guatemala 281018 Drawings of Fr. Tullio Maruzzo and Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro. | Caritas Guatemala

Presiding at a Mass for the beatification of martyrs Fr. Tullio Maruzzo and Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro, a Vatican official prayed that "their martyrdom would inspire in everyone courageous Christian witness, a consistent life and boundless commitment to others."

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, celebrated the Mass Oct. 27 in the city of Morales in the Apostolic Vicariate of Izabel in Guatemala.

The cardinal said that "the entire Church in Guatemala is in celebration," and recalled that while "one was a priest and Franciscan religious of the Friars Minor and the other a faithful lay catechist," both "shared essential traits of spirituality: a simple and joyful lifestyle, befitting one who is poor in spirit ; ardent zeal for the Gospel,  which sustains those who work for peace."

He also praised "the attentive care for the poor and the valiant defense of the least which distinguishes men of good will. These are traits that constitute for us a message that is ever relevant."

Becciu emphasized that "Blessed Tullio Maruzzo is a gift of God to your land, he is the good shepherd that the Father sent to care for his flock, to the point of giving his life. He had left his hometown, Lapio di Arcugnano in Italy, to be a witness to the Gospel among you."

For his part, "Blessed Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro was the faithful companion that the Lord placed alongside Fr. Tullio at the time of their martyrdom. He is the mature fruit of your Church of Izabel, that you are reaping in the year you are solemnly celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the erection of the vicariate! He is the first native martyr of Guatemala!"

The cardinal noted that "the circumstances of the martyrdom of Fr. Tullio and Luis Obdlio are well known. Death was violently inflicted upon them by their assassins because of their hatred for Christ and the Gospel."

"Fr. Tullio was sensitive to the suffering of the poor campesinos. They were clearing plots in the jungle with great effort and turning it into their own farmland but were being dispossessed of their land time and time again by a few large landowners.

Consequently, Fr. Tullio chose to alleviate their growing poverty, console the discouraged and above all, enlighten consciences in order to clearly reaffirm their just rights according to the teaching of Jesus."

The pastoral activities of tthe priest, he said, "took on the value of a prophetic and courageous denunciation of the abuses by local powerful people, and so his social work was considered subversive, but he continued carrying out his apostolic work without fear for his life."

"The sorrowful epilogue took place the afternoon of July 1, 1981, when at the end of an intense day of apostolic work, while he was returning to the parish with the faithful Luis Obdulio, the automobile they were traveling in was stopped, and forced  to get out, they were shot dead, riddled with bullets and abandoned on the side of the road," he said.

"Remember that there is no change in structures without the conversion of hearts and that a parish is not a true parish if it it does not become a place of fraternal encounter among all its members."

"Never lose sight of the ideal for which Blessed Fr. Tullio and Blessed Luis Obdulio gave their lives: to show the face of a Church, as a sign of hope and rich in the love of God which embraces everyone, but above all the marginalized and the oppressed," he encouraged.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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