Friday, May 15, 2015
The Holy See gives a green light to the beatification of Enrique Angelelli
May 11, 2015
The Vatican gave the green light to the cause of beatification for martyrdom in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith) of Bishop Enrique Angelelli of La Rioja, killed by the dictatorship on August 4, 1976. The formal petition to open the cause had been made on January 7th by the current bishop of La Rioja, Marcelo Colombo. And on April 21st, the Vatican gave its approval, as was revealed yesterday by Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, and pointed out by Elisabetta Piqué in La Nación.
On July 4th last year, the former commander of the Third Army Corps, Luciano Benjamin Menendez, and the former commodore, Luis Fernando Estrella, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Angelelli, a deed that during the dictatorship was passed off as an accident.
The inquest was impelled in part by Pope Francis himself, who sent two secret documents that were a significant contribution to the cause. One document was a letter from Angelelli to the then apostolic nuncio Pio Laghi, in which he warned that he was being threatened, and another with the detailed account of the July 18, 1976 murder of two priests who were very close to the bishop, Gabriel Longueville and Carlos Murias.
Avvenire recalled that Angelelli was the first bishop killed during the dictatorships that emerged in Latin America in the 70s, like Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who will be beatified on May 23rd. The son of Italian immigrants, Angelelli had participated in the Second Vatican Council and was appointed by Pope Paul VI as bishop of La Rioja, one of the poorest provinces.
Bergoglio was in La Rioja on June 13, 1973, with other Jesuit priests, the same day that Angelelli was stoned in Anillaco. The next day, the bishop preached at a spiritual retreat for them and the current pope saw "a pastor who conversed with his people," as he said in 2006.
Two months later, he accompanied Father Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Jesuits who, on seeing the work of the bishop and the political and social scene in which it was unfolding, said: "This is what the Church has wanted since Vatican II." In August 2006, 30 years after the death of Angelelli, the then Cardinal Bergoglio presided over a Mass in La Rioja and reappraised the pastor's life and the circumstances of his death, thus blurring the car accident theory.
"He was a witness to the faith by shedding his blood. Somebody was happy that day. He thought it was his triumph, but it was the defeat of the adversaries," he said in a homily in which he highlighted [Angelellli's] "apostolic courage and endurance to cope with the difficulties of preaching the Gospel." Bergoglio also vindicated Carlos de Dios Murias and Gabriel Longueville, the priests who were killed on July 18, 1976 in Chamical, and layman Wenceslao Pedernera, terminated a week later. "They gave their blood for the Church," he said, at a time when the Church had not taken steps to demand clarification of what happened.
This homily was a break and coincided with the reopening of the trial, after the voiding of the full stop and due obedience laws.