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Pope Francis recalls Paraguayan martyrs on 25th anniversary of canonization

November 18, 2013

Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, as his special envoy to the Mass that closed a national Paraguayan pilgrimage to venerate the relics of St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz and his companions.

St. Roque Gonzalez de Santa Cruz, a Jesuit, is Paraguay’s first canonized saint; together with two Spanish Jesuit missionaries, he was martyred in 1628. The closing Mass of the pilgrimage, which took place on November 15, marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the martyrs’ canonization by Blessed John Paul II.

In his Latin-language letter for the occasion, Pope Francis noted that the priests, “constantly calling on the Virgin Mary, assiduously preached eternal salvation in Christ to the indigenous peoples.” Faced with a “large field of human misery,” the Pope added, “We place a living hope in their strong example and powerful intercession before God.”

Cardinal Hummes, in his homily for the occasion, said that the Church must not raise barriers that “render it inaccessible to those who are suffering, the poor, the abandoned,” L’Osservatore Romano reported. Following the martyrs’ example, he said, “the Church and all Christians, especially pastors, must be merciful to those who are suffering and the poor.”


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