11.23.2020

"We ought to speak, shout out against injustices, with confidence and without fear" - Blessed Miquel Pro

 


Jose Ramon Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez entered the seminary in 1911 to study to become a Jesuit priest. The seminary closed when the government began to persecute Catholics. Miguel had to flee his country. He was finally ordained in Belgium in 1925 when he was 34 years old.

Miguel returned to Mexico even though it was dangerous because the government had forbidden Catholics to practice their faith. The Cristero War (1926-1929) saw faithful Catholics rebelling against the oppression of the government, and the military and government officials responded with great brutality.

Miguel had to minister to his beloved Mexican people in secret. It is said that he wore disguises to protect himself and others. He dressed as a beggar and visited homes to say Mass or baptize babies. He wore a police officer’s uniform when he visited the jail to bring the Sacraments to prisoners. He was willing to do anything to help people know that the Church loved and cared for them in Jesus’ name.

Miguel was arrested and charged with attempting to kill Mexico’s president. The charges were completely untrue, but the police wanted an excuse to be rid of this “problem” priest. Without a trial, Miguel was sentenced to death before a firing squad.

Miguel’s last words before stretching out his arms to die were “Viva Cristo Rey!” which means “Long live Christ the King!” He had blessed the soldiers and the executioners before he died.


He was noted for his charity and ability to speak about spiritual subjects without boring his audience. Pulido remarked that there were two Pros: the playful Pro and the prayerful Pro. He was known for the long periods he spent in the chapel.[6]

Long-time President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz was ousted in 1911 after staging a rigged reelection, and a struggle for power – the Mexican Revolution – began.

Pro studied in Mexico until 1914 when a massive wave of governmental anti-Catholicism forced the novitiate to dissolve and the Jesuits to flee to Los Gatos, California, in the United States. He then went to study in Granada, Spain (1915–19), and from 1919 to 1922 taught in Nicaragua.[7]

Back in Mexico, a new constitution for the country had been signed (1917). Five articles of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico were particularly aimed at suppression of the Catholic Church. Article 3 mandated secular education in schools, prohibiting the Church from participating in primary and secondary education. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders. Article 24 forbade public worship outside of church buildings, while Article 27 restricted religious organizations' rights to own property. Finally, Article 130 revoked basic civil rights of clergy members: priests and religious workers were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were forbidden from commenting on public affairs to the press. 

Return to Mexico

In summer 1926 – his studies in Europe completed – Pro returned to Mexico. On the way he visited Lourdes where he celebrated Mass and visited the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Pro arrived at Veracruz on July 8, 1926. Plutarco Elías Calles was now president of Mexico. Unlike his predecessors, Calles vigorously enforced the anti-Catholic provisions of the 1917 constitution, implementing the so-called Calles Law, which provided specific penalties for priests who criticized the government (five years' imprisonment) or wore clerical garb in certain situations outside their churches (500 pesos). This law went into effect on July 31, 1926.

By this time, some states, such as Tabasco under the notorious anti-Catholic Tomás Garrido Canabal, had closed all the churches and cleared the entire state of openly serving priests, killing many of them, forcing a few to marry, and the remaining few serving covertly at risk of their lives. On his return Pro served a Church which was forced to go "underground." He celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics.[8]

Details of Pro's ministry in the underground church come from his many letters, signed with the nickname Cocol. In October 1926, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was arrested and released from prison the next day, but kept under surveillance.

A failed attempt to assassinate Álvaro Obregón, which only wounded him, in November 1927, provided the state with a pretext for arresting Pro again, this time with his brothers Humberto and Roberto. A young engineer who confessed his part in the assassination testified that the Pro brothers were not involved.[9] Miguel and his brothers were taken to the Detective Inspector's Office in Mexico City.

On November 23, 1927, Pro was executed without trial.[10] President Calles gave orders to have Pro executed for the assassination attempt. Calles had the execution meticulously photographed, and the newspapers throughout the country carried photos on the front page the following day. Presumably, Calles thought that the sight of the pictures would frighten the Cristero rebels who were fighting against his troops, particularly in the state of Jalisco. However, they had the opposite effect.[2]

Pro and his brothers were visited by Generals Roberto Cruz and Palomera Lopez around 11 p.m. on November 22, 1927. The next day, as Pro walked from his cell to the courtyard and the firing squad, he blessed the soldiers, knelt, and briefly prayed quietly. 

 

Declining a blindfold, he faced his executioners with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other and held his arms out in imitation of the crucified Christ and shouted out, "May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!" Before the firing squad was ordered to shoot, Pro raised his arms in imitation of Christ and shouted the defiant cry of the Cristeros, "Viva Cristo Rey!" – "Long live Christ the King!".[11] When the initial shots of the firing squad failed to kill him, a soldier shot him at point-blank range.

 


 

Calles is reported to have looked down upon a throng of 40,000 which lined Pro's funeral procession. Another 20,000 waited at the cemetery where he was buried without a priest present, his father saying the final words. The Cristeros became more animated and fought with renewed enthusiasm, many of them carrying the newspaper photo of Pro before the firing squad. 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Pro