Lest We Forget
In the Church's 2000-year-history the example set by Christ on the Cross has been imitated by men and women on every continent in the world. The Church's enemies, in their blind hatred, have failed to take note of one undeniable fact: martyrdom does not weaken the re-solve of the faithful.
In eclipsing the number of martyrs beatified at Pope Pius IX's 19th Century beatification ceremony (of 206 Japanese), John Paul II beatified 233 Spanish martyrs.
There were 30,000 in attendance at St. Peter's Square, on March 11, 2001 when His Holiness stated the victims of Spain's persecution in the Civil War of 1936-1939 "were men and women of all ages and conditions ... before dying, all of them forgave their executioners. They were not involved in political or ideological struggles. They died for religious reasons."
War takes its toll on the innocent. All too often the Church, protector of the innocent, has come under fire as a target for destruction by the combatants. Being "in the wrong place, at the wrong time," is a trite excuse for attempts to exterminate physical evidence of the Church's presence whether it be religious, lay people, architecture or art. Even those fighting "in God's name" have proven the contrary.
In reminding us of the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, the Holy Father is also reaffirming the truth of Our Lady's prophetic words "Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecution of the Church. The good will be martyred."
As soldiers of Mary, we have a duty to make Her Fatima Message known. We also have the duty to pray the Rosary; pray for the Holy Father; and encourage our bishops to inform Pope John Paul II of their willingness to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary together with him.
Our Blessed Mother has promised us peace. Our Lord has given this command to His ministers to obey so the promise can be fulfilled. Then, and only then, will the world know true and lasting peace.