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The Cristeros and us


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Most Americans haven't the foggiest idea that a quasi-Stalinist, violently anti-Catholic regime once existed on our southern borders. Those who don't know how bad Mexico was in the late 1920s are about to learn, though: at least those who see "For Greater Glory," a recently-released movie about the Cristero War, a passionate (and bloody) defense of Catholicism that's remembered today, if at all, because of Graham Greene's novel, "The Power and the Glory."

There's been a strange silence about all this for almost a century. Even Catholics aware of the extent of 20th-century martyrdom seem to have little sense of the modern Mexican martyrs--although the addition of the memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions to the universal liturgical calendar (May 21) ought to remind North American Catholics just what was going on south of the Rio Grande during the years when the brutal government of Plutarco Elias Calles tried to destroy the Catholic Church in Mexico. It was a terrible time, and the example of the Cristeros, who included both underground priests like Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. (perhaps the first martyr in two millennia to be photographed at the moment of his death) and fighters like General Enrique Gorostieta (well-played by Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia in the new film) ought to inspire 21st-century Catholics to stand firm in defense of religious freedom.

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