Sunday, November 11, 2007

In Argentina, a Native Blessed

The "Vice-Pope" Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is in Argentina this weekend to beatify the nation's first indigenous product to reach the threshold of sainthood.

Not coincidentally, Bl Ceferino Namuncura -- who died of tuberculosis in 1905, aged 18 -- was a seminarian of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the community of the Cardinal-Secretary of State.
[Namuncura] has a wide following among the Argentina's poor....

Bertone, will lead the ceremony in the southern Argentine community of Chimpay. It will be the first such ceremony held in Argentina under new efforts by the pope to beatify subjects in their homelands rather than Rome.

Church investigators have attributed a miracle to Namuncura based on an Argentine woman's claim that devotion to Namuncura helped her survive uterine cancer in 2000.

The first Indian saint in the Americas, Juan Diego, was canonized by Pope John Paul II in a Mexico City ceremony in 2002.

Some Indians have criticized Namuncura's beatification, noting that his father was a Mapuche Indian leader who resisted Argentine military campaigns blamed for eradicating indigenous peoples.

Jorge Nahuel, a spokesman for one Mapuche group, claimed that Namuncura "was handed over to be converted to Christianity" and called the decision to beatify Namuncura a "real offense against the history of our people."
PHOTO: AP/Arzobispado de Buenos Aires