AMERICA/ARGENTINA - A "missionary tent" in Plaza de Mayo to commemorate Father Mugica and all the witnesses killed during the years of the military dictatorship

Saturday, 23 March 2024

Buenos Aires (Agenzia Fides) - "As Jesus announced, they are blessed". They are the Bishops, priests, men and women religious and lay people killed during the years of the military dictatorship, as they witnessed in word and deed their faith in Christ. Referring to their "beatitude" is the team of priests who work in the Villas Miseria and working-class neighborhoods of Argentine cities. On Sunday, March 24, the day in which the "new martyrs" are remembered every year, the priests of the team convened a gathering around the "missionary tent" that will be set up in Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires, to remember those who in those years of violence "starting from their faith fought for justice and were persecuted, many of them to the point of martyrdom".
March 24, Palm Sunday, also marks the 32nd Day of Missionary Martyrs. In 1992, the then Youth Movement of the Italian Pontifical Mission Societies proposed for the first time to the Italian Church the celebration of a Day that would commemorate those who are killed every year during their pastoral service. The celebration since then was placed on the day of the assassination of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Salvadoran Archbishop who was murdered on March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass in the Hospedalito chapel in San Salvador. The anniversary to commemorate the newly killed witnesses of the faith has since spread from Italy to other countries around the world.

In 2024 – recalls the team of priests from Villas Miseria and the working-class neighborhoods recalls in the communiqué released ahead of the Plaza de Mayo iniziative –will also be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Father Carlos Mugica, who was killed on May 11, 1974 in front of the parish of San Francisco Solano.
Carlos Mugica was one of the first Argentine priests to join the Movement of Priests for the Third World, who after the Second Vatican Council, along the lines of figures such as Brazilian Bishop Helder Càmara, were involved in popular struggles in the name of the ecclesial option for the poor, and chose to carry out their priestly ministry among the poor and immigrants who crowded the slums scattered throughout the urban fabric of Buenos Aires and Argentina's metropolises.
"Nothing and no one will stop me from serving Jesus Christ and his Church by fighting together with the poor for their liberation," Father Mugica wrote. His funeral was attended by more than 20,000 people. In recent weeks, a traveling exhibition dedicated to him is being displayed and visited in parishes in the urban area of Greater Buenos Aires. The "carpa misionera" set up in the Plaza de Mayo on Sunday, March 24, also serves to make known the stories of Father Mugica and other witnesses dear to the ecclesial memory of the team of priests who today work in the Argentine working-class neighborhoods. "We continue to accompany our neighbors," they write in the statement convening the event, "in the struggle for justice. Embracing 'life as it comes,' in children, adolescents and youth, with 'the chapel, the school and the club,' to address today's injustices." (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 23/3/2024)