By Msgr. James T. Murphy
Published by Ignatius Press
2019, Softcover, 286 pages
This provocative account of the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s tells the stories of eight pivotal players. The saints are now honored as martyrs by the Catholic Church, and the sinners were political and military leaders who were accomplices in the persecution.
The saintly standouts are Anacleto González Flores, whose non-violent demonstrations ended with his death after a day of brutal torture;Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jiménez, who ran his vast archdiocese from hiding while on the run from the Mexican government; Fr. Toribio Romo González, who was shot in his bed one morning simply for being a Catholic priest; and Fr. Miguel Pro, the famous Jesuit who kept slipping through the hands of the military police in Mexico City despite being on the “most wanted” list for sixteen months.
The four sinners are Melchor Ocampo, the powerful politician who believed that Catholicism was the cause of Mexico’s problems; President Plutarco Elías Calles, the fanatical atheist who brutally persecuted the Church; José Reyes Vega, the priest who ignored the orders of his archbishop and became a general in the Cristero army; and Tomás Garrido Canabal, a farmer-turned-politician who became known as the “Scourge of Tabasco”.
This cast of characters is presented in a compelling narrative of the Cristero War that engages the reader like a gripping novel while it unfolds a largely unknown chapter in the history of America.