Guatemalan bishops thanked Pope Francis for recognising the martyrdom of Fr Stanley Rother of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the first martyr born in the United States.
Eighteen prelates from Guatemala met with the pope on 22nd May during their ‘ad limina’ visit, presenting him with an embroidered image of the slain American priest.
Bishop Gonzalo de Villa Vasquez of Solola-Chimaltenango, the diocese where Fr Rother lived, worked and died, said the priest who is to be beatified in September is one of many priests and laity in the country who gave their lives for Christ during the country’s brutal 1960-1996 civil war.
“That was the reason for this conversation, because we are the heirs of a martyred church,” Bishop de Villa told Catholic News Service on 23rd May.
The bishop said he was moved by the pope’s affection and concern for the people of Guatemala, a closeness shared by Fr Rother, who served as a missionary to the indigenous people of Santiago Atitlan until his murder on 28th July 1981.
Picture: Fr Stanley Rother, a priest of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese who was brutally murdered in 1981 in the Guatemalan village where he ministered to the poor, is shown baptising a child in this undated photo. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced the North American priest will be beatified in Oklahoma on 23rd September. (CNS).