Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Death of a Saint

From the San Cristóbal Diocese

Today, January 24 2011, at 10:00 am, Mons. Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Bishop Emeritus of San Cristobal de las Casas, ended his pilgrimage on earth and passed into full Life.

He died in Mexico City, where he had been hospitalized for two weeks, due to pulmonary and renal insufficiencies, coronary and carotid problems and prolonged diabetes.
His remains were taken today to the Cathedral of San Cristobal, where, beginning at 7:00 pm, they will be on review, for the prayers of the faithful and the farewells of the communities.
In the Cathedral, masses will be celebrated at different times, principally at 12:00 and 7:00 pm; in particular, this Tuesday, there will be a celebration of his 51st episcopal ordination.
He will be buried in the Cathedral on Wednesday January 26, beginning with an internment mass in the Cathedral Plaza at 12:00 pm.

He was born on November 3, 1924, in Irapuato, Guanajuato. His studies were done in the Seminary of Leon, Guanajuato. He was sent to Rome for specialized studies in Holy Scripture in the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Biblical Institute, where he obtained a doctorate.

From 1952 to 1959, he was a professor , prefector of studies and rector of the Seminary of Leon.
He was named Bishop of Chiapas on November 14, 1959 by Pope John 23, and consecrated in the Cathedral of San Cristobal on January 25, 1960, becoming the 35th bishop of this Diocese.
He has received different recognitions, distinctions, prizes and medals in different parts of the world.  He participated in the four Vatican II Councils, from 1962 to 1965.  From 1965 to 1973, in the Episcopal Conference of Mexico, he presided over the Commission for the Indigenous, instilling a renewed spirit to indigenous pastoral work.  In 1968, he participated in the II Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) in Medellin, Colombia, and was elected President of the Department of Mission of the CELAM, which concerned indigenous pastoral work.

In 1970, he convened and presided over the "Xicotepec" Meeting, which revolutionized pastoral work with the indigenous: there would no longer be an "indigenist" pastorate, in which the indigenous are merely objects of evangelization, but they would grow and become actors within their own church and society.  In 1974, the state government entrusted him with the development of the Indigenous Congress, in which different ethnicities of Chiapas gave their pronouncements and demanded their human rights.  In 1975, he convened the first of the Diocesan Assemblies, which have been continued to be held without interruption since that date. In that year, he also initiated the Permanent Diaconate, primarily within indigenous communities, as a form in which the church could incarnate and grow within those cultures. At the end of his service in May, 2000, there were 341 permanent deacons.

From 1982 to 1995, he compelled attention to the refugees which had fled from Guatemala, because of the war in that country.  In 1993, he published his Pastoral Letter: "In this Hour of Grace", in which he warned of the gravity of the injustices against the indigenous.  From 1994 to 1998, he served as Mediator in the conflict between the EZLN and the federal government, and founded the National Commission of Mediation (CONAI) in October, 1994. On February 16, 1995, he participated in the signing of the San Andres Peace Accords.

On July 20, 1994, he convened the III Diocesan Synod, which was formally initiated on January 25, 1995 and ended on November 3, 1999, the day he turned 75 years of age. On that date, faithful to the that which had been prescribed by Vatican II, he signed his resignation from the Diocese, which was accepted on March 30, 2000. From that day until May 1, 2000, he functioned as the Diocesan Administrator until the arrival of his successor.

In order to respect the pastoral work of his successor, he moved to the city of Queretaro, where he lived until the end of his life. From there, he continued to serve the indigenous and the cause of the poor, in whatever place and circumstance which required his presence.

The theme of his episcopate was: To Teach and to Instill. Alluding to this theme, he ended his homily on January 25, 2010, on the golden anniversary of his installation as bishop, in the Cathedral Plaza: "We give infinite thanks to the Lord, Triune and One, for having made us His children, and for having called us as pastor of His Church, to educate and instill His Kingdom of justice, love and peace."
He leaves as his legacy his efforts in:

1. The promotion of the integration of the indigenous, that they may be actors within the church and the society.
2. The preferential option for the poor and the liberation of the oppressed, as a sign of the Kingdom of God.
3. The freedom to denounce injustices before any arbitrary power.
4. The defense of human rights.
5. Pastoral involvement in social realities and history.
6. The adaptation of the church to the culture, promoting native, autochthonous churches in different cultures--indigenous and mestizo--as was urged by the Council of Vatican II.
7. The promotion of women's rights and her equal responsibilities in the church and society.
8. A Church which is open to the world and a servant of the people
9. Ecumenism not only with other Christian confessions, but with all religions.
10. Mutual pastoral work with shared responsibility.
11. Indian Theology, as a search for the presence of God in the original cultures.
12. The Permanent Diaconate as a specifically indigenous process.
13. Reconciliation within the communities.
14. Unity in diversity.
15. The affective and effective communion with Peter's Successor and the Church Universal (III Synod, 571).

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