For many Basque patriots, for those who fought for freedom and democracy during the war that followed Franco’s military coup and the 40 years of dictatorship he imposed after the rebels won, to speak of the Basque Passionists is to speak of the commitment of this group with those persecuted for the cause of justice.
We’re not speaking only of the example set by Aita Patxi, the Passionist chaplain of the gudaris, who volunteered to be shot in place of those condemned by the Franco’s infamous freedom-killing tribunals. We’re also speaking of the permanent commitment to freedom and to the Cause of the Basque People, and not just a clear anti-Francoist position, though that’s certainly part. We’re talking about an ironclad commitment with the Basque language and Basque culture. We’re talking about a commitment to defend the souls of the Basques.
But that commitment with the weak and persecuted has not exclusively been focused on their Basque compatriots.
We’ve spoken a great deal about the presence of the Basque Passionsts in the jungles of Peru’s Amazon, where they were sent by the Pope in 1912 to attend to the spiritual needs of the Christians in those lands. And that’s what they did. But they didn’t stop there, because what they focused on was a commitment to the defense of those communities they tended to. The Passionists who left the Basque Country for Yurimaguas have, for the last 100 years, been the ture driver of social development in those lands, working in the stead of a State that was never able to quite get there.
It’s for us at home to understand the depth and breadth of that work. But listening to Jesús María Aristín in the two interviews we’ve had with him, we can get an idea of their titanic work.
On December 8 at the Yurimaguas Cathedral, the ordination of Aristín as the titular bishop of this Apostolic Vicariate was held after Pope Francis named him, thereby guaranteeing the work, social focus, and commitment the Passionists have had there so far.
We’ll leave you with the broadcast of the event on Radio Oriente, the radio and television broadcaster started by the Passionists in 1956, becoming the first broadcaster in Alto Amazonas.
There are three very special moments in it from the new bishop.
The first is the greeting from the communities of the native peoples to the new bishop after he was named (1:10:45). It must not be forgotten that the newly named bishop has been deeply committed to working, very hard, shoulder to shoulder, with these communities for years.
The second is a small chat he has with those in attendance, almost at the end of the ceremony (1:49:45). Before the civilian and military authorities, and before the representatives of the communities to be found within the Vicariate, he speaks of the defense of the land and of the struggle against exploitation and the polluting of the environment, and denounces large corporations which plunder natural resources, some of whom he specifically names (something he’s done as well in conversations we’ve had).
The last one is at the end of the ceremony (2:03:10), when the recently-named bishop calls the Virgin of the Snows, the patron of Yurimaguas, our “amatxo“.
The mark these men and women who left their homeland to dedicate their lives to helping and supporting other cultures and other peoples is truly inspiring.
This year we dedicated our entry, together with Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea – Lima Basque Center, for the Day of the Diaspora to transmitting the message that Aristín, as a Basque Passionist in the Amazon, sent to all his compatriots around the world. It is a message of commitment and of respect,which are the same principles that have guided the work of these hundreds of Basques in that part of the world.