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Death of Samuel Ruiz, Bishop of the Indians, affiliated to the Institute

27/01/2011: Mexico

The Secretary General of the Mexican Episcopate communicated with sorrow the news, on Monday, 24 January 2011, of the death of Monsignor Samuel Ruiz García, Emeritus Bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the State of Chiapas. The bishop was affiliated to the Institute by the Marist Province of México Central in December 2010, as reported on this site, in recognition of his closeness to and support of the Brothers in the mission of Guadalupe, a missionary work of the Brothers in Chiapas. He died in Mexico City, where he had spent the last two weeks in hospital, owing to pulmonary and renal failure, coronary problems, and prolonged diabetes. His body will be transferred to the cathedral of the diocese of which he was pastor.Monsignor Ruiz García, born on 11 November 1924 in Irapuato, was ordained priest on 2 April 1949. Appointed by John XXIII on 14 November 1959 as Bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, he received episcopal consecration on 25 January 1960. He guided this diocese until 2000, when he retired to the city of Querétaro.The bishop acted as mediator with the Zapatista guerillas in Chiapas. Samuel Ruiz was well known and respected in Mexico for his work in favor of peace and for his defence of the rights of the indigeneous groups. He founded in 1989 the Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, which carried out work in favor of the indigeneous peoples, receiving wide recognition, including the Simón Bolívar Prize, awarded by UNESCO in 2000, for his especial personal commitment and his role as mediator, thus contributing to peace and respect for the dignity of minorities.The current Bishop of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi, said in 2009 during the celebrations for the 50 years of Ruiz’ ordination that the latter’s vocation was branded by discovering and seeing from close quarters the marginalization of a number of communities in the face of a situation of generalized oppression. Samuel’s motto was: “To build and to plant”. At the conclusion of his homily on 25 January 2010, on the occasion of his golden jubilee as bishop, in the Plaza Cathedral, he said: We are infinitely grateful to God, Three and One, for having made us his son and called us as pastor of his Church, to build and plant his Kingdom of justice, love and peace.He was noted for the integral promotion of the Indians, his preferential option for the poor, the freedom with which he denounced injustice, his defence of human rights, the pastoral outreach in the social situation and in history, inculturation of the Church, the promotion of the dignity of women, united ministry, Indian theology, as the search for the presence of God in the original cultures, etc.The Brothers of the Province of Mexico Central worked closely with this man of God, “Our Father” as the indigenous peoples of Chiapas called him. On being affiliated to the Institute he said: “In the wars, they put up statues to generals, but at the front, it’s the soldiers who die. People look at me, but what has happened in Chiapas would not have been possible without the Marist Brothers”. With the evangelization carried out by hundreds of indigenous catechists, many of them formed by the Brothers, these peoples have been recovering their sense of human dignity. May he rest in peace.

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