Spanish Claretian missionary Pedro Casaldáliga, bishop of the poor and the forgotten, died at 92 years of age, in the city of Batatais, in Brazil.
Fr. Ronaldo is from the same community as Bishop Casaldáliga, and he accompanied him until his final breath.
FR. RONALDO MAZULA
“He died smiling, calm, serene, in peace. He was a man united with God. With his death, he gives witness of peace of heart, of peace in communion with God.”
Pedro Casaldáliga was born in Balsareny, Spain, in 1928. He arrived in the Brazilian Amazon in 1968, in São Félix do Araguaia, a municipality of Mato Grosso.
He found himself in an abandoned region, 150,000 square kilometers of jungles and rivers inhabited by indigenous people, impoverished peasants and laborers.
Early on, his fight for these people and for their right to the land earned him a number of threats from landowners and the government. That's why he never went back to Spain; he was afraid that if he left his people, Brazilian authorities wouldn't let him return.
As a matter of fact, in the 1970s, when he was already a bishop, the government tried several times to drive him out of the country. Pope Paul VI came to his defense to prevent his expulsion. “Whoever touches Pedro touches Paul,” said the pontiff.
Casaldáliga never faltered in his prophetic denunciation from the teachings of the Gospel.
FR. RONALDO MAZULA
“Pedro gave his life out of great love for the Father, for the Holy Trinity, for the Virgin Mary, and with a special commitment to the people of God.”
He was a revolutionary. He was called to the Vatican in 1988 for some of his opinions and pastoral practices. After clearing up these misunderstandings, Casaldáliga reaffirmed his fidelity to the pontificate.
In 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. “Brother Parkinson,” he would say. In 2005, he retired and became a bishop emeritus. His humanitarian and pastoral work earned him dozens of prizes. He is also well-known for his poetry and writings, having penned over 50 works.
Vigil was kept for the Claretian bishop in Batatais. He was surrounded by all those people he always said he carried in his heart. He will rest forever on the banks of the Araguaia River that runs through the region for which he gave his life.