Featured Image
Archbishop Héctor AguerTodo Noticias/YouTube

(LifeSiteNews) — December 22 will be the 50th anniversary of the martyrdom of Carlos Sacheri. I write “martyrdom” without hesitation, not “murder,” even though the bishop of San Isidro does not consider it appropriate to open a cause for his beatification, based on a negative report signed by canonist Vicente Llambías.

The Argentine Church must finally recognize the reality of an occurrence that enriches it. On this anniversary it is necessary to spread the character and work of this distinguished layman. The self-styled People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP) was the author of Sacheri’s assassination, which took place when his family was returning home from Mass. The blood of the martyr splashed his wife María Marta Cigorraga and their five children; José María, the eldest, was 14 years old. Martyrdom is called a witness to Christ; death seals the life of the witness: without words he affirms that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Sacheri affirmed it with his life of faith and ratified it with his final surrender.

Sacheri was a philosopher trained in Argentina and at Laval University in the Canadian province of Quebec. His specialty was the Catholic presence in a secularized, de-Christianized world. His sources were classical philosophy and the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. His cultural and sociological understanding constituted a vast knowledge of contemporary reality and its roots. The social doctrine of the Church was the main subject of his articles and lectures, multiplied in environments as diverse as academia and the neighborhood parish.

It can be said that Sacheri was the most relevant Catholic layman of his generation. His personality extended to the political order (the life of the polis), over and above party membership. The ERP brought Gramscian culture to terrorism. Sacheri was able to see that the main issue for the Church was its presence in the cultural realm, where the future was defined through a cultural battle with the modern world, won by the anti-Christian revolution.

Sacheri’s legacy can be found in his two books: The Natural Order and The Clandestine Church.

The Natural Order is a clearly and precisely written work of philosophy. The notion of order (ordo) is metaphysical, illuminating the socio-political field from the heights of the first principles of reality. The inspiration of Sacheri’s work is the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. The same can be said of the concept of nature (natura), which is currently denied or cast aside. By denying the reality of nature, the human person cannot be understood. Man becomes an enigma, and everything that pertains to his development, life, destiny, marriage, and family are distorted. The unnatural becomes natural. In this lies the perversity of a culture that forcefully imposes itself on reality. Reading The Natural Order is more important today than at the time of its publication.

The Clandestine Church is a theological and historical critique that illuminates a turbulent era, today unknown or supposedly altered by progressivism. In the 1960s and ’70s, the Church was taken over by clerical groups that, with international support, proposed a social revolution influenced by Marxist infiltration. The clandestine nature of this is clearly exposed in Sacheri’s work, with first and last names. It is a very valuable document for the history of the Argentine Church. At the center of this history is the Movement of Priests for the Third World; many of the priests of this group left ministry to get married. Father Carlos Mugica, whose murder will also have been 50 years ago on May 11, belonged to this movement.

Note that in this case I say “murder,” not “martyrdom.” The reason for this horrendous crime was not religious but political. In fact, Father Carlos, who worked in the Retiro slum, had supported the Montoneros – among whom were followers of his – but when this subversive organization and General Juan Perón separated, Mugica adhered to the former president. It was for this reason that the Montoneros, who had repeatedly threatened Mugica, killed him at the door of the San Francisco Solano parish in the Villa Luro district of Buenos Aires.

Mugica was strongly politicized in a turbulent period when the divisions of Peronism were aired out. Ceferino Reato’s book Father Mugica was recently published; it recounts the course of the priest’s life and the circumstances of his death, though it does not identify the perpetrators, because it also talked about the responsibility of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (the “Triple A”), a parastatal group that answered to José López Rega.

I had no dealings with Carlos Mugica, who was 13 years older than me and had been a priest for five years when I entered the seminary. I do have a touching memory: we both cried at the funeral Mass of Father Julio Meinvielle. This illustrious priest was the one who initiated me in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas and guided me toward the restoration of the Angelic Doctor’s metaphysics by Cornelio Fabro. While I was still a seminarian, Don Julio gave me Fabro’s La nozione metafisica di partecipazione (The Metaphysical Notion of Participation). Mugica used to visit Father Meinvielle, although they differed politically because of Mugica’s adherence to Peronism.

The priestly work of Mugica, who gave himself generously to the service of slum dwellers (villeros), must be objectively valued, though it is debatable whether this activity was properly evangelizing, especially the social aid. To me it’s an exaggeration to consider Father Carlos Mugica a priestly model. It is important to point out that this extraordinary priest lived the vow of celibacy and publicly vindicated it. In short, he was a sympathetic and at the same time complex personality due to his origin in the Buenos Aires oligarchy; his life was spent between Recoleta and the slums. His murder was a horrendous crime that shook his faithful villeros, who kept his memory alive with devotion and gratitude.

+ Héctor Aguer
Archbishop Emeritus of La Plata

Buenos Aires
Friday, April 12, 2024