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Priest’s Last Words: “I Forgive You”
Friend Tells of Spaniard Slain in Cuba

ICC Note: This is an update on a story posted two weeks ago, and indicates that the priest was not murdered for his faith, but as part of a robbery. This article gives insight into what it is like to live in Cuba, where not only does the government severely control churches, but the oppressive poverty makes life difficult for all.

07/22/09 Cuba (Zenit.org) – The last words of Father Mariano Arroyo Merino expressed his forgiveness for the would-be robbers who knifed and burned him.

The Spanish priest, 74, was murdered July 13 at his parish of Our Lady of Regla, in Havana, Cuba. Father Arroyo was the second Spanish priest to be assassinated in Cuba in less than a year. Father Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, 59, was killed Feb. 14.

Father Isidro Hoyos, another Spaniard who carries out his ministry in Cuba, was a friend of them both. In Santander for vacation, Father Hoyos was interviewed by the Diario Montañés. He recounted that Father Arroyo’s last words were “I forgive you.”

This revelation came from the suspect who has admitted to killing the priest.

He said he supposes that the investigations are correct in presuming the motive for Father Arroyo’s murder was an attempted robbery.

“Mariano had a big safe but he didn’t have much of value there — only a crown for Our Lady that had more sentimental than monetary value. It was very old,” he noted. “If he had money, it wouldn’t have been much. Mariano had just finished doing some work in the parish because it was in very poor conditions. And if he had money from donations, he didn’t keep it in the house but in the bishopric. In any case, if the robber would have given him the choice between the money and his life, undoubtedly Mariano would have given him the money without resistance.”

The two suspects under arrest for the murder have confessed, Father Hoyos noted, “and the one who killed Mariano revealed that his last words were, ‘I forgive you.'”

And that would be characteristic of Father Mariano, his friend contended. “He was a profoundly religious man. He was very coherent, very austere.”

Father Hoyos added that it was no surprise multitudes attended the funeral. “I imagined that would happen,” he said. “Mariano was very well-known there. I think that it was the biggest gathering Havana has seen, not counting Castro’s manifestations.” … [Go To Full Story]