Catholics Die Fighting President's Mandate In New Movie

Craig Bannister | June 1, 2012 | 9:24am EDT
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Opening in theaters today, “For Greater Glory,” starring Andy Garcia, tells the story of Catholics who die fighting a president who issues a mandate to rob them of religious freedom and destroy the Church in a bid to gain supreme authority.

The president begins his assault on the Church by feigning respect for his citizens while limiting the right of priests to speak freely to their parishioners. But, when the people peacefully protest his dictates, he mandates that all churches be closed – and sends his military into churches to slaughter parishioners and priests to send the message that the price of loyalty to God, rather than government, is death.

As the struggle escalates, non-Catholics and even atheists join the fight for religious freedom – but, politicians strike a deal to trade guns for oil, aiding the federal government’s bid to crush the resistance.

Sound familiar?

It’s the story of the Mexican rebellion against the military dictatorship of anti-Catholic President Plutarco Calles in the 1920’s. Calles ordered all Catholic churches closed, outlawed mass, and murdered and exiled priests – all in a bid to destroy the influence of the Church in a predominately Catholic society.

Guns blaze as freedom fighters clash with the president’s brutal military.

The movie tells the stories of three freedom fighters, each of whom bravely pays the ultimate price in the struggle to regain Mexicans’ right to freely practice their beliefs.

There’s General Enrique Gorostieta (portrayed by Andy Garcia), a man devoid of faith who joins the fight for money. But, as he experiences the heroism and ideals of the resistance fighters he was hired to lead, he ultimately embraces the cause and finds faith before being killed by the Federales.

There’s Father Christopher, an elderly parish priest (played by Peter O’Toole), who proudly and humbly sits down in his church and waits for the military to come and murder him, rather than flee the church he devoted his life to. But, not before taking a wayward teen under his wing, beginning to train him to be an altar boy…and, ultimately, inspiring him to become a sainted martyr for the faith.

The boy, Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio (played by Mauricio Kuri), grows in faith and resolve after Father Christopher’s death at the hands of the president’s army. Though still a teen, he seeks out Gen. Gorostieta and pleads to join the fight for freedom. Touched by Jose’s faith, but wanting to keep him out of harm’s way, the general agrees to let Jose help out around the camp.

But, Jose is captured by the president’s army. He is tortured and threatened with death. Still, he is given one last chance for freedom. All he has to do is verbally renounce his faith.

Words, mere words, he’s told. Simply say them, even if you don’t mean them, and you may live and go free.

His response is both a humbling call to self-reflection and inspirational, the stuff of which legends are made.

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