PERSECUTED AND PROTECTED
Claret wrote these lines in 1862 when he still had eight years of life and suffering: abuse, attempts at poisoning, defamed in books, magazines and posters and even on matchboxes they printed obscene caricatures and satirical verses. He has been perhaps the most persecuted person in the history of the Church.
The question that arises is: What did Claret do to provoke such anger regarding his person? He was not just some insignificant person, he dedicated himself to popular preaching and brought multitudes of people around him which, in a time of civil war, made him suspect. More than once did his preaching on an ethical Gospel convert some people who were already committed to leading a revolution, thus frustrating it. In Cuba some priests who led a disordered life were not able to back his demand for fidelity to their moral, spiritual and pastoral commitment; the land owners and slave masters saw in him a threat to their business, and the governors could not tolerate the fact that he put himself above the racist laws relating to marriage.
Pope Benedict XVI, referring to the temptations of Jesus, speaks about a constant temptation of man: ‘to put order into our world for ourselves alone, without God….To recognize as truths only those political and material realities and to leave God on one side as something illusory’. (p. 52 Jesús de Nazaret, ed. Española). Claret, herald of a God who is present and active, denounced the nascent practical atheism of his day, for which his destiny could only be rejection: the ‘world’ (in the Joanine sense) has to offer resistance to such news. But Jesus collaborated in that.