Catalonia, Spain. Pere Casaldàliga, CMF received, posthumously, the Medal of the City of Sabadell to the citizen merit, last March 23. A recognition that comes a few months after his death in Brazil, where he was bishop of São Félix do Araguaia. The Major Superior of the Province Sanctus Paulus, Fr. Ricard Costa-Jussà, CMF, was present in representation of the whole Claretian Family. The Father Abbot of Montserrat, Josep Maria Soler, who was a disciple of Casaldàliga in his youth, has glossed the figure of Bishop Pedro. The mayoress, Marta Farrés, presided over the ceremony and presented the medal to Glòria Casaldàliga, the bishop’s niece. The ceremony was held in the Plenary Hall of the City Council of Sabadell.
From the beginning Soler, as a disciple of the bishop, has referred to Casaldàliga as “universal Catalan”. The abbot insisted on the meaning of Sabadell for the Claretian missionary: “Sabadell was not just another destination, it was his first love, the first forge in many aspects of life”. In his speech he recalled the Sabadell life of Casaldàliga. He arrived at the age of 24 after his ordination. The city was the place of his first experiences with a harsh social reality that touched him directly for the first time. According to Soler, the six years he spent in the Sabadell of the factories, the barracks and the young apprentices, marked him for life. “Without the experiences in Sabadell, his causes would have had a different dimension,” he said. These initial experiences were deployed with an international echo in Brazil, in the defense of the indigenous people and the denunciation of the oppressive powers.
The abbot of Montserrat highlighted the bishop’s activity as a teacher at the Heart of Mary School, the current Claret School in Sabadell. “He was really a teacher, a witness who with life and word taught to live and go deep”, he recalled. He also explained the impact felt by the students “for his simplicity, for his desire to live with simplicity, for his attentive treatment and for his respect in spite of being adolescents of the first hour”. He also referred to his work for immigrants to the best of his ability.
Gloria Casaldàliga, niece of the bishop and president of the Pere Casaldàliga Foundation, thanked him for the distinction and emphasized the symbolism “of a requited love”. She referred to his approach to the marginalized and impoverished groups in his work in Sabadell. Casaldàliga recalled the bishop’svocation as a journalist with his participation in Radio Sabadell and the magazine Eufòria, which had theparticipation of many young people from Sabadell. Casaldàliga was convinced that “today’s recognition is a commitment of all citizens in favor of justice, freedom and peace”.
Farrés began the ceremony by highlighting the importance of the award to Pere Casaldàliga. “It is a recognition as a reference in the defense and fight for the rights of people, especially for the weakest and most disadvantaged people”. The mayor also remarked the values that the bishop represents: “he is a symbol of solidarity, of helping others and of commitment”. She assured that “we like very much, as Sabadell, that these values are linked to our city”.
Monsignor Casaldàliga will also receive the Gold Medal for Civic Merit of Barcelona posthumously. This has been unanimously approved by the municipal plenary of the Catalan capital, which will also grant this distinction to Manel Pousa, better known as Father Manel, as icons of activism and social justice until his death, which in both cases occurred last year.