Monday, August 4, 2008

Bl. Peter To Rot: a Martyr for Marriage

Bl. Peter To Rot was one of the Heavenly Patrons of WYD08, and a saint who deserves, it seems to me, to be more widely known among the faithful, given his brave witness to the truth about marriage (a truth besieged and ridiculed in the West). Here is an extract from an article in yesterday's Sydney Catholic Weekly:

Peter To Rot was martyred for his Catholic faith by the Japanese in 1945, aged only 33. He was the son of a Melanesian tribal chieftain and his wife – Angelo To Puia and Maria la Tumul – who were among the first generation of converted Catholics in the region at that time. A very spiritual person even from an early age, Peter had become a catechist at the age of 18, so that he would be able to aid the missionaries in their work. Although the thought of becoming a priest was something he considered, at the age of 24 he married and started a family.
In 1942, the Japanese occupied Papua New Guinea and slowly began to put a stop to the work of Catholic missionaries. Many missionary staff were imprisoned in concentration camps but, as Peter was not strictly a missionary, he was able to stay in Rakunai. In this way, he continued to work hard for the Church, providing prayer services, doctrine and catechism, administering Baptism and, most importantly, preserving the Eucharist and giving it to those who were sick and dying. He was widely known as a champion of the poor.
While at first the Japanese did not completely ban Catholic practices, they later decreed that all types of religious gatherings and worship would be forbidden. As well as this, and in order to entice the local chieftains to side with them, they mandated that the practice of polygamy would be reinstated.
Peter To Rot made a stand for the sanctity of marriage and its significance as part of Catholic teaching. His decision to do this, in defiance of occupying power, meant that he had to speak out publicly against his own brother, Joseph, who agreed with the reinstatement of polygamy.
Peter To Rot was arrested and incarcerated for his views. The military occupants of the islands saw him as a real threat and an impediment to their plans. In 1945, he suffered a horrible death by lethal injection. He was a martyr for his faith.

Clearly then, we may situate Bl. Peter in the lineage of Martyrs for the Christian ideal of marriage, beginning with St. John the Baptist, stretching into the Protestant Revolt with St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, and with Bl. Peter the most recent (as far as I know) to win the Crown of Martyrdom for this cause. We must look to his example and draw on his merits as we stand up for God's ideal of marriage in the face of the ridicule of those immersed in the climate of infidelity and debauchery (and even face, in the not too distant future, imprisonment for 'hate speech' when we do so).

See here for more on Bl. Peter:

Reginaldvs Cantvar


Louise said...

Wow, fantastic! I didn't know his story. Thankyou.

and even face, in the not too distant future, imprisonment for 'hate speech' when we do so

Well, if the death penalty is brought back, we'll probably get more than imprisonment.

Well, God's will be done.

Cardinal Pole said...

For reasons that I mentioned in that earlier post, I doubt that the secularists will bring back the death penalty.

But it is not too far-fetched to expect imprisonment and fines for speaking out against re-configurations (to put it politely) of marriage at some point in the near future.