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Saints playing bench

—Good morning, have you been waiting for a while?

—Man, since 1566.

 -So much? And what were you? Informer? Swindler? Killer?


—And they still won't let him through? He must have done something bad.

 —I protected the indigenous people.

—And that is a crime?

 —Well, I've been waiting here for four and a half centuries.

 —Excuse me, but I have seen your portrait somewhere.

 —My name is Bartolo, your servant.

 -But of course! Bartolome de las Casas! The first ordained priest in the New World! Nice to meet you. His servant, José Gregorio Hernández.

 —The pleasure is mine, doctor. You don't need to introduce yourself. Everyone in this line knows him.

 —But I have only waited since 1919.

  — Yes, but in this queue of candidates for sainthood, the image sellers have us on the run. Time passes so slowly!

—Don't say that, Brother Bartholomew! You, who dedicated every moment to working for the oppressed! The first to question Emperor Charles V's dominion titles over the New World! The promoter of the bull Sublimis Deo, by Paul II, which recognizes the human nature of the Indians and declares that they can only receive faith in freedom! You, the precursor of human rights, who wrote thousands of pages against the atrocities done to the indigenous people!

 —And what was the point of writing so much? Sixty million Americans perished as a result of the Conquest.

—But the only voice that protested in this queue was yours,

  —Ah doctor, you who are a poor doctor know that your voice is not enough. I evangelized with the plow. I preached sowing corn. I prayed with the pylon. I catechized building peaceful settlements on the Eastern coast. And what did I achieve?

 —The conquerors undid with iron what you did with your hands.

—And on top of that, that story that by saving the Indians from slavery, I caused that of the Africans! As if the Protestant slavers, the Anglican Hawkins, the Dutch Calvinists of the West India Company, the gringo evangelicals, all those heretics needed permission from a friar for their savage capitalism!

—Calm down, you. Can I offer you some of this warming? The Three Wise Men just handed it to me, with their taparitas full of brandy.

—Don't try to console me, Cheo. I could have saved the indigenous people, if my forces had been the size of my intentions. But I was once a soldier, a sinful profession. I preached like someone who fights. I exhorted like the boss. In each attack I committed all my forces.

—And do you criticize San Miguel for being general in chief?

—But I lost all the battles. I have all the defects. My only merit was not giving up.

—And what does he tell me? Me, one of the first to volunteer in the army against the blockade of December 1902, when the Insolent Plant of the Foreigner desecrated the Sacred Soil of the Homeland? Me, who, because of my sins or my poor health, did not let me be a monk or priest? Me, who ended up mending bodies because they believed me inept to save souls?

 —He did not disdain to wash feet or heal the sick.

—How do you think I feel about the slander that the wise Rangel committed suicide because I denied him a scholarship? With the story that I'm vain because I look good in portraits? With the invention that the only car in Caracas killed me, when there were already a thousand or so? How can you see that they have never run out to attend to emergencies!

—He who lacks understanding despises his neighbor; but a prudent man remains silent (Proverbs, 11-12).

—If before they called me a discriminator, now they accuse me of being an egalitarian. What if José Gregorio spends time with Negro Felipe, with Guaicaipuro, with María Lionza! What if he shares with suspects of having a double ID: San Benito Ajé, Santa Bárbara Changó, San Juan Baricongo! What if he walks with the twelve African powers! What they call the usual lumpen! What is my fault that when the people feel need they think of me, and not of those bishops who ask for alms instead of giving them? I would like to see them making medical visits even after they are dead! Climbing with that briefcase the hills where the Episcopal Conference does not climb! Jumping the ravines that the Medical Federation does not jump!

— Have this boot, Cheo, and try this consecrated Andalusian wine that is wonderful.

- Yes indeed. When it came time to fight over my bones because they attract alms, like tigers giving birth, Isnotú and the General South Cemetery and the Candelaria church fought over them. But at the moment of recognizing holiness, if I have seen you I don't remember.

—Josú, Cheo, you did more than you could. How many Indians would I have saved if he had had his studies on malarial angina pectoris, on yellow fever nephritis, on bilharzia!

 -It's never enough.

 —But doctor, what do I see? Who is that saint who jumps the queue to the bullfighter and enters on the shoulders of cameramen and showbiz artists? Who knows her? What has she done? Is she not a relative of the owner of some television stations? Does the small screen make saints? She No wonder she wants to remove presidents!

—Friar Bartolomé, what am I looking at? What is that priest up to, with his combo of bank embezzlers? Is holiness bought on the stock market? No, and that a camel enters the eye of a needle first, than a rich man enters heaven?

— But Cheo! You don't use Twitter? Don't you know that the President of Venezuela announced that the Pope has just opened the doors of Heaven to you?

— What's up, Bartolo! In front of Saint Peter himself, the Episcopal Conference returned me to this queue.

—And what does it matter, Cheo? Isn't every moment in this line knowing that there are Indians to be saved or sick people to be cured hell?

—Where did we fail, Bartolo? Why don't we play the right key? Among our defects, which is the one that we are not forgiven for?

  —That of believing that man has not been made for the institution, but the institution for man.

- But that's what they call love,


— The only thing we had, and the only thing that eternity has not been able to take away from us.

—Then we are where we should be. This endless queue is neither hell nor purgatory nor limbo. Nor is it holiness. It's heaven.

—The only possible one.

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