(CNSNews.com) - Eduardo Verastegui, who plays the Catholic martyr Anacleto Gonzalez Flores in the soon to be released film For Greater Glory, says that Mexican President Plutarco Calles, whose government was responsible for Flores’s martyrdom in 1927, and President Barack Obama, who is moving forward in 2012 with a health-insurance regulation that will force Catholics in the United States to act against their faith, are both like Henry VIII, who martyred St. Thomas More in 1535 when More refused to act against his faith and take an oath affirming that Henry was the supreme authority over the church in England.
In January, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized an Obamacare regulation that will require virtually all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and artificial contraceptives, including those that cause abortions. The regulation says that health-care plans must provide these benefits without any fees or co-pay.
Because the Catholic Church teaches that sterilization, artificial contraception and abortion are morally wrong, the regulation—together with Obamacare’s mandate that all individuals must buy health insurance--will require faithful Catholics and Catholic institutions to act against their consciences and the teachings of their faith.
On Monday, 43 Catholic diocese and institutions around the country—including the archdioceses of New York and Washington, D.C. and the University of Notre Dame and Catholic University—sued the Obama administration over the regulation. The church argues that it is a clear-cut violation of the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.
“When President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are saying to Catholic business owners and Catholic institutions around the country you must buy sterilizations and abortifacients and contraceptives, are they doing the same thing as Henry VIII and President Calles?” CNSNews.com asked Verastegui in an Online With Terry Jeffrey interview. “They’re saying: You must act against your conscience?”
“I think it’s what he’s doing,” said Verastegui. “I don’t see any difference between Plutarco Elias Calles and President Obama or Henry VIII. I almost see the same pattern repeat itself.
“I mean, the question is: What is the price that you will pay for freedom?” said Verastegui. “What price will you pay to defend your faith? And I hope that if one day I’m facing a situation like what Anacleto Gonzalez Flores faced, or Santo Tomás Moro, and all these martyrs, I hope and I pray that I will act the same way how they acted--with charity but at the same time with strength and with courage to fight for the truth, even to the point that it is necessary to give your blood and to give your life, that I can say yes. Because that’s the only way how we’re going to win this battle, is only if people are willing to give their lives to defend truth.”
In addition to Verastegui, the cast of For Greater Glory, includes Andy Garcia, Peter O’Toole and Eva Longoria. The movie is set to be released on June 1.
It tells the real-life story of the Cristeros, a group of unlikely and reluctant rebels, who resisted the Mexican government of President Calles when it persecuted Catholics in the 1920s. In 2005, Benedict XVI beatified Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, whom Verastegui plays in the movie. Flores, who was a lawyer, initially advocated passive resistance against the Mexican government's persecution of the church.
“He was greatly involved in social and religious activities and was an enthusiastic member of the Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM),” the Vatican website says of the Blessed Anacleto. “He taught classes in catechism, was dedicated to works of charity and wrote articles and books with a Christian spirit. In 1922 he married María Concepción Guerrero and they had two children.
“By 1926,” says the Vatican, “the situation in Mexico had worsened and Anacleto, who up until this time had advocated passive, non-violent resistance, joined the cause of the National League for the Defence of Religious Freedom upon learning of the murder of four members of the ACJM.”
Blessed Anacleto was tortured then shot on April 1, 1927. “He refused, however, to supply his captors with any information,” says the Vatican.
For Greater Glory was independently made and will be independently distributed. It was directed by special effects expert Dean Wright, who worked on Titanic and The Lord of the Rings. The score was composed by James Horner, who won Academy Awards for his score for Titanic and for the song, “My Heart Will Go On,” which he co-wrote with Will Jennings.
Verastegui, who was born and raised in Mexico, stresses his love for the United States of America.
When asked if he sees a parallel between what happened in Mexico in the 1920s and what is happening the United States now, he said: “Actually, I think it’s the same thing.
“Different time, but I think we don’t learn, we don’t learn,” said Verastegui. “History should be for learning from the mistakes that we committed in the past so we don’t do them in the present, so we can save ourselves from these horrible consequences.
“It seems like we don’t learn because ten years later, what happened in Mexico happened in Spain, in the civil war, and then in Cuba and then many other countries and now here again,” said Verastegui.
“I have a lot of internal conflicts because I’m from Mexico but at the same time I’m very grateful to this nation that opened the door to my dreams,” he said. “And this nation has been such an amazing blessing in my life. God bless America. It has changed my life. I changed my life here through a series of events and I love this country.”
Verastegui started his career as a singer in Kairo then became a solo vocalist. He also starred in five Spanish language television series. In 2005, he starred in the movie Meet Me in Miami, and in 2006 in Bella.
Here is the entire CNSNews.com interview with Eduardo Verastegui: