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Carlos Manuel Rodriguez: 1918-1963: Religious Educator Biography

Deeply Committed To Spirituality And Learning, Inspired Many In Life And Death, Beatified By Pope John Paul Ii

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez: 1918-1963: Religious educator.

When he was beatified and thus placed on the road to sainthood by Pope John Paul II in 2001, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez became the first Caribbean-born—and only the second Latin American—lay individual (not a priest or a member of a religious order) to achieve that rank in the hierarchy of Catholic historical figures. Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican religious educator and writer active in the middle of the twentieth century, left a deep imprint on the island's dominant Catholic religion through his teachings and his exemplary life. Forty years after his death, as he approached beatification, Rodriguez became a focus of Puerto Rican protests against the United States Navy's use of the island of Vieques as a practice bombing range.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago, known as Chali or Charlie, was born in the town of Caguas, Puerto Rico, on November 22, 1918. Now a suburb of San Juan, Caguas was then a small town whose residents were mostly poor. The Rodriguez family's house burned down when Rodriguez was six, and he and his four siblings had to move in with a grandmother. The religious impulse ran strong in the family. Rodriguez's brother became a priest in the Benedictine order and its first Puerto Rican-born abbot, and one of his three sisters grew up to be a Carmelite nun. When Rodriguez himself was four, his mother found him lying on his back in the courtyard of the family house, looking skyward and praying to God to come and get him.

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