Honduras – The Jesuits defend their Option for the Poor

 

The letter below comes from Father Ismael Moreno, a key Jesuit leader in Honduras. In all the years I have worked with Central American community groups the Catholic Church, and especially Jesuit priests, have been critical allies of the popular organisations. Thirty years ago for example, as a young activist, I protested against the murder of six Jesuit priests and their two domestic workers in San Salvador, killed by the Salvadorean army for their support for social justice.

The Jesuits continue to work today in defense of human rights, women’s struggles and freedom of expression. This is particularly so in Honduras, where the illegitimate government is responsible for the repression of organizations working for justice.  Father Moreno is director of Radio Progreso and Fundacion ERIC,  and would normally rely on support from international allies, for example from Canada.

But at present, not only does Father Moreno have to deal with threats from the Honduran government – he has also been criticized by right-wing sectors of the catholic church.   Recently he has received accusations from some sectors of the Canadian Catholic church that the work of Fundacion ERIC and Radio Progreso go against Catholic teachings.  This letter by Father Moreno responds to these accusations. In my opinion, the courageous work of the Jesuits to further social justice in Honduras deserves our support.

The generic photos that accompany the article are by Steve Lewis, and celebrate the resilience of the grassroots church in Honduras and across Central America.

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LETTER FROM FATHER ISMAEL MORENO, SOCIETY OF JESUITS 

El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras, 23 July 2019

Respected Sir and Madam,

Many thanks for your email, which, as is often the case in life in my country, does not really represent the joy of good news, and only adds to our state of uncertainty, fear, threats and lack of security.  I thank you especially for the ardour that shines through your letter for orthodox catholic doctrine, although this implies – as is often the case – an austerity and indifference to the social apostolate that we carry out in defence of human rights and the groups of most vulnerable people in our society.

  • Above all, I am worried by the finality of the warnings in your letter. I do not know exactly if this is about defending traditional fidelity to doctrine on our part, or if you are seeking to guarantee that your funds are not used for ends different to the mission of the Church.  What is very clear is that this is not a letter of solidarity with our work, nor of mercy in the face of the constant and diverse threats, including death threats, to members of our team for their defence of human rights and in particular, environmental rights cruelly threatened by transnational mining companies from Canada.

 

  • If you have read or followed our editorial line and everything related to the materials we produce, there is no coverage nor systematic monitoring of subjects related to sexual morality. You yourselves can observe this in the texts that you cite as examples, these are isolated and do not represent a specific line on these topics on the part of our team.  Your informants in our country will doubtless confirm this affirmation, if indeed they are motivated by good will because of their fidelity to the vigorous doctrine and the good of the Church, rather than by prejudices.
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Jesuit priests have been murdered for their work in Central America. In El Salvador six Jesuits were murdered by the army in 1990. Photo Steve Lewis

  • If you make an objective and unbiased reading of the texts, you yourselves can verify that some of the examples used are writings in which the topic of abortion is not covered in itself, but in relation to the political circumstances we live in in Honduras. There is no exclusive value judgment of the articles that we may publish.  We simply use them to relate to the complex political situation that we have lived in and continue to live in.  One of these, my own text, refers to abortion not as an issue in itself, but the use of the subject of abortion by political groups who are experts in using topics at opportune moments as a screen to camouflage other burning issues.  Acting on specific information that I obtained from powerful sectors, I wrote that at a point in the Honduran political situation, the topic of abortion was used to distract people from other issues and generate a barren and pointless debate.  In an editorial by our Radio, we made the same point.  Our editorial line has not directly tackled the subject of abortion nor other subjects related to sexual morality that go against the official doctrine of our Catholic Church.  Nor is this subject on our agenda.

 

  • I accept that the other articles are contrary to official Church Doctrine. This is not an official editorial line of our Radio nor of the ERIC Foundation, and I accept that our tolerance of  articles along these lines can at the very least confuse some of our readers, and I accept responsibility for this tolerance without having previously set limits, and I agree with the principle of working to redefine criteria in order to avoid restricting ourselves to tolerance of ideas  that may lead to confusion or appear to be part of our editorial line.

 

  • Having said this, I must point out that we are defenders of freedom of expression in a country in which the latter is under siege because of state meddling in the media and stigmatization of those of us who oppose public policies that are contrary to the common good and respect of human rights.
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The grassroots Catholic Church is alive and vibrant in the villages and urban slums of Central America. Photo Credit Steve Lewis

  • And I know it is bold of me to say this, in the face of your prudence in regards to life and your wish to avoid risking mistakes, but I have to say that it is not in the interests of the Church, in this day and age, for the media to restrict the circulation of ideas. I believe that the clearer we are about what we believe in, the more flexibility and tolerance will we have in the face of the different subjects that arise in a society that is increasingly diverse.  A failure to listen to others who are different to us, to abstain from debate with those who think differently, distances us from society, and we run the risk of isolation and inability to fulfil our gospel given mission of being a critical conscience of society.

 

  • Our editorial line is based on defence of life in any situation or state it may be in. We believe in the defence of life from the moment of conception, a dimension that you responsibly stress,  we complement this position  with defence of life of our youth, of the thousands of sick people without medical attention in our hospitals, their lives threatened  because a significant number of high ranking civil servants and politicians have stolen medical equipment and drugs.  We defend the lives of the communities threatened by extractive projects, in particular mining, several of which are controlled by Canadian companies.  If we are to defend the women abused by men, victims of the abuse of power, or even those who are used as cannon fodder by drugs traffickers, and who are often forced to have abortions, then we must do this firmly.   And if we were to defend the rights of women who are accused and criminally charged for having abortions, while the men who made them pregnant and exposed them to extreme vulnerability go free, we would also do this firmly.  We defend life in all its dimensions, of course, from the moment life begins in the mother’s womb.  And not only in the mother’s womb, but also, and even more firmly, once that life has emerged from the mother’s womb.

 

  • Defence of the right to life of those who have emerged from the womb often brings risks and consequences to life, situations that we members of ERIC and Radio Progreso have already experienced. Because of our defence of the life of all persons in all circumstances, we have received multiple death threats and we have relied on the solidarity of many,  including my Jesuit community in Canada, and many other social sectors.  And it is with much joy that we can testify we have received an unambiguous and generous solidarity from Development and Peace.  When I saw who your email came from, I was heartened by what I thought was an expression of solidarity of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, just at a very difficult time, precisely because we have put our means of communications and our human resources at the service of the defence of life, threated by a regime that is increasingly authoritarian and increasingly harsh against those who think differently to it.  Because of our defence of the lives of our emigrant compatriots, terribly threatened on their journey to the United States, they have accused us of encouraging massive caravans of asylum seekers and of working with other groups that promote emigration.
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The teachings of radical priests and sisters have inspired the development of women across Honduras and El Salvador. Photo Credit Steve Lewis

  • Things are this way because we work increasingly in networks with other Jesuit and church apostolic works and with civil society. And things are this way because it is our opinion that the data shows that mass migration is a phenomenon that has intensified in the last decade, as a consequence of the deterioration of human, social and economic conditions, and because of the corruption of state sectors.  For this reason, our lives are threatened, because we work not only to help the refugees and other Honduran sectors whose lives are threatened, but because we try to look for the root causes and analyse who is responsible for the situations that put our most vulnerable people at risk.  And if all we did were help the people who suffer these injustices, we would doubtless receive cordial treatment from the corrupt politicians and civil servants.  But as we defend the rights of the people whose rights are threatened, and we denounce with statistics and data those who bear the greatest degree of responsibility for these threats, our own lives have been thrown into the same situation of threat of those thousands of lives that we try to protect and defend.

 

  • We members of the work team of ERIC and Radio Progreso are frail people, all of us, without exception, come from families of Christian believers, and we earn an honest wage that will never make us rich, but we are honoured to work putting our faith into action, in the promotion of justice, human rights and peace. Because we work in communications and in harmony with the apostolic mission of the Company of Jesus, we are right in the thick of the clamouring realities of society, and we are vulnerable to making mistakes.  And we make them.  And as frail human beings, although we don’t like to admit our frailty, we confess we are sinners and we need daily conversion.

 

  • We are conscious that frailty is part of our reality and for that reason, we not only recognize that we err and that as men and women who are sinners, we ask forgiveness for our mistakes, our lack of generosity, our half-heartedness and mediocrity in giving ourselves up to our suffering people, and for our cowardice in speaking out forcefully enough, with disregard for the power and prestige of those we have to address, in the name of the poor.  We fear we may be misunderstood on our errors and frailties, because we understand that we write to you, who are frequently infallible in error and wholly satisfactory in your human, ethical and Christian practice.  However, I ask you in the name of my work team, to not limit yourselves to condemning our practices, however mistaken we may be, but we would also hope  you would indulge us with some mercy and solidarity with who we are and what we wish to do, and continue to do in defense of the poor.
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During the civil wars of the 1980’s the Church had to take sides in the conflict. To their discredit, some of the conservative church sided with oppressive armies. Photo Credit Steve Lewis

  • On consulting with my work team, we all wondered why the confidentiality you request is necessary, given that we are dealing with subjects of public debate. We prefer and demand that this debate be made public, and that others’ opinions should be heard.  Keeping confidential topics and dealings that are obviously of a public nature can lead to arbitrary decisions that go against people’s dignity.  Nothing should be secret, express in public and before society what you believe and how you evaluate us and our work.  And we will do the same, as missionaries of the Company of Jesus in the service of the Church, we  will inform all our volunteers and friends in solidarity of your suspicions about who we are and how we act and think.

 

  • If you got this far in your reading of this missive, we would like to know what moves your letter and what it is you expect from us. I say this, because although we need funds to survive in our apostolic mission, we would hope that the chill of the eternal Canadian winter that pervades your letter is not induced by a review on whether to continue or suspend funding to us.  We are a humble team and we live on solidarity, mainly from international organizations.  But we cannot allow money to decide what we do or stop doing, this must be determined by faith and conviction in our apostolic mission that we receive from the Church, through the Company of Jesus, a mission that is incarnate in the cries of the poor of our Honduran society.  If you decide to put an end to the funding that you have been providing for some years now, we are not going to rant and rave, but we will inform all our Honduran and international friends.  It will be a great pity because we need the solidarity funds, but, blessed be God, we will not fight, nor will we allow ourselves to be humiliated.  We may end up without funds to carry out our work, maybe some of us will have no pay.     But if the funds are conditional, it would be better for us to carry on weaving hope even if we stop working, but whatever we do, we want to continue doing it with faith, love and dignity.

 

  • Finally, from the North comes the solidarity of peoples, always with so much generosity and simplicity, and over these years, this has been the way with Development and Peace. But the North has also sent interference, conditionality and prejudices, and a muzzle that seeks to silence us.  We would hope to receive from you a generous presence of solidarity, which we are sure will never be like the experience of the mining companies who come with their truth of extractivism, taking away our mineral wealth and leaving us the consequences of misery and death.   There is no doubt that we will continue to hope for you to be a gentle presence of solidarity in our lives, and by extension, those of the suffering people we work with.  And we will remain grateful for your suggestions and your concerns, that not only do we accept, but we commit to address.

With my embrace and prayers,

Father Ismael Moreno, SJ  (Padre Melo.)

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The international community need to stand in solidarity with human rights defenders on the ground, as these Salvadoran women stand in solidarity with their murdered priests and lay activists.   Photo Credit Steve Lewis

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After ‘Operation Clean-up’ my Nicaraguan suburb mourns

St Pedro Church, Sutiaba, June 2018 surrounded by barricades. Credit Steve Lewis

St.Pedro Church, in June, surrounded by barricades.

Father Victor Morales was woken at 5 a.m. by the young men on the barricade outside his church. “They’re coming Father, they’re here”. What the community had been afraid of was happening now. When Fr. Morales cautiously looked into the street he saw scores of armed, hooded men flooding into the suburb.

On that day, 5th July, the Nicaraguan police, with masked and armed para-military support, attacked the suburb of Sutiaba in Leon, the ‘barrio‘ where I’ve been living for the last year.

‘Operation Clean-Up’, as the government called it, resulted in three dead among the parishioners of Fr. Morales’ San Pedro church. Since then the community has been living in fear – and nationally the pressure on the Catholic church has also increased.

Roadblock in Leon, built from paving stones, 10 June 18, credit Steve Lewis

Roadblock in Leon, early July, before the paramilitaries came. The lad is armed with a catapalt.

 

Now, a few weeks after the three deaths, local people are still cautious to tell their story. “I was frightened that day, yes of course, but not surprised”, said Fr. Morales. “Other priests and I had tried to negotiate with the authorities in the preceding days. But they didn’t listen.”

In June local people had put up barricades all over Leon, built from paving stones, as a protest against the FSLN government for the violence they have used since demonstrations begun suddenly in April. The barricades were also a self-defense mechanism, to prevent paramilitaries driving into the suburbs in pick-ups and shooting. But after a month of stalemate the state was forcibly going town by town and taking the barricades down.

“It was very violent that day” said F. Morales. “They had riot-police and paramilitaries in at least 20 pick-ups, and bulldozers. I couldn’t leave the house for a couple of hours, I felt impotent, furious and sad. But later I could walk to the health post and I learnt about the deaths.

Father Victor Morales, parish priest of San Pedro, Leon. 2 Aug 18, Credit Steve Lewis

Father Victor Morales, outside his church

“Sadly, the youngsters didn’t realize that they couldn’t win”, said Fr. Morales.” You can’t hold off heavily armed men with fireworks and catapults”.

Four blocks South of San Pedro church the remains of the barricades litter the streets, and two sad crosses mark the spot when Junior Rojas and his friend Alex Machado were killed. Down a dusty alley-way, and past a large rabbit-hutch, the family of Junior sit outside their two-room house, still seemingly in a state of shock.

“They killed my boy with a single-shot to the head”, said his mother, Aura Rojas. “He was behind the barricade, but the police had flooded the suburb. They were to the North and West – they shot him from a block away.”

Junior, 21, was a builder’s assistant, and studied at night school, in first grade of high school. “He was my support, he looked after us”, said his mother, “I have glaucoma and can’t work, so he supported me and his nine-year old neice. The government have said all sorts of lies about the men on the barricades, that they were delinquents, they sold marijuana, but its not true. Junior was a good lad, he attended mass, he studied, and played football at weekends.”

“They took his corpse and dumped it in the morgue” said Junior’s sister, Cruz Hernandez. “We went to get his body later that day. They would barely speak to us. There was no autopsy, no investigation, they gave us no paperwork. Only one doctor dared look at him that day. They warned us – go home to your family now, or something worse might happen there.”

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The family of Junior Rojas, shocked, outside their house.

Junior was killed just yards from a close friend of his, Alex Machado Vazquez (24). Three blocks to the West another young man was killed under the shade of a large Tamarindo tree. Danny Ezekiel Lopez (21) was apparently shot while on a bicycle, passing a barricade. “They shot him 8 times”, said a local barber on the corner, who didn’t want to be named, “they wanted to send a message. And that worked – after that most of the other neighbors around here took down their own barricades.

The governments ‘operation clean-up’ moved on from Leon to other towns during July, with a steady succession of unarmed young men killed by hooded paramilitaries with high-caliber weapons. Since the protests began in April at least 317 people have been killed according to the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC). Thousands of others have been injured, or imprisoned. “Around 90% of those killed have been anti-government protestors” according to the IHRC. In June and July most of these have been killed by para-militaries, who President Ortega has described as ‘voluntary police’.

Aura Marina Rojas, mother of murdered student Junior, shows his photo. Leon, 2 Aug18. Cred Steve Lewis

Aura Rojas, with a photo of son Junior. July 2018

As in Sutiaba, local priests have been called on to mediate in many of the besieged barricades. In the small town of Diriamba on 9 July, Bishop Silvio Baez and other senior clergy were attacked and lightly injured by a mob of FSLN supporters, as they tried to mediate the release of local people. In Managua on 13th July Father Raul Zamora had to take care of dozens of students who took refuge in the Church of Divine Mercy after being attacked at the UNAN University.

Nationally the Catholic Church is trying to keep alive the dialogue between government and opposition, in spite of accusations from President Ortega that the church is part of the opposition. Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes has said in weekly mass that the Church “is persecuted” but won’t give up their mediation role. Visiting Leon for the first time on 2nd August, the Papal representative in Nicaragua, Waldemar Sommertag, emphasized that “the National Dialogue is the only route to peace”.  But at the time of writing, president Ortega shows no sign of returning to the dialogue. He doesn’t need to, he is buying his own  version of peace in a different way – through the barrel of a gun, fired by a man in a mask.

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Laying flowers at the makeshift cross that marks where Junior was killed.

All photos Steve Lewis

More Nicaragua photos, follow instagram @owstonlewis

Content originally published by Catholic News Service, reproduced here with permission

Photo Gallery – Doors of Leon

Leon is an old colonial town, slightly crumbling around the edges but that’s one of  the reasons we like it. One of the delights is walking around the side-streets. On every block there are beautiful doorways to be seen:

Watching the world go by…

Pastel colours.

 Window shadows

 The biggest door in town

 Rocking chair

 Crumbling facade

 Dawn, and working

 Red hues

 Preparing for Easter

 Ready for action

 Jazz practice

 Rainy season

 Cycling to work

 Time for a chat

 My favourite…? Almost like an oil painting

Which is your favourite? And what can you learn about Leon from looking at these photos? Please write your views on the ‘Comments’ box below.

If you like these pictures please follow owstonlewis on instagram

 

A good news story: Improved health in El Salvador

img_3049Let’s start 2017 with some good news. I will introduce you to my friend Graciela. Graciela’s story shows us that life is getting better in most developing countries, that foreign aid works, and that most people in most poor countries are healthier now than they used to be. They are taking control of their lives.

From 1991 to 1994 I lived in a village in rural El Salvador with my wife Kath. Avelares was one of the villages we visited often, trying to support a primary health service in a very poor area. It’s a small community high in the hills, and in 1991 was in territory controlled by FMLN guerrillas. Local people were trying to provide a very rudimentary health and education system with young volunteers from each community. In Avelares back then, Graciela was the volunteer providing primary health services. She had just a few weeks of training and some medicines and bandages provided by the Catholic diocese and an excellent NGO named Concern America.

In November 2016 Kath and I visited the villages again and were thrilled to meet Graciela, who remarkably is still the provider of health care in Avelares and three surrounding villages. Twenty five years on she is looking a little older now – but then again so are we! She still lives in the same house and works in the same one room clinic made from mud bricks. But what has changed significantly are the health statistics. Graciela told us with great pride that no child has died in her community in the last eleven years. We were astonished.

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Graciela in her health post

In the 1990’s in El Salvador the Under Five Infant Mortality Rate was 60 deaths per 1000 live births. Today it has fallen to 16. But in rural areas deaths of children were much more common. Kath and I probably saw one child death every couple of months, when we were living and working there. There was little antenatal care, very poor nutrition, and no access to hospital, due to the war and the very poor road to the lowland areas. All babies were born at home, with no electricity, with only a local midwife to help. At a rough estimate I’d say one child in ten died before the age of five in the area around Avelares. And maternal mortality rates in the 1990’s were also very high.

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Our neighbour Adan in 1993, holds his deceased newborn twins before their funeral. They were born a month premature. Reina,the mother, gave birth at home with no professional health attendance.

Last month Graciela explained to us with pride the improvements made now by the ministry of health. ‘All children are born in hospital now’ she explained. ‘It is my job to deliver antenatal advice, and take weight and health measurements. But two weeks before the birth date the mother-to-be is taken down to the town in the lowlands, to wait in the ‘Casa Materna’, the maternity home. I learnt to my amazement that in the last dozen years only one child had been born in the village. ‘That time I couldn’t get transport in time’ she explained.

Having once been supported by the Church and NGOs, Graciela is now employed by the Ministry of Health under their Primary Health Care system. This has been a very positive move by the state, to retain the rural experience of the community health workers (CHWs). In some provinces ex-CHWs make up the majority of the paid primary health workforce. One of Graciela’s old colleagues, Dagoberto Menjivar is now a senior doctor and administrator. Yet he started as a CHW with fifteen days training on the ‘Curso basico’. A real success story.

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The room on the left-hand side is the Avelares health post. On the right-hand side is a community centre

Graciela told us that the Ministry is very demanding. She has to visit every house in her communities on a regular timetable and carry out a series of controls and vaccinations in every house. ‘Once the mother has returned to the village after giving birth, I have to visit the house every day for the first week, then once a week for a month, then once a fortnight etc. If a child were to die in my area, I would be taken before a tribunal and can be held responsible. If a child dies of a preventable early-years illness I could go to jail…”

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All babies now are born in hospital. Graciela arranges an ambulance for them two weeks ahead of their due-date.

It is not only infant and maternal deaths that have diminished rapidly in the last 25 years. In El Salvador and nearly all Latin American countries there has been steady progress in life expectancy and other health statistics. With more certainty over the health of their children, families have been taking more control over their fertility. When we lived in the region most parents had 6, 8 or even more children. We knew one neighbour who told us sadly that she had given birth to 18 children “but only five are alive today”. In 1990 nationally only half of women used family planning and in our rural area the percentage was miniscule. Today in El Salvador nearly 75% of women of a relevant age are using contraception. Graciela explains the benefits of up to six methods and can administer most of them herself.

In 1990, in our zone, I estimate local women had on average six births. Nationally in El Salvador women had an average of 3.8 births. Today the figure has fallen to just under two. This bodes well for future health of the family. Child and maternal health services under the state system are free – which encourages take-up, especially from rural areas. Donor countries in the 1990’s and 2000’s which supported El Salvador can feel proud of this progress.

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Graciela outside her health post. She provides all routine vaccinations as well as family planning and all preventative child and maternal health services.

There are still many problems in El Salvador, such as ongoing violence from youth gangs, and these problems get covered in the global media. But the country is a democracy (and the current president is a former guerrilla leader from the FMLN). Countries like the UK, and donors such as the EU and the World Bank supported Salvador to recover from the civil war and build capacity in the health service. Now El Salvador has a working and effective primary health care service, staffed by local people like Graciela and Dagoberto, who know their communities. To me that is a pleasure to hear. Behind the headlines, the health of poor people in Latin America is steadily getting better.

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The hills above Avelares. Graciela walks from village to village up these slopes. Throughout Latin America Community Health Workers provide the health service in remote rural areas.

Gallery: Easter in Leon / Semana Santa en Leon

San Benardino day, in San Francisco church

Monday before Easter

 

Easter, dusk edit

A week before Easter

Easter choir boys

Youth assembly

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Making the sawdust carpets

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Sawdust Jesus

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A Living Tableau

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Sawdust carpets attract lots of visitors

Youth in the Church

Youth still very active in the Church, unlike in the UK

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Night processions

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Procession for San Bernadino

Monday of Easter week

On the route of the procession

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Street shrine

Street shrine with band

Tableua, ancient & modern

Tableau, Ancient & Modern

Black candles for San Bernadino

Black candles for the black saint San Bernadino

Follow Steve on Instagram: @owstonlewis for more photos of Nicaragua

El Significado Que Nos Dejo Monseñor Romero

Blog por José Fidel Campos Sorto

“Yo conoci por primera vez a Mons. Romero en 1975. Yo tenía 16 años, él llegó en visita pastoral a mi pueblo Sesori en donde mi papá era el sacristán. Me dio la impresión de un Obispo piadoso; luego constaté su actitud solidaria en visitas que mi padre le hizo a Santiago de María. En 1979, en San Salvador volví a constatar esa cualidad incrementada de su persona hacia los necesitados.

Romero mural1La conversión de Mons. Romero fue un proceso gradual que para él significó ser abierto a conocer la realidad, y su sensibilidad al sufrimiento de la gente. En 1977 fue nombrado Arzobispo y tomó posesión ante la algarabía de los ricos y la desilusión de los pobres. Pero los cuerpos de seguridad del gobierno generalizaron la represión al grado que solamente poco después le asesinaron a su mejor amigo, el padre Rutilio Grande. De ahí en adelante, se fue produciendo un giro en monseñor Romero; pues ya no se trataba solo del padre Rutilio; sino de catequistas, sacerdotes, obreros, campesinos que aparecían descuartizados por los cuerpos represivos.

Los Escuadrones de la Muerte, amparados en el Ejército del gobierno, sacaban de sus casas a las víctimas en presencia de sus familiares u otros testigos que luego daban testimonio al Socorro Jurídico, institución creada por el Arzobispo para velar por los derechos humanos.

Para los diferentes sectores populares, víctimas de la despiadada represión, monseñor Romero llego a ser la única Voz de los que no la tenían. Cada misa dominical era escuchada con devoción, porque además de ser una catequesis de formación cristiana, él denunciaba los hechos represivos de ambos bandos, y especialmente de la Fuerza Armada. Para nuestro pueblo, monseñor fue un dignificador de la persona humana. Para las mayorías populares, monseñor fue el único referente calificado que daba esperanzas al pueblo desde la palabra de Dios.

Romero in villageVimos monseñor com la persona que privilegió el diálogo como salida a la crisis del país. Para nuestro pueblo, Mons. Romero fue un modelo de hombre verdaderamente libre para decir la verdad oportunamente, sin odio y con respeto. Cuanto necesitamos eso en nuestros días!. Monseñor Romero trascendió nuestras leyes jurídicas cuando afirmó que éstas deben estar al servicio de las personas y no al revés. De ahí que, ante la brutal represión desatada por las Fuerzas Armadas en contra del pueblo, Monseñor Romero les dijo:

“Yo quisiera hacer un llamamiento muy especial a los hombres del ejército…. Hermanos, son de nuestro mismo pueblo, matan a sus mismos hermanos campesinos. Ante una orden de matar que dé un hombre, debe prevalecer la ley de Dios que dice: no matar. Ningún soldado está obligado a obedecer una orden contra la Ley de Dios. Ya es tiempo de que recuperen su conciencia y obedezcan antes a su conciencia que a la orden del pecado. La Iglesia, defensora de la Ley de Dios y de la dignidad humana, no puede quedarse callada ante tanta abominación”.

romeroshotEstas fueron las palabras de monseñor Romero que tocaron las fibras de la fuerza Armada y de sus Escuadrones de la Muerte, quienes le asesinaron al siguiente día lunes, 24 de marzo de 1980.

Este hecho significó para nosotros como pueblo, una inmensa pérdida de nuestro defensor y guía espiritual. De ahí en adelante monseñor Romero ha sido considerado y venerado como un Santo. Luego de su asesinato, nos sobrevino un estado de indefensión generalizado que nos obligó a muchos a salir del país, otros nos incorporamos a la guerra, y otros a sobrevivir en medio de la misma guerra.

A 36 años de aquel magnicidio, constato que el mensaje del profeta  Oscar Romero trascendió a su espacio y a su tiempo. Hoy es un salvadoreño universal, que con su mensaje siempre nuevo sigue iluminándonos los problemas sociales que nos aquejan en El Salvador – y yo digo que en todo el mundo. Por ejemplo cuando él mismo lo dijo: “Yo denuncio, sobre todo, la absolutización de la riqueza. Este es el gran mal de El Salvador: la riqueza, la propiedad privada como un absoluto intocable y ¡hay del que toque ese alambre de alta tensión, se quema!”(1979).

Cafod posterLas palabras de Romero tienen mucha relevancia hoy. Por ejemplo, sobre el tema de migración, tan presente hoy en nuestro tiempo, Romero dijo: “Es triste tener que dejar la patria porque en la patria no hay un orden justo donde puedan encontrar trabajo”(1978).

El mensaje de Monseñor Romero me interpela, tiene aplicación actual, por eso creo que el pueblo no lo ha olvidado, y sigue estudiando sus homilías para renovar fuerzas y seguir luchando por la justicia social de nuestros pueblos.

 

Para finalizar, me uno al llamado que monseñor hizo en su momento (1977): “No teman los conservadores, sobre todo aquellos que no quisieran que se hablara de la cuestión social, de los temas espinosos, que hoy necesita el mundo. No teman que los que hablamos de estas cosas nos hayamos hecho comunistas o subversivos. No somos más que cristianos, sacándole al Evangelio las consecuencias que hoy, en esta hora, necesita la humanidad, nuestro pueblo”.

Romero-mural

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Por José Fidel Campos Sorto

Este link es una canción de Mejía Godoy sobre Monseñor Romero: