Championing the Cause of the Hungry Can Exact an Ultimate Price

Chris Herlinger | November 20, 2014

The 25th anniversary of a massacre in El Salvador is reason to reflect on Issues of land, food and justice. Such concerns have long been at the center of life in Latin America, including Argentina and Bolivia, as well as El Salvador. Gregorio Galarza displays potatoes he has harvested from his garden in the Guarani indigenous village of Kapiguasuti, Bolivia. He and his neighbors started the gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Photo: Paul Jeffrey / CWS

The 25th anniversary of a massacre in El Salvador is reason to reflect on Issues of land, food and justice. Such concerns have long been at the center of life in Latin America, including Argentina and Bolivia, as well as El Salvador. Gregorio Galarza displays potatoes he has harvested from his garden in the Guarani indigenous village of Kapiguasuti, Bolivia. He and his neighbors started the gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Photo: Paul Jeffrey / CWS

This week the world commemorates the killings, 25 years ago, of six Jesuit priests (five of them from Spain), the clerics’ housekeeper and her teen-age daughter. All were killed on the grounds of Central American University, a Jesuit institution in the capital of San Salvador.

For many of us who remember, this and other tragedies during the 1980s wars in Central America were defining events. They colored how we saw (and still see) issues of poverty and hunger, military intervention and non-intervention, and the role of theology and faith communities in public life.

El Salvador was the fulcrum of the era. During its 12-year civil war, as many as 75,000 civilians were killed. What was particularly notable about El Salvador was the extent and depth of violence and the way in which clergy and members of religious orders became targets of death squads. In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero and three U.S. nuns and a lay missioner were among those killed. Other religious from El Salvador also lost their lives.

(To read the rest of the blog, which appeared this week in the Huffington Post, see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-herlinger/as-el-salvador-proves-cha_b_6186326.html)

Chris Herlinger is CWS’s Senior Writer.


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