Remembering the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador

Icon of the Martyrs of El Salvador

Icon of the Martyrs of El Salvador

The Society of Jesus throughout the world is remembering the six Jesuit priests who were killed 20 years ago today in El Salvador, along with their housekeeper and her daughter.  On 16 November 1989, a military death squad besieged the campus of the Jesuit-run University of Central America in San Salvador, and murdered Fathers Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin Baro, Juan Ramon Moreno, Amando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez and Ignacio Ellacuria, as well as  their housekeeper Elba  Ramos and her 16 year old daughter Celina.

The British Jesuit Provincial, Fr Michael Holman SJ, says the only reason for their murders was because they were bearing witness to the Gospel: 'It is evident that the killings were entirely motivated by the desire of the ruling elite to be rid of these men who powerfully and unequivocally demonstrated their commitment to Christ and his Church, by working for some of the poorest and most oppressed people in their country.  We can be grateful that their deaths still inspire many people to live the Gospel, no matter what the cost.'

Fr Michael Campbell-Johnston SJ is one of three Jesuits of the British Province who are attending the commemorative ceremonies in San Salvador today.  He was Provincial at the time of the murders and has a long association with Central America. 'All of them (the priests) aimed to give a voice to the voiceless, and many attempts were made over the years to silence them, including bombing the university printing press,' he wrote in this weekend's Tablet. 'Their can be no doubt that their martyrdom opened the eyes of the authorities, including the American Embassy, and contributed more than any other event to the peace treaty which put an end to the 10-year-long brutal civil war that had cost the lives of more then 70,000 people, mostly civilians, women, children and the aged.'

As a sign of public atonement for past actions, the President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, has awarded the country's highest award - the National Order of José Matias Delgado - to the six Jesuits.

To listen to an interview on Vatican radio with Fr Dean Brackley SJ, who chose to go to El Salvador just a few days after their murders to continue their work click on:

Source: Jesuit Communications

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