WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are joining their country’s lawmakers in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits in El Salvador.
On this date 20 years ago, the six priests, their housekeeper and her daughter were killed in “a vicious and cold-blooded slaughter,” as it was described in a congressional hearing the day after the tragedy.
Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. bishops’ conference affirmed that the prelates are commemorating this day along with the members of congress.
He sent letters to the lawmakers who sponsored resolutions in the senate and in the house of representatives calling for the commemoration of this tragedy and paying tribute to the lives of these priests.
“By passing this resolution by unanimous consent,” the bishop wrote to the senators, congress has “recognized the important education work of Catholic religious communities and institutions like the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas in El Salvador as well as the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States.”
“As you know,” he stated to the representatives, “the Catholic Church carries on the work of education with the goal of forming leaders that have great concern for the social and moral needs of the people.”
The prelate quoted Benedict XVI’s words in “Caritas in Veritate:” “Charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. […]
“[Charity] gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbor; it is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family members or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones).”
This kind of charity, the prelate continued, “was exemplified by the Jesuits in El Salvador.”
They showed “a commitment to a more just and peaceful society where the human needs and rights are acknowledged and respected,” he said.
Bishop Hubbard noted the senate resolution’s acknowledgment of the continued inspiration to be found “in the lives and work of the Jesuit martyrs.”
He underlined the house resolution’s statement about the “legacy of the murdered Jesuits to reduce poverty and hunger and promote education opportunity, human rights, the rule of law, and social equity for the people of El Salvador.”
The bishop added, “Their legacy continues to be embodied in the many women and men who still seek a more just, peaceful and secure world where the life and dignity of all persons is defended.”
He affirmed, “The martyred Jesuits sought the common good, as many other Church members continue to do today” as a “requirement of justice and charity.”
The bishops’ conference “joins you in commemorating the lives and work of the six Jesuits and their collaborators,” the letter affirmed.
It also lauded the senate resolution’s call for “the president, the secretary of state, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and other federal departments and agencies to support and collaborate with the government of El Salvador and other public, private nongovernmental, and religious organizations in efforts to reduce poverty and hunger and promote education opportunity, human rights, the rule of law, and social equity for the people of El Salvador.”
“This call is especially important,” Bishop Hubbard concluded, “at this time when the people of El Salvador are striving to strengthen respect for human rights and the rule of law.”
He affirmed the Church’s commitment to continue “to seek ways to build the common good, not only in El Salvador but throughout our world.”
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On the Net:
Full text of letters: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/elsalvador.shtml