09/01/2012 The silent voice of peaceful people

Thirty years after Romero's death, Latin America is still a land of martyrs. They seem doomed to be defeated but what they really live is the alternative to violence and abuse of power.

di gigasweb

Fonte: Mondo e Missione

In 2010 we commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Mons. Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, killed while he was celebrating the Eucharist. Romero lived under a condition of polarized clash and violence radicalization. Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves told me that he received him during his last visit in Rome: he confided to him that he would be killed and that he did not know whether that would happen at the hand of the rightists or the leftists. He knew that his life was threatened but he did not give up on going back to his Country to be close to his people. He felt around him an atmosphere full of death. He addressed a plea: “We are unable to reconcile, we hate to death. This is not the environment God wants.  The Church must say to one side and to the other, notwithstanding the options that differentiate them: love each other, reconcile yourselves with God”.
Christians started to die again in the 20th century as they did in the first centuries of Christianity. Latin America had many martyrs. Their stories still speak today and we cannot forget them. Many Countries have had authoritarian regimes and revolutionary guerrillas, with peoples bound between conflict and misery: an unbearable situation for many Christians who have nevertheless continued to be witnesses of the Gospel. Romero died in a time of polarization, heir to the cold war. International and internal factors intertwined. In 1989 and with the end of ideologies, revolutionary war terminated, however – surprisingly enough – violence did not stop; it only “atomized”. The life of the Church contests de facto this climate with the presence of its people who live generously there.
An example is the situation in Colombia. In 2000, Isaias Duarte Cancino, archbishop of Cali was killed because he spoke out against the violence of terrorists and paramilitaries. Between 2001 and 2007 around thirty Christians were killed, either during robberies or because committed to the field of education or finally in the attempt to liberate those kidnapped. The educational work is considered dangerous by the members of the Mafia because it frees young people from the school of violence and fear. The Church is an obstacle in the way of the expansion of the mafia «culture». In Guatemala, in Mexico, between 2001 and 2007, priests and nuns fall down. During the same period, in Brazil, eight priests were killed. A strong echo is the result of one US sister’s murder, Dorothy Stang, killed in February 2005 while bravely working for the people without land. Two armed men stopped her asking: «Do you have a weapon?». Sister Dorothy, calmly, shows her Bible: «This is my only weapon!». The 73-year-old nun was found dead, her Bible beneath her.
In El Salvador, the civil war terminated in 1992 but many regions of the Country are immersed in the violence of maras, youth gangs and mafia organizations which offer a network of criminal solidarity and give the young people “dignity” through weapons. Between 2000 and 2006, two priests and a lay person were killed in the Santiago de Maria cathedral. Love is perceived as a threat to their power established on fear and violence. This is how the murder of young William Quijano of the Community of St. Egidio is to be explained. He used to propose to the teenagers of the suburban quarter of Apopa an alternative to violence. Father Jesus Delgado, former secretary of Mons. Romero, wrote: «William was involved with St. Egidio in saving children and young people from violence and creating the possibility of a life far from the logic of clash and juvenile criminality. He used to help children live together, helping each other and learning how to live in peace». It is the martyrdom of peaceful people. Their diversity sounds like a humble and silent protest. It seems to be doomed to failure but it is the real alternative to violence and oppression.

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