VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like St. Oscar Romero, the six Jesuit priests and their two companions who were brutally murdered in the waning years of El Salvador’s civil war gave witness to the Gospel and remained close to the poor until their deaths, a Vatican official said.
In a letter written to mark the 29th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Jesuit priests and their companions Nov. 16, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said St. Romero’s death “impacted and inspired our fellow martyrs who we celebrate today.”
The six priests — Jesuit Fathers Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Segundo Montes, Amando Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno and Joaquin Lopez — as well as their housekeeper, Elba Ramos, and her 16-year-old daughter Celina were executed in 1989 when Salvadoran army soldiers stormed their residence at the Central American University in San Salvador.
The martyrs, who were murdered nine years after St. Romero was killed while celebrating Mass, were believed to have been targeted due to their outspoken calls for a cease-fire between government and rebel forces.
According to the 1993 report of the U.N. Truth Commission on El Salvador, the Jesuit-run Central American University, also known as UCA, was accused by government authorities of being “the center of operations” for the FMLN rebel group.
The authorities also publicly stated “that the Jesuits were fully identified with subversive movements.”
In his message to the Jesuit community of the UCA, Father Czerny recalled visiting the university on the 10th anniversary of St. Romero’s death, not long after the murder of the Jesuit priests.
“After the assassination of our companions,” he said, “I read a phrase on a poster that read: ‘We want bishops like Archbishop Romero.’ How alive and timely these words are for me today!”
Recalling Pope Francis’ homily during the recent canonization of St. Romero, Father Czerny said the slain archbishop’s closeness to the poor “with a heart magnetized by Jesus” was an example followed by the martyred Jesuits.
“Let us pray for the same ‘magnetization’ for Jesus and to be close to the poor,” he said. “Let us not forget to pray for their intercession, for our Pope Francis, for the entire Society of Jesus and for the many Central Americans fleeing their countries to go north.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: In Vietnam, nuns’ wheelchair ministry frees people to make a living
NEXT: Repatriation plan stalls as Rohingya refuse to return to Myanmar
Share this story