Archive for the ‘Helder Camara’ Tag

Feast of Ignacio Ellacuria and His Companions (November 16)   5 comments

Above:  The Flag of El Salvador

Image in the Public Domain

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FATHER IGNACIO ELLACURÍA (NOVEMBER 9, 1930-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER IGANCIO MARTÍN-BARÓ (NOVEMBER 7, 1942-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER JUAN RAMON MORENO PARDO (AUGUST 29, 1933-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER AMANDO LÓPEZ QUINTANA (1936-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER SEGUNDO MONTES MOZO (MAY 13, 1933-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

FATHER JOAQUIN LÓPEZ Y LÓPEZ (AUGUST 16, 1918-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

JULIA ELBA RAMOS (DIED NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

CELINA MARICET RAMOS (1973-NOVEMBER 16, 1989)

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ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR, NOVEMBER 16, 1989

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This is my country and these are my people….The people need to have the church stay with them in these terrible times–the rich as well as the poor.  The rich need to hear from us, just as do the poor.  God’s grace does not leave, so neither can we.

–Father Segundo Montes Mozo, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 500

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These saints come to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1989).  Perhaps Holy Mother Church will formally recognize these martyrs eventually, but I do so today.

In this post I choose to focus on making a few comments and to leave the biographies to a source that provides ample information.  Follow this link for that invaluable information, O reader.

During the El Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992), the U.S.-supported government of El Salvador, as a policy, murdered 75,000 civilians.  The list of martyrs of El Salvador is, of course, lengthy, including Father Rutilio Grande Garcia (1928-1977) and Archbishop Óscar Romero (1917-1980), who died before the civil war, and these eight martyrs, from late in that conflict.  The U.S. government supported that violent government in the context of the Cold War, for the El Salvadoran regime was fighting communist rebels.  However, far-right wing elements within the El Salvadoran military defined “communist” to mean anyone to their left who criticized them.

Six Jesuit priests, living on the campus of the (Jesuit) José Simeon Cañas Central American University, San Salvador, El Salvador, had made themselves thorns in the side of the government, with its policy of murdering civilians.  The priests’ faith required that they speak out against such violence.  In the early hours of November 16, 1989, military personnel murdered the six priests, their housekeeper (Elba Ramos), and her 16-year-old daughter (Celina Ramos).  Ironically, the Ramoses had sought safety from bombings and from violence in the streets; they had hoped to find security with the priests.

These murders backfired on the El Salvadoran government, which initially blamed communist rebels.  International disgust and pressure, including from the U.S. government, led to the negotiated end of the civil war in 1992.

These priests lived their faith.  They lived the incarnation during a civil war.  Their faith led them to martyrdom.  They could have said (and probably did) with Archbishop Helder Camara (1909-1999),

When I feed the poor, they call me saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.

These Jesuit priests and the Ramoses stood in line with Hebrew prophets, Jesus, two millennia of martyrs, Father Grande, Archbishop Romero, Archbishop Camara, and radical Australian Baptist minister Athol Hill (1937-1992).  All of the above stood with God on the side of justice.

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Loving God, why do the just and innocent suffer?

We read and hear ancient theological answers to that question.

Regardless of the truth of any of those answers, they fail to satisfy.

Hasten the age of your justice, we pray, so that

the meek will inherit the earth,

we will beat our swords into plowshares and learn war no more,

artificial scarcity will cease, and

nobody else will have to suffer or die for the love of one’s neighbors.

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.  Amen.

Joel 3:9-16

Psalm 70

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACHARY OF ROME, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JAN ADALBERT BALICKI AND LADISLAUS FINDYSZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN POLAND

THE FEAST OF OZORA STEARNS DAVIS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VETHAPPAN SOLOMON, APOSTLE TO THE NICOBAR ISLANDS

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This is post #1700 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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https://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/proper-for-christian-martyrs/

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/proper-for-christian-martyrs/

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Feast of St. Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador (March 24)   6 comments

assassination_of_oscar_romero

Above:  The Scene Immediately After the Assassination of Archbishop Romero

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT OSCAR ROMERO ARNULFO Y GALDEMEZ (AUGUST 15, 1917-MARCH 24, 1980)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador

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I have frequently been threatened with death.  I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death but in the resurrection.  If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.

Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned.  But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life then may my blood be the seed of liberty, and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality….A bishop will die, but the church of God–the people–will never die.

–Archbishop Romero, quoted in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 133

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This feast exists in various denominations.  From Roman Catholic websites I know of the beatification of Romero on May 23, 2015, and of the fact of decades of official suspicion that he was a Marxist.  And, based on my library, I know the following statements to be accurate:

  1. The Episcopal Church observes the feast of “Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, 1980,  and the Martyrs of El Salvador.”
  2. The Church of England keeps the feast of “Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980.”
  3. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada observe the feast of “Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Bishop of El Salvador, 1980.”

Furthermore, Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1979), places Romero’s feast on March 24, the same date of the saint’s feast on the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Church of England calendars.

Addendum (09/09/2018):  Pope Francis will canonize Romero on October 14, 2018.

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Archbishop Oscar Romero became a martyr for challenging the repressive government of El Salvador which had death squads that targeted civilians.  The U.S. Government, for reasons of Cold War politics, provided military aid to this regime during the Carter and Reagan Administrations.  The Cold War provided cover for a multitude of murders, apparently.

Romero, born at Ciudad Barrios, San Miguel, El Salvador, on August 15, 1917, became an apprentice to a carpenter at the age of 13 years.  The following year our saint discerned a vocation to the priesthood; he began to prepare for it.  Romero studied in El Salvador at in Rome.  Our saint, ordained a priest on April 4, 1942, became a parish priest in his homeland.  He also served as the diocesan secretary at San Miguel.

The episcopate summoned.  On April 25, 1970, Romero became the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador.  He left that post on October 15, 1974, to become the Bishop of Santiago de Maria.  There he began to liberalize.  Romero had been suspicious of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and of the call (from 1968) of Archbishop Helder Camara for the Church to advocate for social justice for the poor and the oppressed, not to identify with those who oppress them.  Despite Romero’s gradual shift to the left (in progress), he remained relatively conservative when he became the Archbishop of San Salvador on February 3, 1977.

Romero’s move to the left accelerated soon after he became archbishop.  On March 12, 1977, government gunmen assassinated Father Rutilio Grande, a priest committed to social justice for campesinos.  The following Sunday the archbishop suspended Masses in the capital city and demanded the punishment of the guilty.  Romero became a vocal opponent of the regime, which killed civilians as a matter of policy; he was the “Voice of the Voiceless.”  The junta that seized power in 1979 did not cease the repression.  Early in 1980 our saint wrote President Jimmy Carter and requested that the U.S. Government halt military aid to the government of El Salvador.  This did not endear the archbishop to the Salvadoran regime, of course.

On Sunday, March 23, 1980, in a homily, Romero effectively signed his death warrant.  He said in part:

I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the Police, and the garrisons.  Brothers, you belong to our own people.  You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God should prevail that says:  Do not kill!  No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God.  No one has to comply with an immoral law.  It is time ow that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin.  The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of the dignity of the human person, cannot remain silent before so much abomination.

We want the government to seriously consider that reforms mean nothing when they come bathed in so much blood.  Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of the longsuffering people, whose laments rise to heaven everyday more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God:  stop the repression!

–Translated by Nena Terrell and Sally Hanlon; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses (2005), pages 278-279

The following day, Monday, March 24, 1980, Romero preached his final homily at a hospital chapel in San Salvador.  He said in part:

“God’s reign is already present on earth in mystery.  When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection.”

That is the hope that inspires Christians.  We know that every effort to better society, especially when so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.

–Translated by James R. Brockman, S.J. and quoted in The Violence of Love:  The Pastoral Wisdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero (San Francisco, CA:  Harper & Row, 1988), page 242

A government gunman assassinated Romero after the completed that homily.

Civil War began later that year and continued until 1992.  The government of El Salvador (the one receiving military aid from the United States Government) killed more than 75,000 civilians as a matter of policy.  Among those murdered by death squads were Roman Catholic priests, members of Roman Catholic orders, and lay people associated with them.

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Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,

If thou wouldst my disciple be;

Deny thyself, the world forsake,

And humbly follow after me.

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Take up thy cross; let not its weight

Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;

My strength shall bear thy spirit up,

And brace thine heart and nerve thine arm.

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Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,

Nor let thy foolish heart rebel;

The Lord for thee the cross endured,

To save thy soul from death and hell.

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Take up thy cross then in his strength;

And calmly every danger brave;

‘Twill guide thee to a better home,

And lead to victory o’er the grave.

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Take up thy cross and follow him,

Nor think till death to lay it down;

For only he who bears the cross

May hope to wear the glorious crown.

Charles William Everest (1814-1877), 1833, altered

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Oscar Romero took up his cross and followed Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIUS THE CENTURION, WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION

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Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor,

and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope:

Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador,

we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life,

even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,

be praise and glory now and for ever.  Amen.

–Isaiah 2:5-7

Psalm 31:15-24

Revelation 7:13-17

John 12:23-32

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 287

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Feast of Helder Camara (February 7)   3 comments

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Above:  The Grave of Archbishop Camara

Image Source = Monster4711

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HELDER PESSOA CAMARA (FEBRUARY 7, 1909-AUGUST 27, 1999)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife

The “Red Bishop,” Advocate for the Poor, Defender of Human Rights, and Vocal Opponent of Brazil’s Military Dictatorship

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When I feed the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.

–Helder Camara

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Helder Camara was not a Communist or even a Marxist.  No, he was a Socialist and an advocate of Liberation Theology.  He understood the reality of structural economic injustice and the demands of the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon the Church to condemn such inequality and to work for social justice, especially the poor.  This proved controversial in the Church and in Brazilian society.  It also eared him the official disapproval of Brazil’s repressive military dictatorship.

Camara, born at Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, on February 7, 1909, decided at an early age to become a priest.  He, ordained in 1931, was a member of a fascist party for a few years.  (Fascism is conservative tyranny.  Communism is liberal tyranny.  The chief word is tyranny.)  Ministering among the poor of Rio de Janeiro changed our saint’s politics, starting his shift from the right to the left.  In 1952 Camara became the Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro.  He helped to form the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops.  For a decade he, serving as the organization’s secretary-general, led the bishops to address issues of economic injustice, especially that related to the concentration of land ownership into the hands of a relative few.  Our saint also pressured his brother bishops to identify with the poor and the oppressed, not the rich and the powerful.  Camara also asked Pope John XXIII to donate the Vatican and its works of art to UNESCO and to live in a modest building instead.

From 1964 to 1985 Camara was the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, in a poor region of the country.  He refused to live in the Episcopal Palace and to wear expensive vestments and a golden cross.  Our saint, the “red bishop,” wore a scruffy cassock and a simple wooden cross, lived in a humble dwelling, and defended democracy of human rights at a time when a brutal military dictatorship governed Brazil.  He survived assassination attempts, although many people associated with him did not.  The government feared the archbishop.  From 1968 to 1977 that government blacklisted Camara, forbidding the press from reporting on him and barring him from speaking in public.

Camara, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize four times, was humble.  Once, during a meeting at the Episcopal Palace, invited a peasant to sit in the episcopal chair.  The archbishop also told Mother (now St.) Teresa of Calcutta that, when he struggled with his ego, he imagined himself as the donkey carrying Jesus during the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  Camara did, however, pull rank to embarrass the police into releasing parishioners they had arrested unjustly.

Camara, aged 75 years, retired in 1985.  Pope John Paul II appointed a conservative successor, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, who opposed Liberation Theology, ended our saint’s human rights initiatives, and wore a golden cross and expensive vestments.  Camara was diplomatic in public, but he took the situation hard in private.

Our saint died at Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, on August 27, 1999.  He was 90 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

THE FEAST OF JENNETTE THRELFALL, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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