Archive for the ‘Howard Zinn’ Tag

Feast of the Martyrs of El Mozote (December 11)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of El Salvador

Image in the Public Domain

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MARTYRED IN EL MOZOTE, EL SALVADOR, DECEMBER 11 AND 12, 1981

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They did not die.  They are with us, with you, and with all humanity.

–English translation of the inscription on the memorial, El Mozote, El Salvador; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 541

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The El Salvadoran Civil War started after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero on March 24, 1980, and lasted until 1992.  The U.S. Government supported the repressive El Salvadoran government, which had ordered the murder of Romero, among many others.  The  number of dead civilians during the civil war was about 75,000.  Many Roman Catholic priests, lay people, and religious who advocated for the poor and oppressed were among the targets of official repression; they were allegedly communists.   They were actually following Christian morality.

There were also Protestants in El Salvador.  Many of them became targets of official repression, also.  Some of them lived in the village of El Mozote, about half of which was Protestant.  Many of these Protestants, living in the guerrilla-dominated province of Morazán, vainly attempted to be neutral.  Soon they learned horribly that, as Howard Zinn said,

You can’t be neutral on a moving train.

The population of the village increased because of the influx of refugees.  In December 1981, at the time of the massacre, about 1000 people lived in El Mozote.

Atlacati Batallion, created at the infamous School of the Americas, Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia, U.S.A., was conducting the ironically named Operation Rescue.  They were searching for guerrillas whom they suspected of hiding in El Mozote.  The questioning of villagers on December 10 yielded no information, for no guerrillas were present.  During two days (December 11 and 12), the soldiers brutally murdered all but one inhabitant.  They raped, decapitated, dismembered, et cetera.

The sole survivor was Rufina Amaya (1943-March 6, 2007), who watched as her family died terribly.  She also overheard soldiers discussing the faith of their victims.  Soldiers raped and shot one young girl repeatedly.  She sang until soldiers hacked her neck with machetes.

The massacre at El Mozote was the worst and largest massacre in modern Latin American history.  Rufina told her story.  Many journalists investigated and reported it.  The Reagan Administration and many conservative allies in the private sector downplayed the massacre, criticized the guerrillas instead, and sought to discredit journalists who reported the events of the massacre.

Rufina lived in Honduras from 1985 to 1990 then returned to El Salvador.  She never returned to live in El Mozote, however.  The village, abandoned for years, eventually became an active community again.  Rufina, who became a Roman Catholic lay minister, died on March 6, 2007.  Forensic evidence confirmed her reports, despite what the Reagan Administration, et cetera, claimed.

The blood of the martyrs cries out from the earth and belies the claims of those who defended the government of El Salvador.

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God of the martyrs, the oppressed, the poor, and the downtrodden,

we respond with justifiable moral outrage at accounts of massacres,

such as the one at El Mozote, El Salvador, in 1981.

We also recoil in disgust at the indifference of the United States Government

to that atrocity and to federal support for that brutal regime.

May we translate our anger and disgust into positive action,

demanding that our governments live up to the highest ideals of moral conduct at home and abroad.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jeremiah 17:14-18

Psalm 10

Revelation 6:9-11

Matthew 2:13-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WASHINGTON GLADDEN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF FERDINAND QUINCY BLANCHARD, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY MONTAGU BUTLER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JACQUES FERMIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

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Feast of Max Josef Metzger (April 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Max Josef Metzger

Image in the Public Domain

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MAX JOSEF METZGER (FEBRUARY 3, 1887-APRIL 17, 1944)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

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It is honorable to die for one’s country, but still more honorable to die for righteousness and peace.

–Max Josef Metzger

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Father Metzger comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997).

Max Josef Metzter, born in the German village of Schopfheim on February 3, 1887, discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  He, ordained the priesthood in 1911, served as an army chaplain in 1914-1915, leaving military service during World War I due to ill health.  The lasting effect of the Great War upon our saint was to transform him into a pacifist.  He devoted the rest of his life to the cause of peace and disarmament, among other causes.  He worked with the White Cross, a mission to the downtrodden.  Our saint also founded the World Peace League as well as the World Congress of Christ, an ecumenical peace movement.  He was also a pioneering ecumenist, for he promoted Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue and reconciliation.

Metzger opposed Nazism from the beginning.  The Gestapo asserted him several times, the final time being in June 1943.  His specific offense was to write foreign bishops to ask them to help secure a negotiated settlement of the war.  The courier, unfortunately, was an agent of the Gestapo.  Metzger, convicted of treason, went to his fate (martyrdom via beheading) on April 17, 1944.  His final spoken prayer was

Now, Lord Jesus, I come.

Our saint was 57 years old.

The example of Father Metzger raises some challenging issues.  As Voltaire reminds us down the corridors of time,

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

Likewise, to quote The Use of Force in International Affairs (1961),

If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

I rank Metzger among the German patriots.  Patriotism does not necessarily entail supporting the government or the administration.  This is especially true when the government is a genocidal dictatorship.

To praise those who resisted the Third Reich is easy in North America in 2017.  After all, finding someone, regardless of political affiliation, who looks upon Nazi Germany with moral revulsion is a simple task.  More challenging is to ask how one, if one had been in Nazi jurisdiction at the time, would have acted.  One might hope that one would have had the moral courage to resist the Third Reich, but one might be inaccurate.  How easy is it after all, to go along and get along, to keep one’s head down and be passive?  Yet, as the late Howard Zinn reminded us, one cannot be neutral on a moving train.

Father Metzger took a moral stand and paid the ultimate price.  His conscience did not permit him to attempt to be neutral on a moving train.  Many of us are so fortunate as not to have to take such risks.  Others, however, must, due to their circumstances, make such decisions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

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Holy and righteous God, you created is in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Max Josef Metzger,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ,

our Saviour 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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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