One year has passed since the world was shocked by the news of the murders at the Central American University. Many thousands of people in El Salvador, as guiltless as the six Jesuits and their two helpers, have been just as mercilessly killed over the past decade. But these deaths touched a special chord.
They had names; they had positions of responsibility; and some of them were well known far beyond the limits of Central America. More, they were ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, each in a different way, but all truly faithful witnesses to the Church's unchanging mission of teaching, of building community, of serving the other.
In a sense they stand for--because they personify and personalize--all those other martyrs and victims whose faces are known to God but are invisible to us. The known names, the now familiar faces of these six Jesuits and the two women, are powerful reminders to us of the true responsibility we all share finally to end this killing.
As rich and productive as were their lives, it is in the selfless laying down of those lives for others that they leave their greatest legacy. The new resolve recently expressed within the US Congress to use its influence to press strongly for the negotiated settlement that alone will end the conflict is a palpable sign of that legacy. We pray it will continue to bear fruit until the victory of peace, justice and reconciliation is finally achieved.
Nine months ago in their eloquent collective pastoral letter, Let Us Build the Peace in Christ, the Bishops of Central America and Panama issued a compelling call to all parties to the conflicts in that sadly divided region to end the hatred and the killing and to start constructing the peace that all long for. Among the parties to the conflict are included those who from abroad continue sending the instruments of death; what we need, the bishops say, is not more weaponry but the means to advance the region's development.
In union with our brother bishops, we make our own their impassioned cry: from the innermost recesses of our hearts and with the greatest pastoral force possible, we cry out: Now, no further violence! Now, no more fratricidal conflict! Now, no more violent deaths, no more murders!
May the life and sacrificial death of the six Jesuit fathers, of their housekeeper and her daughter, of the four US missionary women, of Archbishop Romero and all the martyrs of Central America hasten the building of God's reign of justice, love and peace.