The 25th anniversary of “the martyrdoms” of four U.S. missionaries in El Salvador offers an opportunity for rededication to the cause of peace and justice in the Americas, said the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ International Policy Committee today.
“Twenty-five years ago, many throughout the world were shocked by the news of the abduction, rape and murder on December 2, 1980, of four American missionary women in El Salvador,” said Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando.
These were all “young, dynamic, deeply committed missionaries” who “saw the face of Christ in the poorest and most vulnerable of the people of El Salvador and sought to offer what aid and consolation they could provide. In the poisonous political atmosphere of the time, their concern for ‘the least of these’ was seen by some as a challenge to an unjust status quo.”
Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan were killed at a time when the civil war in El Salvador was intensifying. Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was assassinated earlier that year, March 24, while celebrating mass. Nine years later, six Jesuit priests were also killed.
“May we rededicate ourselves, together with the bishops and faithful of El Salvador and all of Central America, to the task of peace, justice and reconciliation throughout the Americas for which these exemplary women gave their lives,” said Bishop Wenski.