(para leer en español, dele clíc aquí)
This past Sunday, November 10, the Christian Base Communities (CEBs) of El Salvador came together again in front of the national cathedral downtown to continue denouncing the closure of Tutela Legal and cry out for security of the institution’s archives, which document human rights abuses since the time of the war and are the key to justice for the victims of these crimes. The communities organized a Celebration of the Word in front of the Cathedral during the Archbishop’s Sunday Mass, to call attention to the spirit and prophetic voice of the People of God, which is not being heard within the institutional church. There was representation at the activity from the active regional networks of CEBs in the country, including from the “P.Octavio Ortiz” network in Cacaopera and the communities of Segundo Montes in Meanguera, Morazán, from the communities of the Bajo Lempa in Usulutan, from La Libertad, and, of course, from San Salvador.
In the introduction to the letter from the CEBs to our brother bishops, they say, “We understand that the “unity” of the bishop’s conference is of supreme value to you; nevertheless, as part of the Church (People of God, as the Second Vatican Council says), we consider that the truth and the pain of the victims are more important. We remember that, besides Monseñor Rivera, the bishops of the time left Monseñor Romero stand alone as the voice for those without a voice.” The rest of the letter notes the coldness with which the bishops have so far responded to the people’s indignation and the lack of open ears that have been found within the church hierarchy towards the victims and the ex-employees of Tutela Legal. Ultimately, the letter calls for the bishops of El Salvador to help Archbishop Escobar Alas recognize the error of the way he has handled the closure of Tutela Legal and to return the documents to the service of the victims of the human rights violations that they document.
Additionally, a press release published in Sunday’s paper lists the observations of the communities:
- “We denounce that the Archbishop has not spoken the whole truth… [and] that there were lies when it was informed that the District Attorney’s office had not touched or taken any document from the archives because on October 30, the District Attorney’s office reported that it had returned the documents it had confiscated for investigation….
- “We condemn the way the archbishop has acted over the closing of this office: like thieves in the dark of the night, they changed the locks and prepared the fired employees’ paperwork.We condemn this authoritarian, arbitrary, and impulsive way of acting, without any dialogue…
- “In no way do we share the position that the Church is “the private owner” of the Tutela Legal archives… [Rather, the Church is] responsible for putting the archives at the service of the people who have given their testimony.
- “We remember that it has been said, “Christian, you are the Church,” and that the Second Vatican Council describes, in first place, the Church as People of God before the hierarchy (Chapter 2 of Constitution Lumen Gentium). The conflict generated by the Archbishop makes us see that the pastors have abandoned their flock. But as the People of God, the Christian Base Communities, guided by the Holy Spirit, follow our loyal shepherd, Monseñor Romero. We are the People of God, the remnant that tries to ferment unity among a divided people. We are not ashamed to be the Church of the poor. We trust in the God of the poor, and we are committed to the path of Jesus and his project of the Reign of God.”
Below, we share some photos from the event. Among the reading and celebration of the Word of God, there were posters, signs, photos, songs, reflections, and many other images and symbols denouncing death in all of its subtle and blatant manifestations and celebrating LIFE. In the midst of the frustrating and disempowering exercise of hegemonic authority, the Church of the poor continues to be a people of resistance, of hope, and of struggle.