Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First International Congress on Ignacio Ellacuría

This week the First International Congress on Ignacio Ellacuría is taking place in Mexico. The Congress is organized by the Fundación Ética Mundial, the Embassy of Spain in Mexico and the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana (which, by the way, as its name suggests, boasts a major archival collection and research center on Sor Juana de la Cruz). Participants include Jon Sobrino, Rodolfo Cardenal, Héctor Samour, Sergio Bran (El Salvador); Alejandro Rosillo, Juan José Tamayo (Spain); Enrique Dussel, Miguel Concha and Gerardo Martínez Cristerna (Mexico). The program focuses almost exclusively on Ellacuría's work. It is another in this year's events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Fr. Ellacuría, his five fellow Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter at the UCA in San Salvador.

Juan José Tamayo, director of the Cátedra de Teología y Ciencias de las Religiones "Ignacio Ellacuría", at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, paid tribute to Ellacuría in the opening ceremony on Monday evening: "He was one of the main promoters of liberation theology in Latin America, whose work, in broad strokes, turned around the defense of the popular masses and the oppressed peoples," he said.

EFE interviewed one of the participants, Jon Sobrino, SJ, who survived the massacre only because he was out of the country when it occured. Here is an English translation:

Mexico - Aug. 25 -- The Basque theologian Jon Sobrino said today in Mexico that the world continues to be full of "crucified people", as the Spanish Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuría also used to say, and he called for a revival of the ideas of his colleague, who was assassinated in El Salvador in 1989.

In an interview with EFE hours before participating in the 1st International Congress
on Ignacio Ellacuría in Mexico, Sobrino, who was born in Bilbao (northern Spain) in 1938, remembered that his friend and rector of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador touched on "the important problems of humanity" twenty years ago.

Those problems, in Sobrino's opinion, "haven't changed."

For Ellacuría, talking about the "crucified people" meant the majority of people on the planet whose lives are at risk daily because of the marginal conditions in which they live, the Spanish theologian recalled.

The great dream of his life was "to not abandon a crucified people and help take them down from the Cross."

Sobrino believes it is important now to revive the ideas of Ellacuría, an intellectual who centered his work on morality, Christian theology, and defending those who have the least.

Ellacuría also got politically involved during the civil war in El Salvador (1980-1992), where he carried out about four hundred negotiations for peace in the country, and interviewed more than once with the leaders of the guerrilla group, Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN).

The priest was threatened with death on many occasions until he was assassinated in San Salvador on November 16th, 1989, together with five Spanish Jesuits and a Salvadoran one, as well as two women, by uniformed men, according to witnesses.

Sobrino remembers today how Ellacuría thought the so-called "civilization of wealth" was an error, that in which the engine of history is believed to be the accumulation of capitol, and the meaning of life, enjoying it.

Instead, he proposed the "civilization of poverty", that in which work is the essential element and the meaning of life is achieved through solidarity.

Sobrino, one of the leading exponents of liberation theology and based in El Salvador, also referred to the current crisis of the largest world economies and stated that its development is a "tragic-comic" occurence.

The tragedy of the situation is that those who had the least now have less means to survive because the situation has "impoverished the poorest", he stated.

It is comic, he said, that the international system has invested a large amount of resources in recent months for the bailout, with which "the hunger of humanity would have disappeared, I don't know, for ten, twenty or thirty years," he added.

Finally, he acknowledged that in some of the developed countries solidarity with those in the Third World has increased, but he thinks that those gestures are still "minimal and marginal", and do not translate into real help that improves the lives of those who have less.

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