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BISHOPS-JESUITS Nov-16-2009 (500 words) With photos. xxxn

Bishops remember Salvadoran Jesuits on anniversary of 1989 murders

By Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops added their collective voice to those of others in honoring the memory of the six Salvadoran Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, all of whom were assassinated 20 years ago by a Salvadoran death squad.

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in a statement issued Nov. 16 -- the anniversary date of the murders -- that the bishops joined many others in "commemorating the lives and work of the six Jesuits and their collaborators."

Jesuit Fathers Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Segundo Montes, Amando Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno and Joaquin Lopez y Lopez were slain on the campus of Jesuit-run Central American University in San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital, along with Julie Elba Ramos, 42, and her 16-year-old daughter Celina Mariset.

Soldiers of an elite, U.S.-trained brigade admitted that they carried out the murders, which marked a turning point in the 12-year civil war in El Salvador. In 1993, a U.N.-appointed truth commission concluded that the killings were ordered by the High Command of the Armed Forces, headed by El Salvador's defense minister at the time, Gen. Rene Emilio Ponce.

But an all-embracing amnesty law, passed days after the commission's report was released, guaranteed that Ponce and his fellow conspirators would never go on trial. Those convicted in the murders were freed as a result.

Bishop Hubbard, in a Nov. 11 letter, thanked the U.S. Senate co-sponsors of a resolution honoring the Jesuits and their work. It passed the Senate Oct. 26. In an earlier letter he thanked the co-sponsors of a similar resolution in the House of Representatives.

"The international and Salvadoran outcry in response to the deaths of the six Jesuits and two women and the subsequent investigations into this crime served as a catalyst for negotiations and contributed to the signing of the 1992 peace accords, which have allowed the people and the government of El Salvador to achieve significant progress in creating and strengthening democratic political, economic, and social institutions," the Senate resolution said.

The resolution also "calls upon the president, the secretary of state, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and other federal departments and agencies to support and collaborate with the government of El Salvador and other public, private, nongovernmental and religious organizations in efforts to reduce poverty and hunger and to promote educational opportunity, human rights, the rule of law and social equity for the people of El Salvador."

Bishop Hubbard, in his letter, said the Jesuits demonstrated "a commitment to a more just and peaceful society where ... human needs and rights are acknowledged and respected."

In Oct. 28 letters to each of the 33 co-sponsors of the House resolution that passed Oct. 21, Bishop Hubbard thanked them and said the bishops joined them "in commemorating the lives and work of the six Jesuits and their collaborators, and in continuing to seek ways to build the common good, not only in El Salvador but throughout our world."


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