Father Sobrino, who is on the faculty, told us the Jesuits' mission today: to create liberation architects, liberation mathematicians, and liberation teachers. UCA gets no money from the government and it's no longer supported by the local elites. It relies on international aid. Because of their liberal teaching spirit, the Christmas packages from the wealthy to the professors stopped coming long ago...and the campus has been bombed 25 times.
Along with Sobrino, the school's six leading Jesuit professors were the intellectual leaders of Liberation Theology in the 1980s. That's why they were considered leaders of the revolution. And that's why, in 1989, they were murdered. (Only Sobrino, who happened to be out of the country, survived.) We walked to a memorial garden where they were killed and heard the story.
Early one morning, the Jesuits were taken from their humble quarters and dragged into the garden. One by one they were shot in the brains with exploding bullets because they were the “brains of the people's movement.” Before the government death squad left, they took time to shoot a bullet through the heart of a photo of Archbishop Oscar Romero hanging on the wall…still trying to kill him nine years after his death.
Roses grow in a garden marking the place the six Jesuits were killed. The tomb of the six reads: "What it means to be a Jesuit in our time: to commit yourself to take risks in the crucial struggle of our age — the struggle for faith and the struggle for justice which that same faith demands. We will not work for the promotion of justice without paying a price."
Reading about events in faraway lands in the newspaper, you learn what happened. Then you can flip to the sports pages or comics. But hearing the story of an event from people who lived through it, you feel what happened. Right there behind the bedrooms of those professors, the smell of the flowers, the hard labor of the man bent over in the garden, the quiet focus of students whose parents lost a revolution, the knowledge that my country provided those exploding bullets...all combined to make this experience both vivid and enduring.
About This Entry
You are reading "The University of Central America: Hotbed of Liberation Theology", an entry posted on 09 November 2009 by Rick Steves.