Home » Posts tagged 'murdered'

Forgive your aggressors, pope tells victims of Colombia’s civil war

By

Catholic News Service

VILLAVICENCIO, Colombia — If just one victim of Colombia’s civil war forgives his or her aggressor, it can set off a chain reaction of hope for reconciliation and peace, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass Sept. 8 in Villavicencio, a city filled with those who fled their homes during the war and with former fighters trying to start over, Pope Francis pleaded for honesty and courage.

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to celebrate Mass at Catama field in Villavicencio, Colombia, Sept. 8. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the beginning of the Mass, he held up two heroic examples of those who gave their lives to “rise up out of the swamp of violence and bitterness”: Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca, who was murdered by Colombian Marxist guerrillas in 1989, and Father Pedro Maria Ramirez, who was killed at the start of the Colombian civil war in 1948.

Pope Francis beatified the two at the Mass, which was celebrated in the middle of a broad field, typical of the area’s cattle ranching terrain.

In his homily, the pope acknowledged that, during 52 years of war, many at the Mass suffered horrors.

“How many of you can tell of exiles and grief,” he said.

The Christian call to reconciliation is not something abstract, the pope said. “If it were, then it would only bring sterility and greater distance.” It requires acknowledging the truth and letting victims speak.

And “when victims overcome the understandable temptation to vengeance, they become the most credible protagonists for the process of building peace,” he said. “What is needed is for some to courageously take the first step in that direction, without waiting for others to do so. We need only one good person to have hope. And each of us can be that person.

“This does not mean ignoring or hiding differences and conflicts. This is not to legitimize personal and structural injustices,” Pope Francis insisted. Reconciliation must be accompanied by a firm commitment to change the inequalities and behaviors that fueled the war for decades.

Celebrating Mass in an area known as the gateway to the Amazon, the pope said he could not ignore the need for reconciliation with the natural environment.

“It is not by chance that even on nature we have unleashed our desire to possess and subjugate,” he said. To the delight of many in the crowd, he quoted the famous Colombian singer and peace activist, Juanes: “The trees are weeping, they are witnesses to so many years of violence. The sea is brown, a mixture of blood and earth.”

     Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

Comments Off on Forgive your aggressors, pope tells victims of Colombia’s civil war

Two parish priests kidnapped, murdered in Poza Rica, Mexico

By

Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY — Two priests were kidnapped and killed in the Mexican state of Veracruz, raising the death toll of clergy murdered in Mexico to 14 in less than four years.

Veracruz state attorney general Luis Angel Bravo Contreras told reporters Sept. 20 that the “victims and the victimizers knew each other” and added that the attack was “not a kidnapping.”

The bodies of Fathers Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz are seen along a roadside Sept. 19 in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The priests were found murdered that day, just hours after they were kidnapped from the low-income neighborhood where they served. (CNS /EPA)

The bodies of Fathers Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz are seen along a roadside Sept. 19 in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The priests were found murdered that day, just hours after they were kidnapped from the low-income neighborhood where they served. (CNS /EPA)

“They were together, having a few drinks, the gathering broke down due to alcohol and turned violent,” he said.

Catholic officials in Veracruz rejected the explanation, calling it “an easy out” and saying it ignored the reality of a state notorious for crime and corruption.

“We are hoping for more professional and careful inquiry, because this declaration the prosecutor is giving generates more doubts than responses to the issue of the murder of these two priests,” said Father Jose Manuel Suazo Reyes, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa. “It surprises us how quickly they’ve concluded an investigation that requires more time and care.”

Father Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Father Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz were dragged at gunpoint out of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Poza Rica, a Gulf Coast oil city consumed by crime in recent years, the Diocese of Papantla confirmed in a statement.

Media reported the men were found Sept. 19, one day after their abduction, along the side of a highway with their hands and feet bound. They were beaten and had gunshot wounds, according to media reports.

A driver employed by the parish also was abducted, Mexican media reported, but was found unharmed.

State officials said Sept. 20 that five men participated in the abductions and one of the suspect’s identities was known. Robbery of a church building fund was cited as a motive, Veracruz media outlet Plumas Libres reported.

“In these moments of pain, impotence and tragedy provoked by violence, we raise our prayers to the heavens for the eternal rest of our brothers and implore to the Lord the conversion of the aggressors. Of the authorities, we await the clarification of the acts and the application of those responsible,” the Mexican bishops’ conference said in a statement.

Violence has struck Veracruz clergy previously. In 2013, two priests in the Diocese of Tuxpan were murdered in their parish.

Comments Off on Two parish priests kidnapped, murdered in Poza Rica, Mexico

Murdered nuns recalled for their generosity, service in Mississippi

By

Catholic News Service

JACKSON, Miss. — The deaths of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill demand justice, but not revenge, Franciscan Father Greg Plata said during a memorial Mass for the women religious in the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle.

Sister Margaret Held, 68, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, and Sister Paula Merrill, 68, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, are pictured in undated photos. The two women religious were found stabbed to death Aug. 25 in their Durant, Mississippi, home, police said. (CNS photo/School Sisters of St. Francis and Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)

Sister Margaret Held, 68, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, and Sister Paula Merrill, 68, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, are pictured in undated photos. The two women religious were found stabbed to death Aug. 25 in their Durant, Mississippi, home, police said. (CNS photo/School Sisters of St. Francis and Sisters of Charity of Nazareth)

“I truly believe with all my heart that Margaret and Paula would tell us that we need to keep loving,” said the priest during the Aug. 29 Mass.

Father Plata is sacramental administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lexington, Mississippi, the parish in which the sisters were active.

Sister Margaret, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, and Sister Paula, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, were recalled by family and friends in prayer services and Masses in the days after they were found dead Aug. 25 in the Durant, Mississippi, home they shared.

Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, has been charged with two counts of capital murder, larceny and burglary in connection with the incident.

The day before the Mass, representatives of the sisters’ religious communities and families issued a statement opposing the death penalty for the suspect charged in their deaths.

“Many people will be dismayed, even angered at the joint statement the School Sisters of St. Francis and the Sisters of Charity made stating that they are opposed to the death penalty that could be imposed on the person who committed this terrible crime,” Father Plata said at the Mass. “But think of the powerful statement that makes. At the heart of Christianity is forgiveness. ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do.’

“Forgiveness isn’t something we do on our own. It is something we choose to do with God’s grace,” the Franciscan said.

During a brief vigil at the sisters’ home Aug. 27, representatives of the religious orders called for a period of reflection and remembrance.

Sister Susan Gatz, president of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and Sister Rosemarie Rombalski, of the School Sisters of St. Francis, went into the women’s home prior to the ceremony for prayer, closure and reflection. In the kitchen, they discovered a loaf of bread in a bread maker. The simple act, typical of the sisters who were known for being generous with their good food, turned into a life-giving symbol for the communities.

“Marge and Paula really had that sense of offering bread to each other. The bread of life, the bread of energy, the bread of hope,” Sister Rosemarie said.

Sisters broke the loaf in half to share with their respective communities in Milwaukee and Nazareth, Kentucky.

About 300 people gathered at St. Thomas Church the evening of Aug. 27 for another vigil. In addition to the more than 100 people packed inside the tiny sanctuary, another 200 watched a video feed from a tent on the lawn.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson presided over the service, but Father Plata offered a homily. He remembered the sisters as great cooks, gardeners, generous souls and hopeful women of the Gospel.

“As Christians, we only have one choice, to move on in hope,” he said.

As the families cope with the loss of their loved ones, they also worry about the people of Durant and Lexington.

“A big hole in the universe and in our hearts,” is how Annette Held described losing her older sister. “Sister Margaret was a wonderful and gracious person, always a concerned about others and certainly the spiritual leader of the family. This tragedy is leaving a big hole for us. We are also worried because there is no one to carry their ministry now and that has been very important for so long for the community they lived in and for our family too. We keep wishing we knew what will happen next at the clinic.”

Rosemarie Merrill, Sister Paula’s sister and who made the trip to Mississippi from her home in Stoneham, Massachusetts, expressed a similar concern.

Sister Paula’s “faith was very strong. And she was a wonderful nurse,” she said. “I feel so bad for the people of Holmes County because they’ve lost so much. The care they provided leaves a huge void. They would do anything for their patients.”

Smith is editor of the Mississippi Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Jackson. Contributing to this report were Elsa Baughman of Mississippi Catholic and Marnie McAllister, editor of The Record, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky.

 

 

Comments Off on Murdered nuns recalled for their generosity, service in Mississippi

25 years later, the legacy of Jesuits murdered in El Salvador lives on

By

Catholic News Service

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The legacy of six murdered Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter lives on in El Salvador.

Jesuits from Central America and other parts of the world, along with hundreds of parishioners, commemorated the 25th anniversary of the murders. For demanding social justice in a country marked by abject poverty, and in the midst of a civil war, the six Jesuits were considered the left’s ideologues by the right-wing sectors of the country.

Salvadorans take part in a procession Nov. 15 at Central American University in San Salvador, El Salvador. The university commemorated the killing of six Jesuit priests and two women by the Salvadoran military 25 years ago. In Washington more than 1,600 people gathered to remember the lives of the eight martyrs during the annual Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice Nov. 15-17. (CNS photo/Oscar Rivera, EPA)

Salvadorans take part in a procession Nov. 15 at Central American University in San Salvador, El Salvador. The university commemorated the killing of six Jesuit priests and two women by the Salvadoran military 25 years ago. In Washington more than 1,600 people gathered to remember the lives of the eight martyrs during the annual Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice Nov. 15-17. (CNS photo/Oscar Rivera, EPA)

Twenty-five years later it is clear that the victims of the war in this country need justice; we also need more economic equality,” said Jesuit Father Rodolfo Cardenal, former vice rector of Central American University, site of the 1989 murders.

On Nov. 16, 1989, in the midst of the biggest offensive launched by the guerrillas of Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, a commando unit of the Salvadoran army killed Jesuit Fathers Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Segundo Montes, Amando Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno and Joaquin Lopez.

Elba Ramos, the cook and housekeeper, and her 16-year-old daughter, Celina Ramos, also were murdered.

The weeklong commemoration of their deaths included talks, cultural activities and radio and television programs, culminating Nov. 15 with a Mass celebrated by Jesuit Bishop Gonzalo de Villa Vasquez of Solola, Guatemala.

Father Rolando Alvarado Lopez, Jesuit provincial for Central America, said from the pulpit: “The spirit rested in our Jesuit martyrs and in hundreds of women and men, catechists, peasants, students and in all those martyrs who, by their actions, were trying to be like Jesus.”

The 1980-1992 Salvadoran civil war left an estimated 75,000 dead and 8,000 missing.

Ivette Escobar, a marketing student at Central American University, said the priests’ deaths were not in vain, and the legacy she has taken is to continue the struggle for the defense of the poorest in the country.

“They were an example of how one should pursue justice for others,” she said to Catholic News Service, while making a colorful rug with the faces of the murdered priests.

Delegations of communities that bear the name of some of the murdered priests also participated in the activities: for example, the “Comunidad Segundo Montes,” founded in November 1989 by Salvadorans who returned after fleeing to Honduras; they settled in the northern department of Morazan.

Father Montes was a prominent sociologist who, in the 1980s, began to study the phenomenon of migration and human rights. He was the founder of the university’s Human Rights Institute, the main center for free legal aid.

The “Cooperativa Martin-Baro” in Jayaque is another example of the martyrs’ heritage.

Father Martin-Baro taught social psychology and founded the university’s Public Opinion Institute, aware of the importance of measuring the mood and opinion of the population. In 1986 he was the first to conduct a survey that reflected the view of Salvadorans about the civil war, recalled Jeannette Aguilar, director of the institute.

“Twenty-five years have passed and it is still essential, the need for pollsters that have a rigorous and independent view of our society … Martin-Baro’s father picked up the voice of the people,” said Aguilar.

Father Ellacuria’s academic work was given to UNESCO’s Memory of the World program. The priest was a philosopher and proponent of liberation theology.

During this 25th anniversary year, the U.S.-based John Joseph Moakley Charitable Foundation donated $100,000 to Central American University to fund educational programs. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities donated $34,000.

The Jesuits’ killers still have not been brought to justice.

In May 2011, a Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant against nine Salvadoran officers accused of plotting to kill the Jesuits, five of whom were Spanish citizens by birth.

But El Salvador refused to extradite the defendants, arguing that the 1993 amnesty law did not allow it.

Human rights organizations have said that crimes against humanity should not be included in amnesty laws.

— By Edgardo Ayala

Comments Off on 25 years later, the legacy of Jesuits murdered in El Salvador lives on

Pope Francis mourns missionary nuns murdered in Burundi

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis mourned the deaths of three Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary, who were murdered in two separate attacks in their residence in Burundi.

Sister Lucia Pulici, 75, and Sister Olga Raschietti, 82, were found dead Sept. 7 in their mission residence in the capital of Bujumbura. Sister Bernadetta Bogianni, 79, who had found the bodies, was killed the next night.

In telegrams sent to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura and Sister Ines Frizza superior general of the Xaverian Missionary Sister of Mary, the pope expressed his sadness concerning the “tragic deaths” of these “faithful and devout nuns.”

The messages, sent on behalf of the pope by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the pope hoped that “the blood they have shed may become the seed of hope to build true fraternity between peoples.”

Xaverian Missionary Father Mario Pulcini, superior of the Xaverian Missionaries in Burundi, told MISNA, the missionary news service, that he had gone to the mission house Sept. 7 after he and Sister Boggiani had been unable to reach Sisters Pulici and Raschietti by telephone all of that day.

“I was in front of the main door with the idea of forcing it open when it opened and I saw Bernadetta there very upset. She had found a side service entrance open and, once she entered, found the lifeless bodies of Sisters Olga and Lucia,” he said.

They alerted government, military, judicial and religious authorities, the priest said, and an investigation was begun.

Despite the murders, the sisters decided to spend the night in their home. However, they phoned Father Pulcini during the night of Sept. 8, afraid that “the aggressor was in the home.” When the priest arrived, he found Sister Bogianni had been killed, too.

There was no word yet on possible suspects or motives of the killings.

The three missionary sisters had been working in Burundi, helping the poor and the sick, the past seven years, Vatican Radio reported. Sister Bogianni had been a superior of the congregation for many years.

On Sept. 8, the mission house was “full of people who have come to mourn the nuns and express their solidarity,” the radio said.

Comments Off on Pope Francis mourns missionary nuns murdered in Burundi
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.