Published on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
With Jon Sobrino at the SOA Protest
Thousands of us gathered this weekend for the annual funeral procession at
Born and raised in
He directs the
On Friday night, in the packed ballroom of the Howard Johnson Hotel, Pax Christi awarded him with its annual book award for his latest, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays (Orbis Books).
The book speaks poignantly about our Jesuit brother Ignacio Ellacuria, the theologian and university president killed in 1989.
"When Ellacuria 'took hold of the reality' of the
Sobrino made several addresses in
"I feel joy being here with you all. We have to say No to the SOA, but that is not my last word. We also have to say Yes to the love of great people -- the six Jesuit martyrs, their co-workers Julia Elba and Celina, the four churchwomen, Archbishop Romero and all the martyrs.
. . .
"They were always on the side of the oppressed, even when it was dangerous. To have known that great love is to say Yes. Behind the hatred on this planet, there is great love, which makes people work for justice. So the last word is not No but Yes.
. . .
"There is a way out of this mess, a way which is way beyond elections. There have been thousands of elections but the world is still worse. Let's not look for salvation outside the poor.
. . .
"What happens to us when we exclude millions of poor people from existence? The most forgotten crisis in the world is the
. . .
"We need to remember the martyrs. The martyrs were people of great love and love is a rare commodity in the world. They practiced compassion to the end. We need to thank them, because they are saving us from our total inhumanity."
Hearing his words took me back some twenty-three years, 1985, to
He's been saying it all his life, teaching that the poor can redeem our humanity. If only we defend them, walk with them, share our lives with them, become one with them. They will convert us.
Jon survived the attack those many years ago -- he happened on that day to be in
We organized and got out the word, and the Monday after the massacre, a thousand gathered around
Similarly, this past Sunday morning, thousands gathered at the gates of
The courage of the six filled us with hope, their arrests made us grieve, as we grieved all those killed by the SOA. It was, alas, a compounded grief. For news had come down from the
The pain converged -- on one hand, for SOA victims, on the other, for Father Roy. But our spirits did not go under. The purpose of our gathering did not fall to the confusion. Said
The weekend over finally, Jon Sobrino took my arm and pulled me aside. The weekend amazed him, he said. He had no idea there were so many North Americans siding with the crucified people of Central and
We're glad he came, too. And we're grateful for his faithful work to lift up the memory of the martyrs, to speak out on behalf of the suffering billions, to call us again to the conversion of the Gospel of peace and justice, to show us what it means to be human.
John Dear is a Jesuit priest, peace activist, and author of over twenty books, including his new autobiography, "A Persistent Peace," (with a foreword by Martin Sheen, Loyola Press, available from www.amazon.com ). Earlier this year, Archbishop Desmond Tutu nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. For information, see: www.johndear.org  and www.persistentpeace.com
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs