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Sobrino offers a bittersweet look back


In an Oct. 12 lecture at the University of Notre Dame, Jesuit theologian Jon Sobrino offered a bittersweet analysis of developments in the decade since the murders of the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter.

Sobrino is a well-known liberation theologian and a Salvadoran who escaped death in the attack on the University of Central America because he was teaching theology in Thailand at the time.

“The dominant impression today is that the majority of churches, both pastors and faithful, are turning back to the past,” Sobrino said. “This church no longer hears the voice of the poor majorities, listening rather to that of its traditional public, those who go to Mass.

“Notwithstanding a flood of words and documents -- many of them good -- we have gone from a church of the poor, dedicated utopianly to their defense and prophetically to the denunciation of their oppressors, to a church that, pendulum-wise, would seek to get back to normality, to harmony with the powers of this world,” Sobrino said.

Sobrino ended on a hopeful note, with a short quotation from his friend Ignacio Ellacuria, one of the six Jesuits killed:

“All this blood of martyrs shed in El Salvador and in all Latin America, far from plunging us into discouragement and despair, instills a new spirit of struggle and new hope in our people. In this sense, even if we are not a ‘new world’ or a ‘new continent,’ we are clearly and verifiably ... a continent of hope.

“This is an extremely important symptom of a future society in contrast with other continents that have no hope and have only fear,” Ellacuria had written.

National Catholic Reporter, November 19, 1999