A key moment of Father General’s visit to El Salvador

A few kilometers before reaching Paisnal, Fr. General wanted to stop at the place where, on 12 March 1977, Fr. Rutilio Grande SJ, Mr. Manuel Solórzano and the young child Nelson Rutilio Lemus were shot by members of the National Guard.

Fr. Rutilio was the parish priest in Aguilares. His pastoral work with the peasants of the region helped them, through the processes of evangelization, to perceive that the message of Jesus is liberating from all injustice. The peasantry had then mobilized to defend their rights and dignity before the landowners of the region, and for that reason they ordered their death.

In that place, in front of the crosses that indicate the three lives violently shattered, Father General stayed a few minutes in prayer. Moved, he recalled that Rutilio’s murder occurred about three months before his ordination to the priesthood in July 1977.

Fr. Rutilio was a close friend of Bishop Óscar Romero and the clergy of the Archdiocese of San Salvador. His violent death, ordered by the arrogance of the powerful in alliance with the government of the country, led Bishop Romero to transform the orientation of his pastoral mission in the Archdiocese of San Salvador, assuming himself the defense of the poor. It is precisely the archdiocese that is promoting the process of beatification of Father Rutilio, a process that has the interest of the Holy Father.

Father Sosa wanted to celebrate the Eucharist in the Church of the small town of El Paisnal, where today the bodies of Rutilio and his martyred companions are buried. He was accompanied by the Provincial of Central America and ten other Jesuits, along with some one hundred collaborators of the eight apostolic works of the Society of Jesus in the country.

“We have come here to celebrate the Eucharist to ask God that the example of Christian commitment lived by Rutilio Grande and his companions, martyrs of the faith that promotes social justice, inspires and renews us,” Father General said at the beginning of the Eucharist.

In his homily, Father General pointed out to those present “the martyrs give witness to the efficiency of the one redemptive sacrifice, the sacrifice of life given out of love and with love, as Jesus did, to offer liberation and reconciliation. It is a sacrifice which, through the power of the Spirit, can also be assumed by those who accept the invitation to put into practice the Word of God and undertake the path of following his Son”.

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