Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Catholicism in El Salvador's Civil War

Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Catholicism in El Salvador's Civil War

Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Catholicism in El Salvador's Civil War

Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion: Progressive Catholicism in El Salvador's Civil War

Synopsis

By examining the ways that Catholic activists responded to political violence in El Salvador during the 1970s and 1980s, this book documents the beliefs and history of an important religious community, and explores the nature of religion's role in political ideology and mobilization.

Excerpt

Although we're Christians and we follow Jesus, we're not going to stay inside the church asking God for peace. We have to do something ourselves. God illuminates us, but we have to do something . . . Even if we're not on our knees asking God for help, God will help. But we have to do something too. Since Christ gave his life, we have to do the same.

Mirtala López

Over the course of the 1970s, El Salvador slid, or rather crashed, into a political crisis that shared much in common with circumstances elsewhere in South and Central America. Like most of the region, El Salvador suffered extreme economic and political inequities, which economic crises, natural disasters, and military dictatorships only worsened. Also like other Latin Americans, many Salvadorans participated in social movements that challenged the status quo. Throughout Latin America, a number of these movements received sponsorship or at least inspiration from the Catholic Church, which had begun a process of massive self-reflection and reform following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the meeting of the Latin American Bishops' Conference (CELAM) at Medellín, Colombia, in 1968.

The political, economic, and religious upheaval common to much of Latin America in the 1970s seemed in El Salvador to be magnified in intensity. in a violent and poor region, El Salvador was more violent and poorer than almost anywhere. Responses to violence and poverty in El Salvador also took more intense forms than in most countries. While left-leaning opposition movements mobilized throughout Latin America, El Salvador was one of a handful of countries with a leftist opposition that was genuinely revolutionary, genuinely popular, and gen-

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