A New Book Remembers Sr. Ita Ford
Drinan, Robert F., National Catholic Reporter
In the 1980s I gave a lecture at Jesuit Regis High School in New York City, where the students are all on scholarship. I spoke about the war being waged by the Reagan administration against the alleged communists of El Salvador.
In the discussion period, three students took issue with my remarks, making it clear that they and their families agreed with the U.S. policy of assisting the Salvadoran government. The atmosphere was almost hostile until one student stood and related that his aunt, Maryknoll Sr. Ita Ford, had been murdered by agents of the government of El Salvador. I have seldom if ever witnessed such an abrupt change in the atmosphere of a meeting.
This month we observe the 26th anniversary of the death of Sr. Ita Ford and three other church women. This year a beautiful book has been published by Orbis Books: "Here I Am, Lord": The Letters and Writings of Sr. Ita Ford.
This moving 250-page volume was put together by Sr. Ita Ford's family and friends. Her legacy is being carried forward by her brother William Ford, a New York lawyer who has had significant victories in courts against some of the Salvadoran warlords now living in affluence in the United States.
I spoke recently on the phone with Bill Ford about his litigation. He employs an act of the U.S. Congress--the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991. This is a law created from an obscure statute enacted in the first Congress in 1791.
This law allows plaintiffs whose human rights have been injured in a foreign country to recover damages in the United States if the malefactors now live or have assets here. Defendants in such cases include Ferdinand Marcos, the former president of the Philippines.
Bill Ford is helped by some nongovernmental organizations. His son who rescued me at Regis High School married, has three children, and is now the director of a new Jesuit high school for minority students in New York City.
The book includes writings about Chile--where Sr. …