Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: Liberation Theology

James Cone, 1992

We should never pit them against each other. Anyone, therefore, who claims to be for one and not the other does not understand their significance for the black community, for America, or for the world. We need both of them and we need them together. Malcolm keeps Martin from being turned into a harmless American hero. Martin keeps Malcolm from being an ostracized black hero. Both leaders make important contributions to the identity of African-Americans and also, and just as importantly, to white America and Americans in general.

–James Cone, Martin, Malcolm and America: A Dream or  a Nightmare?

James Cone

James Cone; Maryknoll, NY; 1988; photo by Mev

 

 

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Abrahamic Minorities

Help men and women of good will—
from every land and color and language and religion—
to bring liberating moral pressure to bear
on authorities
and awaken their consciences
so that they will help the human race
to be freed from the shame of the subhuman beings
whom wretchedness produces,
and from the shame of the superhuman
who are begotten of excessive prosperity and luxury.

— Dom Helder Camara, Hoping against All Hope

 

Dom Helder Camara

Dom Helder Camara; Brazil; 1987; photo by Mev

An Observation

There is no conversion of those who live in scandalous wealth

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to the welfare of those who live in scandalous misery.

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–Jon Sobrino

Quotation from Apostle of Peace: Essays in Honor of Daniel Berrigan

Photos by Mev Puleo

Faces/1 (A Letter from Prison)

“Dear Perry

Thinking of you a lot these days
Been reading the martyrs
Here in my homey little cell
(For a while I got solitary for asking disruptive questions)
Wanted to send you this little gem from Monseñor
It’s like he read my mind
I’ll try to call you collect
Before you take off on your odyssey

Love in a Time of Nukes,

Rob”

The church in Latin America
Has much to say about humanity.
It looks at the sad picture
Portrayed by the Puebla conference:
Faces of landless peasants
Mistreated and killed by the forces of power,
Faces of laborers arbitrarily dismissed
And without a living wage for their families,
Faces of the elderly,
Faces of outcasts,
Faces of slum dwellers,
Faces of poor children who from infancy
Begin to feel the cruel sting of social injustice.
For them, it seems, there is no future—
No school, no high school, no university.
By what right have we cataloged persons as first-class persons or second-class persons?

–Oscar Romero, El Salvadoran Archbishop

 

–from the novel, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

Share the Wealth with SLU Puleo Scholars: Learning a Theology of Accompaniment

Three students from Saint Louis University will share stories of growth, challenges, and joy about their summer studying liberation theology and accompanying the people that they encountered in Nicaragua.

Meg Buckley is a senior studying Public Health in the accelerated MPH program for Behavioral Science and Health Education, minoring in Theology and History. Taylor Jackson is a junior studying Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, with the goal of working in the field of Public Policy. She is specifically interested in gender policy and women’s reproductive rights. Bryan Melcher is a junior studying Theology and Political Science. He plans to teach across departments in a Catholic School.

Join us Sunday 15 November for a potluck supper which begins at 6:00 pm. Meg, Taylor and Bryan begin sharing at 6:45. We gather at Sophia House, 4547 Gibson Avenue, Forest Park Southeast 63110. Please park at the west end of Gibson or on Taylor Avenue, or on the 4400 block of Chouteau.

SLU Scholars with Fernando Cardenal
Puleo Scholars and Patrick Cousins with Fernando Cardenal

Modern Crucifixion in Central America

Every day during the years of conflict in Central America, tortured bodies were found along roadsides—as in Jesus’ day the crucified victims of the Roman Empire were displayed on the side of the road—to instill fear in the population. Every day during the 1980s and early 1990s in Central America, people were killed, disappeared—because of  faith, because of their belief in a God who meant life, abundant life, life is all its fullness, for every human being.
–Margaret Swedish and Marie Dennis

 

People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador; they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones while parents are forced to watch.
–Father Daniel Santiago

No Hatred … Archbishop Oscar Romero

I ask you faithful people who listen to me with love and devotion
to pardon me for saying this,
but it gives me more pleasure that my enemies listen to me.
I know that the reason they listen to me
is that I bear a message of love.
I don’t hate them.
I don’t want revenge.
I wish them no harm.
I beg them to be converted,
to come to be happy with the happiness that you have.
Like the son in the parable who was always with his father,
you possess the joy of your faith.

–Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love (Sermons)

 

Then and Now

Why had I never noticed the number of sick who appear in the Gospels? Who or what made them sick? Political oppression, legal degradation, economic plunder, and religious neutrality …. Extreme misery prevailed within this pax romana. When you consider the New Testament as a whole, it  is truly astonishing how many sick people abound, how they are gravely and incurably ill, the paralyzed, and the psychically ill, who are connected with demons, on nearly every page of this book. Sickness, misery, despair, and hopelessness seethed everywhere on the edges of this empire, where the poor lived.

–Dorothee Sölle, On Earth as It Is in Heaven: A Liberation Spirituality of Sharing

Compromismo, 1983

I came across this excerpt  from a 1983 statement  from Brazilian Bishop Pedro Casaldáliga in response to a request from the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission on behalf of Salvadoran refugee children. This statement reminds me of the commitment of many friends over the years to the people and children of El Salvador…

Let us save the children of El Salvador, to save our very selves!

The least we can offer is money, publicity, protest, commitment. And urgent prayer. We are not doing the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission a favor. We are paying, late and poorly, a common debt.

Those of us who have the nerve to call ourselves Christians and yet stand by unmoved at this tragedy of Rachel weeping for her children or to simply get off a sporadic prayer, an occasional speech, or an indifferent check, will have no answer on our face when the sovereign  judge on that last day with no provision for appeal says to us, “I was a refugee in the flesh of a Salvadoran  child (in Honduras, or in Nicaragua, or Belize or Costa Rica, or Panama or Mexico, or in the caves of martyred Indian Guatemala), I was a refugee in the flesh of a Salvadoran child, and you did not take care of me.”

Brothers and sisters of the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission, you can count on me for anything, to the death.

The Work Is Never Done

Dear Abbie and Liz,

Given your love for theology, I thought I’d share the following reflections on someone you should at least be acquainted with.  His name is Helder Camara, former archbishop of Recife, Brazil (1909-1999).  I know  you’ve heard of an archbishop from El Salvador, Oscar Romero.  Many of us in the U.S.  know of his martyrdom, courage, and deep option for the poor of El Salvador.  The main difference between Romero and Camara is that the latter wasn’t assassinated. He lived a long life, although he was persona non grata in Brazil for many years such that people were forbidden—on radio, in newspaper, on television—to even mention his name. Read the rest of this entry »