Loyola University Chicago

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"A Community of Blood: Jesuits, University Professors, and Worker Martyrs"

Rethink what your responsibility is to the truth.

That was the message Jon Sobrino, S.J., passed on to a packed Mundelein Auditorium on November 20. Sobrino, who helped found and taught at the University of Central America, was out of the country when the Salvadoran military killed six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter. Otherwise he very likely would have been killed as well.

“Our responsibility is to continue their struggle by speaking the truth and defending the poor,” Sobrino said.

For Sobrino, the martyrs’ deaths are a direct response to the work they were trying to accomplish during the country’s bloody civil war. The men were actively speaking out against the military’s brutality, political misdeeds, and the living conditions of the poor.

“Where we are tonight, it is important to remember that in our world today there continue to exist many victims who die from poverty, malnutrition, the absence or poor quality of health care, and from a lack of access to education,” Sobrino said. “There are innocent victims who die just because they live in dangerous places.”

Sobrino believes universities are in a position to fight for the truth and help the poor because governments and international groups often fail to address those issues.

After the martyrs’ deaths, Sobrino continued his work in Central America and has become a well-known liberation theologian. Before his address, Sobrino was presented with an honorary degree from Loyola for the work he has done as an educator, a scholar, and an advocate for the poor.