Rutilio Grande – martyr

Thirty five years ago, on March 12, 1977, Jesuit Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., was martyred in El Salvador, between Aguilares and El Paisnal, with the two people in the jeep with him, Manuel Solorzano and Nelson Rutilio Lemus.

Rutilio Grande had been a rather timid and scrupulous man but his work with the poor, forming them in base communities, visiting them in their poor homes, helping train them to be catechists and delegates of the word, and proving them opportunities to train health promoters, moved him to become a simple and straightforward defender of the Word of God and the poor.

A month before he was killed he preached the homily at a public Mass in protest of the forced exile of a priest. At the homily he preached these prophetic words:

“All of us have the same Father. We are all children of this Father, although we were born of different mothers. All of us are brothers and sisters. We are equal. But Cain is an abortion in God’s plan, and groups of Cain do exist.

“The Lord God, in this plan, gave us a material world, like this material bread and this material cup which we lift up in offering to Christ the Lord. It is a material world for everyone, without borders. This what Genesis tells us. It is not something I make up.

“ ‘I bought half of El Salvador with my money and I have a right to it.’ There is no right to discuss this! It is a negation of God! There are no rights for the majority!

“But the material world is for everyone, without borders. A common table with a tablecloth big enough for everyone, like this Eucharist. Each one with a seat, so that each one comes to the table to eat.”

Sad to say, land is still being held in the hands of the few and the many campesino farmers, especially here in Honduras, do not have land to grow the corn and beans they eat. Some rent land, others work as day laborers. The Catholic social teaching principle of the universal destination of the goods of the earth is ignored.

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