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Online Newsletter of CRISPAZ
Christians for Peace in El Salvador 

Winter Edition 2016
New Year Message 

   As we have reached the end of 2016 and begun 2017, CRISPAZ hopes you had a happy Christmas and New Year.

 The Christmas period is a special one for many of us. It is a time for family, celebrations and of hope. Unfortunately the hope for "Peace on Earth" may seem far with the horrific suffering and violence happening in different places around the world. However, we must remain faithful and continue to make a call for moral action. We trust in our capacities to forge new beginnings filled with healthy global relationships and social transformation.  Relationships where accompaniment replaces estrangement, kindness overcomes selfishness and solidarity triumphs over indifference.

 Our wish is that, together, we will continue to uphold our commitment to solidarity throughout 2017, embracing the legacy of Mons Romero.  
Sister of Charity 
Kateri Koverman 
(1943 to 2016),
Intrepid CRISPAZ Volunteer 1986-1988

By: Peter Hinde, O. Carm. Co-Founder and CRISPAZ Board Member
   Christians for Peace in El Salvador was only in its second year in operation when we were joined by Kateri Koverman, a Sister of Charity from Cincinnati, Ohio.   She was one of five volunteers for Crispaz that year - 1986.  She stayed almost three years and with her experience and maturity helped steady the younger volunteers.  By 1988 Crispaz had 9 other volunteers; six of them with Kateri terminated their service with Crispaz by the end of 1988.  Others came.   Crispaz did not lack for volunteers in the war years in El Salvador.

 Those years (1986-88) in El Salvador Kateri worked first at the aldea Dolores Medina in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Calle Real some 9 km north of the capital San Salvador.   She appreciated the work of the native Sisters there but found them too restricted.   The town of Tenancingo in Cuscatl├ín had been bombed in 1983 and the people still needed urgent pastoral attention.  She arrived there in late 1988 or early 1987.  People were still returning at that time. 
  She met with them in what remained of the Church that itself had been bombed, severely damaged, and not repaired.   She stayed with those people as they tried to put their lives back together, returning to the CRISPAZ center frequently as was the custom of the Volunteers. 

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Photo courtesy of Damon Drideaux

Christians for Peace in 
El Salvador presented 
Fr. Thomas Smolich, S.J. With the 2016 
CRISPAZ Peace Award

 On the evening of November 30th, CRISPAZ honored Fr. Thomas Smolich, S.J. with the 2016 CRISPAZ Peace Award in Santa Clara University's De Saisset Museum.
 Inspired in the testimony of the Martyrs of El Salvador, the CRISPAZ Peace Award was established in 2009, and honors particular individuals or organizations who embody the preferential option for the poor in their work for the promotion of peace and social justice.
 Kelly Czajka, CRISPAZ Vice-Chair, who was the Master of Ceremonies began by welcoming guests and expressed CRISPAZ' gratitude to Fr. Engh, S.J. and SCU for hosting our event.
 First there was an acoustic musical performance by Francisco Herrera.
 Following this, Fr. Michael Engh, S.J., President of Santa Clara University, took the opportunity to mention the long history of cooperation between SCU and CRISPAZ. He also announced the great news that Santa Clara University's program in El Salvador Casa de la Solidaridad would resume operations as well as the Ignatian Center's relaunching of its El Salvador Spring Break Immersion program in 2017. Following the announcement, Fr. Engh delivered an invocation.
 Francisco Mena, CRISPAZ' Executive Director, continued by sharing a little about CRISPAZ' history, mission, vision and values. How CRISPAZ has been in ongoing solidarity with the people of El Salvador since its founding in 1984. As well as how CRISPAZ's programs have accompanied, war refugees, youth at risk, Christian base communities, artisans from rural communities, and human rights organizations.

CRISPAZ Peace Award 2016 Ceremony
CRISPAZ Peace Award 2016 Ceremony

Editorial Staff

Rafael Garcilazo, 
Communications Coordinator
Michael Lee,
Member of the Board
Francisco Mena,
Executive Director
Make a


Please join the many friends of CRISPAZ by making an online donation today. It is safe, secure and it helps us to be able to continue our mission of accompaniment with the rural poor of  El Salvador. 

Ernesto Valiente
Vice Chair:
 Kelly Czajka
 Brian Rude
 Christopher Kerr

  Board Members  
Ann Bollheimer
Peter Buck
 Angela Casanova     
Colleen Cross 
Jennifer Collins Cevallos
Don Clarke
Paul Darilek
Rev. Joaquin Figueroa
Rev. Dan Groody, CSC
Rev. Peter Hinde, O.Carm. 
Meg Hannigan Dominguez
Paul Knitter
Rev. Tim Kesicki, S.J.
Michael Lee
Carol Muntz
Peter Neeley, S.J.
Kent Newton
Ana Maria Pineda, RSM.
Rev. Kevin Quinn, S.J.
Marielos Tores
Austin Woody  
  Visit Our Website

Artwork courtesy of Jose A. Montoya
Originally published in Carta a las Iglesias #677-678, October 2016

by J.M. Tojeira, S.J.

 In the wake of the decision declaring the amnesty law unconstitutional, and after the arrest and later release of the perpetrators accused of the UCA massacre, some people have been urging the need for forgiveness. Unfortunately, some of these people, inlcuding government representatives, have made this suggestion in a manner that, to say the least, is confusing and unclear.  In the minds of some there seems to be an unfortunate confusion between the Christian forgiveness of sins and the legal pardon of crimes. The real difference between these two realities needs to be clarified. There are others who insist that justice opens old wounds, and so, it is best to forgive and forget. Still others believe that forgiveness from victims can be achieved by lavisihing them with gifts and monetary donations. 

 About Christian forgiveness, we can say that it is mandatory for all those who truly believe in the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. Christian forgiveness, however difficult it may be, must be our first response. Such forgiveness consists of not wishing harm to those who have wronged us, not even the very harm they have inflicted on us. Christians must pray for those who persecute or hurt them.

 But this does not mean that forgiveness is divorced from truth and justice. Forgiveness does not mean turning a blind eye, forgetting or becoming indifferent to wrongdoing. But it does call for the resolve not to follow the example of the wrongdoers. If the wrongdoer kills, a Christian does not respond with "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." This would reduce the victim to the same level as the offender. If the offender turns to the brutality of killing, a Christian cannot seek the culprit's death - either illegally or legally by means of the death penalty. But justice must be demanded, for justice is not at odds with forgiveness. Furthermore, justice, like truth, is fundamental for the prevention of crime and for the good of the community. And because justice is for the good of the community, it cannot be the responsibility of the victim, but must reside in the hands of government institutions bound by laws. If the victim is a Christian, then he/she must forgive. But justice must still be sought.

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Truth & Justice 
Not Amnisty

By Rafael Garcilazo, CRISPAZ Communications Coordinator

 By turning its back on a law that has done little but allow criminals to get away with atrocious human rights violations for many years, El Salvador is, at last dealing with a painful past damaged by obstinacy, impunity and oblivion, can perhaps begin to build for the future.
 With the decision by El Salvador's Supreme Court to declare the country's Amnesty Law unconstitutional, back in July, and the recent anniversary of the UCA Martyrs, CRISPAZ sat down to speak with Ovidio Gonzalez, director of Tutela Legal and Fr. Jose Maria Tojeria, S.J. director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America (IDHUCA) to get their opinion of this law.
CRISPAZ: What are the social effects of the Amnesty Law over these recent years?

 Ovidio Gonzalez: The first of many effects is that both justice and truth have been denied. This is the outcome that has most deeply affected Salvadoran society, especially the victims. The victims need to know the truth behind the crimes committed against them. So many victims are asking themselves why they were targeted when they did not take part in the struggle.
 Justice has not been done, and truth has not been revealed. And this makes it possible for the people who committed these crimes, the people who were and still are in power not to change their position. They have been given a green light to continue their oppressive policies. There have been cases of forced disappearances, not only by the gangs, but also by the military and government security forces, acting with a modus operandi similar to what we saw during the war. We can recognize how, under the pretext of the war against crime, many of these violent acts are being justified. The Amnesty Law must be abolished in order to put an end to such violence, in order for people to know the truth, and in order for others to take responsibility for their actions. The Amnesty Law has caused tremendous damage to Salvadoran society.

2016 Delegations

Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Indianapolis, IN
Fordham University, Bronx, NY
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
Staff & Faculty  
  University of Dayton, Dayton, OH  
Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA

U. of Scranton, The Jesuit Center, Scranton, PA
  University of San Diego, San Diego, CA
St. John the Baptist Parish, Cincinnatti, OH  
University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, MI

St. Ignatius College Preparatory, San Francisco, CA  
St. Michael & Sts. Peter & Paul Churches, 
Ft. Loramie, OH
Mount Notre Dame High School, Cincinnati, OH  
Rotary Club of Mechanicsburg, Mechanicsburg, PA
St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

CRISPAZ would like to express our deepest gratitude to the delegations that visited El Salvador through the CRISPAZ Encounter Program in 2016.

On behalf of the many people and organizations we accompany, 

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