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This atypical year, the expected priestly ordination of the Spanish province of the Society of Jesus took place a few weeks later than usual. It was hotter, those attending wore masks and the church was much emptier as only family and close friends came because health measures (covid19) required limited capacity. However, there was an atmosphere of joy, without losing awareness of the extraordinary circumstances in which the ceremony took place. The celebration was presided by Carlos Osoro, Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, with the presence of Monsignor Salvador Giménez Valls, Bishop of Lleida and Antonio España, SJ, Provincial of Spain. Four Jesuits were ordained, three of them Spanish: Ángel Benítez- Donoso Tarascón, SJ, Pedro Rodríguez-Ponga Gutiérrez-Bolívar and Lluís S. Salinas Roca, SJ. The fourth, Michael Ochieng' Otieno, SJ, is from Kenya. The readings from the Eucharist (Is. 55, 10-11, Ps. 64, 10.11.12-13.14 and Rom. 8, 18-23) including the Gospel reading with the parable of the sower, referred to the idea of sowing and reaping and the constant need we have for many people who want to give themselves to this task. In his homily the cardinal he highlighted three ideas about ordination: event, project and mission: "The Lord gives you his own ministry and mission," he began. And he wanted to keep Pedro Arrupe, SJ, in mind: "I cannot resist the fact that when I die, the world will continue as if I had not lived," he reminded them. He also emphasized that the sacrament they were receiving was a great project and he invited them to be "missionary, creative” The ordination rite continued with the litanies, the laying on of hands, the wearing of the stole in the manner of the priest and the chasuble by the sponsors. This was followed by the anointing of the hands with Chrism, the handing over of the bread and the chalice and the kiss of peace among the priests, all with the corresponding sanitary measures. After the celebration, Ángel Benítez, pronounced some words of thanks on behalf of everyone. You can see more pictures in this album Video of the ordination
The Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) presented this July the report 'Ten years looking the other way', the tenth annual publication in this series. Ten years since a group of people began to visit the Centre for the Internment of Foreigners (CIE) in Madrid and to publish annual analyses with the aim of raising social awareness of the hostile reality of CIE and to knock on the door of the Administration to demand the fulfilment of human rights in these centres and their definitive closure. This year, unfortunately, the report has very little statistical data from the Ministry of the Interior, which is failing in its legal duty of transparency. According to the data handled, 6,473 people were interned last year, 18% less than in 2018. Of these, almost 60% were eventually forcibly repatriated from CIE. In 2019, the SJM noted serious violations of the rights of foreign nationals, through 1,462 visits by its teams to 793 persons in five CIE in the territory. These violations are a constant in these ten years of SJM's work at CIE, in fact since its opening. The report reviews cases of deficiencies in judicial authorizations for internment; episodes of police violence, even described as torture and degrading and humiliating treatment; cases of self-harm and suicide that have required a severe protocol to limit isolation; internment of minors, as well as people with mental and physical illnesses; serious structural problems in the facilities; obstacles to human assistance from NGOs; shortcomings in legal assistance and interpreters; lack of socio-cultural activities… The report analyses the defective application of the Rules of Procedure of the CIE, born in. It takes a brief look at first detention facilities, such as the airport's inadmissibility rooms and the repatriation flights managed by Frontex. SJM once again calls for the closure of the CIEs, or at least, if they are reopened - after closure during the pandemic - for human rights to be guaranteed and for their use to be restricted to very exceptional cases, as a last resort as provided for by law. You can download the report from these links: o The original and long version (64 pages) of the report in Spanish can be found at: ly/informecie2019cast o The short version in Catalan can be found at: ly/informe2019cat o The short version in English can be found at: ly/informecie2019eng
In mid-July was set for sentencing the trial of Inocente Orlando Montano, former Salvadoran deputy minister of public security, accused of being one of the intellectual authors of the Jesuit massacre and two employees of the UCA in 1989,. In one of the sessions, two people testified. First, at the request of the accusations, Terry Lynn Karl, professor of political science and director of the Department of Latin American Studies at Stanford University in the United States. Based on numerous declassified documents and interviews, Karl concluded that there was a "code of silence" in the Salvadoran army to cover up human rights violations. Montano was part of the core that concentrated de facto power within the armed forces, where important decisions were made by consensus. That same day, Mauricio Ernesto Vargas, a retired general of the Salvadoran Armed Forces and member of the Tandona, testified as part of the defence. On Tuesday, Oscar Alfredo Santamaría, a former minister in President Cristiani's government and a member of the commission that drafted the General Amnesty Law, declared that the tasks of the deputy minister were purely administrative and technical advice. He reiterated, in response to questions from the defence, that the Armed Forces had always sought a peaceful solution to the conflict. During Tuesday's session, several testimonies of deceased witnesses were also read, accrediting the context of hostility towards the Jesuits and the conviction that the order to kill them came from the military leadership. The last session of the trial was held on Wednesday 15 July. First, the reports by the prosecution and the defence were presented. The former spoke of a "pact for massacre", "state terrorism" and "war crime" and called for 150 years in prison; the latter spoke of "lack of evidence" and "unsubstantiated claims in documents or papers to the contrary" and called for acquittal and, if convicted, the application of exemptions from "state of necessity", "irresistible force" and "insurmountable fear". Finally, the defendant, Inocente Orlando Montano, disregarding his lawyer, had the last word. He swore "before the court and before God" that he was not lying and that he did not participate in any meeting where the crime was ordered to be committed. He summed up his version of events in one sentence: "There was no preconceived plan, it was a mistake by the soldiers”. The trial is set for sentencing and for history. Montano is the only alleged mastermind of the UCA massacre who could be tried in Spain under the principle of Universal Justice. While waiting for the verdict - which may come in weeks - the public hearing has brought to light testimonies, declassified documents, and the enormous work of investigators and experts, with the tireless support of family members and human rights organizations, who are pointing to a truth whose judicial sanction can help heal the wounds of a conflict that left 80.000 victims in the 1980s in El Salvador.
The Pedro Arrupe international long-term volunteer program, known as VOLPA, has opened its doors in July. The program is offered by the NGOs Entreculturas and ALBOAN with the aim of creating a new culture based on justice and solidarity. Volpa trains and accompanies people who wish to live an international volunteering experience, for one or two years, in partner institutions working in Africa and especially in Latin America. It has three stages:Nine-month classroom training in different cities.Field experience, for 1 or 2 yearsReturn: accompaniment for at least 6 months VOLPA is an international volunteering program designed for people over 21 years old who have experience volunteering with groups in exclusion in Spain. To register or request information you must find the nearest city and write an email to the training team. Deadlines are open from now until October. If you want to meet other people and cultures, mobilize for injustices and transform your view while transforming the world, our international volunteer program is for you. All the information about the program can be found at this link
The recent health crisis has disrupted the activities proposed by the Province of Spain. The initiatives that year after year the pastoral agents offer to young people and families during summer have had to be suspended. It is in this context that the project Servir Juntos Verano 2020 (#SJV2020) was born. It is about being able to have experiences of voluntary work, service and spiritual experience, during the summer, in the context that is now ours. Servir Juntos Verano tries to put forces, volunteers and resources at the disposal of the concrete needs of each city and village in which the Province has a presence. #SJV2020 is not a set of activities only for young people; it is an invitation to the whole Ignatian network in Spain to get underway to identify needs and put themselves at service. It is an opportunity to understand that the place of mission is our own life, our usual streets, and to learn to see our surroundings with new eyes. More information at: https://sites.google.com/view/servir-juntos-verano-2020/
This month began at the Spanish National Court the trial for the murder of the five Jesuits who were Spanish citizens, in El Salvador in 1989, the case of the UCA martyrs. The trial is the result of the efforts of several families of murdered Jesuits, the Association for Human Rights of Spain, and the Center for Justice & Accountability of the United States. The provincial of Spain, Antonio España SJ, welcomed the beginning of this trial, pointing out that although "it would have been preferable that the trial be held in El Salvador", given the impossibility of that happening, it is positive that it takes place in Spain. The Society of Jesus itself in Central America hopes that universal justice "will contribute to the functioning of the Salvadoran justice system". The trial could be followed online from the Basque television website: https://www.eitb.eus/es/. The first session served to exonerate Lieutenant René Yusshy Mendoza, one of the members of the battalion that perpetrated the crime, from criminal responsibility due to the statute of limitations on the crime of which he was accused. His defense asked for it, and the accusations supported it. Mendoza is one of only two people in El Salvador who were convicted of the case before the amnesty law. He will thus go from defendant to witness, which may prove decisive for the trial. His statement will be heard on 8th July. In the second session, the awaited statement from former Colonel Inocencio Orlando Montano arrived. He did so for barely an hour and answering only his lawyer's questions. If the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus had encouraged Montano to "take advantage of this great opportunity" to contribute to the clarification of the truth "by making known all that he knows about said crime," it soon became clear that this would not be the case. Montano denied the charges against him. He recalled that in 1989 he served as Deputy Minister of Public Security, a position that placed the police forces under his command, but not the military; his functions were "merely administrative”. He acknowledged that in the days prior to the massacre, information had come in that the rebels were storing weapons at the UCA and so sent the Atlacatl battalion to carry out searches at the university - these searches, in which no weapons were found, were the prelude to the crime - but "militarily there was never any intention of harming him [Ellacuría], the Church or the university”. Montano said he always thought the crime was committed by the rebels, not the military. The prosecution, on the other hand, claims that the decision to kill Ellacuría and the rest of the Jesuits was taken by an elite group of officials to which Montano belonged, and is asking for 150 years in prison for participating in "the decision, design or execution" of those five murders - the trial only refers to the five Spaniards killed in the massacre. Finally, the first witnesses testified. The members of two delegations sent by the Spanish Congress of Deputies to El Salvador in November 1990 and September 1991 testified. The next session will be on July 8, beginning with the statement of Rene Yusshy Mendoza at 10:00. The process in the Audiencia Nacional, which is scheduled to conclude on July 16, is a new occasion to remember that episode that marked an entire generation. Its victims are remembered today, more than three decades later, as an example of commitment and sacrifice for justice. In the Spanish media we have been able to hear testimonies from various Jesuits these days.