JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
On the eve of his historic trip to Sweden to participate in the ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the reforms of Martin Luther, Pope Francis spoke of an “ecumenism of blood”—the expression of Christian unity that emerges from their common persecution. “Look,” the pontiff told the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica, “in ecumenism the one who never makes a mistake is the enemy, the devil. When Christians are persecuted and murdered, they are chosen because they are Christians, not because they are Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Catholics or Orthodox. There is an ecumenism of blood.”
The ceremony at the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund featured a cross designed by the Salvadoran Christian Chavarria, which was chosen as the emblem of the encounter. It is very fitting that a “Salvadoran cross” should be the symbol, since El Salvador has been one of the places where the “ecumenism of blood” has been borne out. It is already known that there have been many Catholic martyrs, like Blessed Oscar Romero and the Servant of God Rutilio Grande in El Salvador. But we often forget the names of the Protestant Christian martyrs who also spilled their blood in the land of Blessed Romero. They are martyrs such as:
- Jürg Weis, evangelical theologian, coordinator of the Swiss national secretariat of the Committees of Solidarity with Central America, killed on August 22, 1988.
- Christopher Williams, evangelical pastor, killed on August 7, 1985.
- Cesar Umberto Lopez, leader of Emmanuel Baptist Church, president of the ecumenical fraternity for peace, Frater Paz, killed in San Salvador on April 17, 1998.
- Maria Cristina Gomez, of the Baptist Church, felled on April 15, 1989.
- Maria Magdalena Enriquez, a Baptist, Press Secretary of the Commission on Human Rights of El Salvador, killed on October 3, 1980.
- Ernesto Fernandez Espino, pastor of the Lutheran Church, killed on January 10, 1985.
- David Fernandez, minister of the Lutheran Church, and pastor of poor communities in eastern El Salvador, killed on November 1, 1984.
- Policiano Albeno Lopez, a Protestant pastor, and Raul Albeno Martinez, killed on November 10, 1980.
This list is not exhaustive. But in commemorating 500 years of Martin Luther and 100 years of Blessed Romero, it is good to remember these witnesses of “the Ecumenism of Blood.”