Thursday, November 20, 2014

Selection from Santa Clara University Commencement Address, June 1982, by Ignacio Ellacuría, SJ:

Liberation theology has emphasized what the preferential option for the poor means in authentic Christianity. Such an option constitutes an essential part of Christian life - but it is also an historic obligation. For the poor embody Christ in a special way; they mirror for us his message of revelation, salvation and conversion. And they are also a universal social reality. Reason and faith merge, therefore, in confronting the reality of the poor. Reason must open its eyes to their suffering; faith - which is sometimes scandalous to those without it - sees in the weak of this world the triumph of God, for we see in the poor what salvation must mean and the conversion to which we are called...

...But we also have been encouraged by the words of Archbishop Romero - himself so soon to be murdered. It was he who said, while we were burying an assassinated priest, that something would be terribly wrong in our Church if no priest lay next to so many of his assassinated brothers and sisters. If the University had not suffered, we would not have performed our duty. In a world where injustice reigns, a university that fights for justice must necessarily be persecuted.

I would like to think - and this is the meaning I give to this honorary degree - that you understand our efforts, our mission. Something of the tragic reality that is El Salvador. And how do you help us? That is not for me to say. Only open your human heart, your Christian heart, and ask yourselves the three questions Ignatius of Loyola put to himself as he stood in front of the crucified world: What have I done for Christ in this world? What am I doing now? And above all, what should I do?