Translate death squads.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
Taking the phrase from Spanish to English was difficult enough. Let alone imparting an understanding of El Salvadors civil war, when the poor and priests working on their behalf were targeted by paramilitary troops.
It was among the challenges tackled by two seniors at Cristo Rey High School as they translated the words of Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez for the students gathered Friday in the school gym.
Chavez was a friend and collaborator of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The students had all studied the martyred Romero, shot through the heart decades ago as he finished giving a sermon. Romero is being considered for sainthood.
Chavez spent the weekend in Kansas City with the students, reporters at the National Catholic Reporter, parishioners at St. Sabina Church in Belton and other Catholic clergy. His visit was timed to the 33rd anniversary of Romeros death later this month.
But the conclave to choose a new pope and the tensions between factions of cardinals were also among his many topics. Chavez said he believes the faiths new leader must be someone who will be able to rise above those clerical divisions within the church.
During his life, Romero drew the ire of the Vatican.
These words are attributed to Romero: When the church comes into the world of sin in the intention of saving and liberating, the sin of the world enters into the church and splits it, separating the genuine Christians of good will from those who are Christians only in name and appearance.
The continuing struggles of El Salvador since its civil war, violence and the inter-connectedness of the U.S. with Latin America were persistent themes for Chavez.
In the hallway of Cristo Rey, he spoke to school staff of the recent murder of an ex-gang member outside a San Salvador church and the governments role in truces with groups like the MS-13 gang.
To the students, Chavez spoke about what it means to work alongside the poor for justice, not to just dole out food, clothing or money.
He peppered them with stories, and his prodding questions intended to spark their own sense of activism.
What do you need to change this country?
He spoke of the relative wealth of North America, the gluttony of overconsumption of material goods and the obesity problem.
When he concluded, the visiting bishop quickened his step, sidestepping his adult handlers to weave his way among the students, continuing to engage.
It was a fitting gesture. Chavezs time here saw him attempting to walk among as many people as he could reach with his message.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.