BY ISN STAFF | December 2, 2014
On the evening of December 2, 1980, Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan were abducted, raped, and brutally murdered while returning from the airport in San Salvador, El Salvador. Each of the Churchwomen had made an intentional choice to remain in El Salvador despite the growing violence toward the economically poor and the Church. Their murders were part of a growing number of violent attacks on the Catholic Church in response to its vocal advocacy for the economically poor and marginalized. These included the murders of Archbishop Oscar Romero and Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., prior to the Churchwomen’s deaths and later the killing of the six Jesuits and two laywomen in 1989. Church leaders and ministers were not the only ones being killed. During the twelve years following the deaths of the Churchwomen over 75,000 innocent civilians were killed in El Salvador as the result of a violent civil war fueled by an estimated $1 million per day of U.S. funding for the repressive Salvadoran military. Three of the five military personnel that carried out the murders of the Churchwomen received training at a U.S. military training school then-known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas.
Across the world, communities will remember Maura, Ita, Dorothy, and Jean today. We stand with these communities in lifting up the courage and commitment of these women. Our prayer today is that their legacy can continue to inspire people across the world to be people of solidarity, willing to stand up against injustice.