The SHARE Blog

Update: The Leadership Conference of Women Religious Responds to the Vatican

June 1, 2012

A little more than a month ago, the Vatican’s Congregation on the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) issued a stinging rebuke of the US Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents over 80% of US sisters. The LCWR has just issued a formal statement and the New York Times has posted an article (see links below).

To see LCWR’s official statement: click here.

NYT Article: American Nuns Vow to Fight Harsh Criticism From the Vatican

In April, we began circulating a statement of support for our Sisters entitled “HONOR CONSCIENCE, DEFEND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM”. More than 800 rank and file Catholics and our friends in the broad interfaith community have signed onto the ad which will be published on June 8th in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

We invite you to continue gathering signatures for an online publication of the statement, and, depending on resources, in other print publications.

To sign onto the statement or to invite others to sign the statement, click here.

En Solidaridad,

Jose Artiga


Equipo Maíz Visits Houston

May 29, 2012

Last weekend, SHARE and Equipo Maíz (Team Corn) teamed up to offer two seminars for Salvadorans living in the USA. These seminars included games, discussions and training to develop leadership and organizational skills amongst the leaders of Salvadoran Solidarity Organizations in the U.S. The organizations that participated in the seminars were: Nicolas Avelar and Natalia Rodriguez of SHARE’s Board of directors, Salvadoran Civic Center (from Dallas), Volunteers for El Salvador (Houston) and Oriundos Association. All participants are committed to improving the conditions in El Salvador. The seminars helped the leaders and members of these organizations find ways to motivate others in their communities, clarify their organization’s objectives, and find ways to reach these objectives.

Participants from the different social organizations finished the seminars with a renewed sense of motivation and an awareness that other social organizations could benefit greatly from these trainings. Thank you to the participating organizations for their support and solidarity.  This was an amazing way to celebrate the wisdom and knowledge  people in the U.S. and El Salvador can share with each other. 

SHARE’s broad base of engaged supporters in the United States strengthens our advocacy program in many ways. A key element of our advocacy program is educating people in the United States about how the actions of the US government and multinational corporations affect everyday Salvadorans. Advocacy efforts in the United States are often focused on demanding respect for fundamental human rights, fair trade, or just foreign policies, exemplified today in the international struggle against metallic mining.

SHARE has been a long time supporter of Equipo Maiz, particularly with economic literacy programs including a school for leadership development, human rights, and historic memory.  SHARE also contributes to the Equipo Maiz web page.

 Click here to read more about Equipo Maiz and some of the other Salvadoran organizations we support! SHARE invites people in the United States to join advocacy efforts that support and further the work of our Salvadoran partners. Coordinating with Salvadoran-Americans and solidarity organizations amplifies the impact of our advocacy efforts.

Resurrection in El Salvador – an Easter Homily

May 4, 2012

SHARE Delegate Father Frank Desiderio of the Paulist Center in Boston, MA, reflects on his time in El Salvador

It is not just that the ancient Jews suffered and were saved, delivered to a new life. It is not just that Jesus Christ has suffered, died and risen. It is that we each go through the Paschal Mystery, we each suffer some cross, die some death, rise to some new life.


Father Frank

I saw this clearly on the trip to El Salvador as a member of the Sister Community Delegation We went to visit our sisters and brothers in Christ in Hacienda Vieja which is on the boarder with Honduras.     We chose the time of our visit to coincide with the annual memorial March and Mass to commemorate the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

 I saw the Pascal Mystery made real in Monseñor Romero’s life and in the lives of the people of Hacienda Vieja. First, about Oscar Romero. Many of you already know his story. He was a conservative priest, having studied in Rome. He was a good priest who rose through the ranks; a parish priest, editor of the Catholic paper, rector of the seminary, auxiliary bishop.

When he was made Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 the priests who supported liberation theology, who sided with the poor of the country were dismayed and the government was happy. He was a compromise candidate who was expected to keep his head down and not make waves.

Read More »

Honor Conscience. Defend Religious Freedom. Stand with American Nuns.

April 27, 2012

U.S. Sisters have recently come under fire from the Vatican.  Many of these sisters have been long standing partners of SHARE El Salvador. In the early 80s they stood with Salvadoran refugees looking for asylum, their support lead to the end of U.S. involvement in the civil war. For the past 30 years they have walked with organized poor communities in El Salvador defending their human rights and supporting community development. SHARE now wishes to express our support for the sisters. We are part of a national effort to write a statement (see below) which we will publish in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), as well as other online publications and are writing to invite you and your friends to join us. 

Please share this ad far and wide with friends, family, pastors, on facebook, the web, etc.



As people of faith, we reaffirm our love and gratitude to the thousands of women religious in the United States who have stood with and served the poor, healed the sick, sheltered the homeless, accompanied  immigrants, taught our children,  sought peace instead of war. 

By their many good works and adherence to Christian principles,  U.S. Sisters  have kept the church from moral bankruptcy. 

Yet today, these women and their communities have come under fire by the Vatican’s actions against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for their humanitarian stance on a variety of issues, including universal healthcare, the role of women in the church , the LGBT community, and economic justice.

In the spirit of Vatican II, we lay claim to the belief that “the church is all of us.”

We are all made in the image and likeness of God.  Authentic religious freedom supports the free exchange of ideas, and the primacy of conscience in pursuit of the Common Good.

We lament the Vatican’s effort to foreclose dialogue and to impose their authority on women religious and the broader community. We reject some  Bishops’ claim to be the ultimate authority and sole arbiters of truth. History has documented the fallibility of all human institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church.  We are deeply concerned by the timing of these actions and the perception they create:  namely that the Vatican and U.S. Bishops are seeking   to limit discernment and manipulate the upcoming political elections in the United States to advance a narrow political agenda.

Our democracy was founded on the principle of the separation of Church and State.

 Our church was founded on the principles of love, forgiveness and communion.

We invite all within and outside the Roman Catholic community to express support for our Sisters and their good works in service to the poor and for a more just, compassionate and humane world.  We call upon our leaders – especially religious leaders — to stand with our Sisters. We pray for the courage to live by the gospel invocation to  “Do Justice, love kindness, walk humbly with our God. “  (Micah 6)

For more information and ways to get involved  visit:

If you would like to add your name to the ad, please send the following information to or mail it to 2425 College Ave. Berkeley, CA 94704 by May 15th.

Name (as you want your name to appear on the ad)

Organizational Affiliation (Optional, for identification purposes only)


Telephone Number


If you would like to make a donation make your check payable to:  the SHARE Foundation/Stand with the Sisters.  Mail it to 2425 College Ave., Berkeley, CA, 94704

 You can also donate online at, and select “Support out Sister/NCR Ad” as the Program Designation.


El Mozote Massacre Case Heard at Inter-American Human Rights Court

April 23, 2012

Memorial for the victims of the El Mozote Massacre.

This morning, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Inter-American Human Rights Court opened its public hearing on the El Mozote massacre – one of the largest, most brutal massacres in Latin America. In December of 1981, members of the Salvadoran armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages rounding up, separating, and systematically killing men, women, and children. Through investigations, exhumations, and testimonies, Tutela Legal, the San Salvador Archdiocese’s human rights office and SHARE partner has identified 819 individuals killed in the massacre – over half under the age of twelve. Many of the soldiers responsible trained at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia in the U.S.

While the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has ruled on several cases of grave human rights abuses in El Salvador during the war, very few cases have been passed on to the Court, whose decisions are legally binding and viewed very seriously by Latin American governments. This will be the first time the court will give a ruling on the General Amnesty Law passed in March 1993, just five days after the U.N. Truth Commission released its report, From Madness to Hope, on human rights abuses during the war. The amnesty law provided complete blanket amnesty for everyone

Read More »

Hope and Frustration in Murder Trials of Salvadoran Environmentalists

April 19, 2012

Organizers flyer the Pacific Rim Mining Company sign in Sesutepeque, Cabañas. Photo courtesy of

On April 11, 2012 the trials for the murders of  two environmentalists in in Trinidad, Sesutepeque, Cabañas – including (Ramiro Rivera and Dora Sorto – who was 8 months pregnant at that time) came to an end with six members of the 18th Street gang being sentenced to between 30-145 years in prison.  Unfortunately, the conclusions of  prosecuter in the Court of Specialized Sentencing  were  incredibly disappointing.  According to prosecutor’s hypothesis, none of the murders are linked to environmental activism against mining. Instead, they blame personal fueds that existed between families in the area.  Following this logic,  5 suspects were relased. In a statement by released by the Environmental Comitee of Cabañas they denounced this decison.

Similar reasons were cited in the case of Marcelo Rivera, an  anti-mining activist who was murdered in Cabañas in 2009. While it’s true that there are tensions and conflict within communities impacted or threatened by mining, many of them have been caused by the proposal of mining projects. Some community members are enticed by the projects such as schools and soccer fields that mining companies have offered, while others have spoken out and organized against mining because of the destructive impacts for humans and the environment.

The following is an article from La Prensa Grafica outlining the prosecutions denial of a connection between anti-mining activity and the violence:

10 prosecuted for murders of environmentalists

Source: La Prensa Grafica By Suchit Chavez, Wednesday, April 11, 2012

On April 10th, the Court of Specialized Sentencing in San Salvador began a trial against 10 people accused of involvement in five murders, including two environmentalists, which occurred in 2009 in the small community of Trinidad, in the municipality of Sensuntepeque (Department of Cabañas).

The defendants, according to the prosecutors, are supposedly close to two families in the conflict.

Most of the violent deaths occurred in December 2009. Within days of each other, Ramiro Rivera, Felicita Argueta and Dora Alicia Sorto were killed in different parts of the Trinidad community. At the time Rivera and Sorto were identified as activists against active mining projects in the area. Months earlier in the same area, two relatives of a man linked to mining, Horacio Menjivar and his wife, Esperanza Velasco were also killed.

The chief prosecutor of the Organized Crime Unit (UNICCO), Rodolfo Delgado said yesterday that following his investigation, prosecutors ruled that the crimes were not related to the activity of the mining company.

According to Delgado, “these families had previous quarrels with each other.” Activity for and against mining exacerbated ​​these alleged attacks, he said.

Delgado declined to specify what the prior arguments were about, or if they had ballistic tests that connected the cases. The prosecutor stated this was due to the fact that the trial was still ongoing. He added, however, that two witnesses gave statements indicating there was allegedly a history of problems between the families.

The killing of Marcelo Rivera, another environmentalist, occurred in June 2009 in another town in Cabañas, and was disconnected by the chief prosecutor to the case currently being processed in the Court of Specialized Sentencing. In September 2010, three people were sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of Rivera.

 –Translation by SHARE staff

Salvadoran Supreme Court Accepts Claim of Unconstitutionality for Military Appointments

April 17, 2012

On February 21st 2012, The Salvadoran Supreme Court accepted a claim by the Social Initiative for Democracy and other civil society organizations challenging the constitutionality of the appointments of the Minister of Justice and Public Safety, David Mungía Payés  and Francisco Salinas, the Director of the National Civilian Police.  The Supreme Court admitted the constitutional claim and requested the President of the Republic, Mauricio Funes, justify the constitutionality of appointments.  

Probusqueda, Communities, and Government Representatives Commemorate the Day of the Disappeared Children

April 2, 2012

 Friday, March 29th, hundreds of men, women, and children gathered in Cuscatlan park together with Pro-Busqueda, an organization dedicated to searching for disappeared children, representatives of the Legislative Assembly, and the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s office to commemorate the Day of the Disappeared Children. Youth came from various schools, including the high school in Huisilapa. Many men and women from Chalatenango, including community members from Guarjila, Arcatao, and Nueva Trinidad participated as well. Everyone gathered in the shade just below the Monument to Truth and Memory, which holds over 30,000 names of civilians killed and disappeared during the war.

 The event began with formal speeches by Sigfrido Reyes, president of the Legislative Assembly, Juan José García, Viceminister of Salvadorans in the exterior, Erlinda Handal, Viceminister of Education, and a representative of the Human Rights Omsbudperson’s office, amongst others. Each of the speakers highlighted the importance of remembering the victims of forced disappearance, in order to give them dignity, and as one piece of the ongoing struggle for truth and justice. Congressman Sigfrido Reyes and Erlinda Handal called on the armed forces to open their archives to the National Committee in Search of Disappeared Children, to facilitate their search for truth.

Read More »

He Still Gives me Faith Now: Memories of Monseñor Romero

March 29, 2012

During his time as Archbishop, Monseñor Romero faithfully accompanied mothers and family members of the disappeared. Apolonia Sofia Escamía, one of the founding members of COMADRES, remembers his constant concern and guidance with tenderness.

 I grew up in the campo. I remember they paid us twenty-five cents a colon to work on the big haciendas. When I was seventeen, almost eighteen, my father helped run a strike. They were able to get the wages increased to seventy-five cents a day, but my father could no longer find work. In 1974 they killed my husband, but I did not understand why until later.

I used to see Monseñor Romero when I came to mass. He always mentioned and denounced Salvadorans that had been disappeared and killed. He spoke of the dead that showed up on the side of the road, that no one seemed to know who had killed. He asked that they be buried with a name and not in anonymous graves, so that mothers and wives looking for their husbands and children could find them.

Read More »

The Sanctuary Movement, An Historical Basis of Hope!

This March 24, 2012 – the 32nd  anniversary of the martyrdom of  Oscar Romero – we also mark the 30th anniversary of the public sanctuary movement.

Learn more about this movement with a set of oral histories entitled: The Sanctuary Movement, An Historical Basis of Hope!  The oral history was compiled and edited by Eileen Purcell, one of the original co-founders of the movement and former Executive Director of the SHARE Foundation.  This compilation includes the voices of our beloved Gus Schultz, Marilyn Chilcote, Bob McKenzie, Bill  O’Donnell, as well as organizer Bob Fitch and veteran fundraiser Bernie Mazel. These stories trace the origins of the sanctuary movement, from the Vietnam War to the wars in Central America. The full collection has been deposited at the UC Berkeley Graduate Theological Union (GTU) Library and is available to the public.  Add your voice to the archive!  Write and share your story by sending it to the SHARE Foundation Sanctuary Oral History  Project at!

Learn more about the history of the Sanctuary Movement and the history of SHARE here!




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