The Jesuits of Tarahumara, faithful to mystery and justice

In memory of Javier Campos, SJ and Joaquín Mora, SJ

This Monday, the prayer of Ignatius of Loyola, who inherited the Jesuits, was fulfilled in an atrocious and painful way: “Put me with your son” (with Jesus on the cross, in self-sacrifice, at the moment of abandonment and mystery, walking to the side of the underdogs, vindicating the stoned women). The cowardly triple homicide perpetrated inside a Catholic temple in Cerocachui, in the Sierra Tarahumara, is the result of that option that the Jesuit missionaries have embraced since its foundation in the 16th century.

The descendants of Father Ignacio, in all ages, while communicating the faith, instill hope, knowledge, the arts, the value of freedom, irrefutable human dignity, the same from a university campus as from the mountains or the territories where indigenous people are harassed and expelled; from walking with migrants and refugees and even in factories and unions. Their vast training in spirituality, humanities and sciences, makes them suitable to be the voice of many and many who do not have it, or who are not heard. And that vocation normally threatens the powers and interests of those who dispute them.

And the fate of the messengers of justice, human dignity and true hope founded on a transcendent mystery is usually persecution and martyrdom.

The murder of missionaries Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín Mora Salazar, with decades of service to the Rarámuri in the Sierra Tarahumara and the mestizo population of Cerocahui, whom they accompanied spiritually and in defense of their rights and territories, is comparable to the martyrdom of the Jesuits of the Reductions of Paraguay, in the 18th century; to the persecution of the Marquis de Croix, Viceroy of New Spain in 1767; to the execution of Father Miguel Agustín Pro in the Mexican 20th century, or to the massacre perpetrated against the rector philosopher Ignacio Ellacuría, five other university Jesuits and 2 employees in the early hours of January 16, 1989 at the José Simeón Cañas Central American University in El Salvador . All of them have a common denominator: they defended to the death the dignity of the voiceless and their inalienable rights.

This time in Tarahumara, the bullets went too far and hit the target. But it is not the first time that Jesuit missionaries and the communities they serve have felt threatened. Jerónimo Hernández, “jXel”, and Gonzalo Rosas lived through it under torture and prison, in Chiapas, collateral victims of the persecution of the Zapatista Army in 1997.

The Jesuits and the team who have been working for 25 years in the community radio station of Huayacocotla, Veracruz, have also experienced it, giving voice to Nahuas and Otomíes.

Although the first presence of the Jesuits in Tarahumara dates back to the 17th century, it was during the 20th century that, erected as a mission, attached to the local diocese, parishes, boarding schools, cultural workshops, clinics, human rights centers, and the accompaniment in their ancestral rituals and ceremonies. Many memorable Jesuits have passed through these lands: Luis Verplanken, whose anthropological photographic record and the social works he founded are a great reference for culture in the Creel region; Ricardo Robles Oyarzun, “El Ronco”, “his texts about the Rarámuris are essential references for all anthropology scholars and those who want to know this ethnic group better”, wrote Miguel Concha in La Jornada on the occasion of his death; Pedro Juan de Velasco Rivero, whose historical-anthropological study “Dance or Die”, constitutes a portentous record of religion and resistance to the domination of the “swift-footed” people; Jesús Martínez Aguirre and José Llaguno Farías, both bishops of the Diocese of Tarahumara and members of the Ignatian order, and Javier “el Pato” Ávila, defender of indigenous human rights and who today calls for the return of the disappeared bodies of their murdered brothers.

He is the one who for more than a decade has been denouncing the control exercised throughout the mountains by organized crime, drug traffickers, to put it plainly, but also by groups that dispute indigenous territories and their forest resources, in the face of passivity, if not complicity, of all levels of government.

“It takes a lot of courage and a lot of love for others to work for life with those who lack the essentials every day and who must fight tooth and nail to obtain it. Not everyone can tolerate the pain of seeing their pain, the sadness of hearing the stories they tell, or seeing their living conditions, which seem so difficult to overcome and in which, frequently, so little will is seen from the rest of the people. society to help them. Many do not tolerate it and turn their eyes away, close their ears, go elsewhere, ”wrote the novelist Martín Solares on his Facebook account.

And a student as he was of Father Joaquín Mora at the Tampico Cultural Institute, he offers us this beautiful testimony: “I don’t think anyone on this planet can say that he sought any luxury (…) Without a doubt he has been the most silent of all the Jesuits. that I have had the fortune to meet. There was one way to make him smile right away, and that was to ask him about the Tarahumara mountains, one of the first places the Jesuits sent him to help the community. As much as he loved Tamaulipas, he always dreamed of going back there.”

The provincial of the Jesuits in Mexico, Gerardo Moro Madrid, updates in one sentence that mystery involved in Father Ignacio’s request “Put me with your son”: “We cannot forget the thousands of sisters and brothers who are suffering from this (the unstoppable violence in Mexico), the thousands of families who are suffering what is up to us today, as a religious order, also to suffer”.

The Jesuits Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar were faithful to that option until death, they have died for their radical adherence to an ideal and a mystery that transcends them and transcends us; Will the murderers find transcendence and redemption? And will we and the generations to come achieve a Mexico of justice and peace? Hugs until eternity, dear brothers.

[email protected]


Art, Ideas and People Editor

Leave a Comment