Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Fernando Cardenal’
“I have to leave, but I want to leave you with something from me: an oath before God. From today until the day I die, I dedicate my life to the liberation of the poor in the struggle for justice, and you are my inspiration.” Jesuit Father Fernando Cardenal declared these to his friends and neighbors in Medellin, Colombia, over 40 years ago after completing his final course for becoming a member of the Society of Jesus.
With the assistance of a translator, Fr. Cardenal explained to a packed audience at Boston College that his time spent living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Colombian city informed his entire life’s work as a Jesuit and political leader in his native Nicaragua.
Among his neighbors was a family with seven children, whom Cardenal referred to as his “little bodyguards” because they were always following him around. One time, when he returned to his Jesuit residence, Cardenal walked in to find the children eating the Jesuits’ garbage. He described the emotional impact this moment had on him. Cardenal said, “That was a big hit for me. I loved them. You can’t imagine what that did for me.”
He continued, “Many times, the only thing these children had to eat was a roll made from corn and hot water with brown sugar added to it. My neighborhood was like a big lake, and we were all under the water of suffering. Often, I didn’t want to leave the house. The people were always suffering and without hope. When I walked down the street, I kept repeating to myself, ‘Unbearable. Unbearable. Unbearable.’”
Cardenal realized, “I cannot accept that people live this way. As a human being and as a Christian, I cannot accept it. It has to change.”