The Shallow Grave This is the image of the Church Women, Dorothy Kazel, OSU, Ita Ford, MM, Maura Clarke, MM, and Jean Donovan, being pulled out of the shallow grave on the spot where they were found in El Salvador after being murdered during the Civil War in 1980.
Acting on Conscience Images are truth tellers for me. The 1980 image of the broken, raped and murdered bodies of Dorothy Kazel and the Churchwomen being pulled out of the shallow grave in El Salvador continues to tell the truth even in 2020. There is no getting around this image. It would be so easy in this North American culture to insulate myself from the destruction and devastation of what happened to the women and the Salvadoran people, and from what is happening now to the suffering peoples in my own country and within this Earth community. But Dorothy Kazel’s death tore open my small, insulated, protected world and showed me the suffering of my brothers and sisters and that of creation. Even more, it impels me to speak out about her death and so many others; to do anything less would make me, as a U.S. citizen, complicit in the suffering of the Salvadoran people and now, of innocent people being killed in our country’s war on terror and on our borders. These images from the past are images of truth living in me now. Today, images of war and torture continue to abound, and in them I see history repeating itself. How much more suffering will occur before the cycle of violence is ended? I continue to ask myself why Dorothy died, what purpose her death held, if today the same school (the SOA/WHINSEC) that trained her killers, is still open and training soldiers to be puppets in governments that keep their own people poor? Dorothy’s death and the thousands of other deaths and disappearances taught us nothing, if today the same U.S. government is still training soldiers the skills of torture and war. Today the Ursulines of Cleveland still seek the whole truth regarding the brutal deaths of the Churchwomen and the killings of 76,000 Salvadorans who died during the civil war. The truth must be told in order for justice and mercy, healing and reconciliation to follow, bringing transformation to all of those involved in these deaths. Dorothy believed in non-violence. She struggled with non-violence as she saw those she loved slain and left at her door as a warning. Still, in the midst of this terror, Dorothy and the Churchwomen proclaimed the gospel message of hope, love, respect, and dignity for all. As Dorothy was preparing to return to El Salvador from Cleveland in the summer of 1980, she was hopeful, full of life, and especially full of love for the people of El Salvador. She loved them unconditionally. This love motivated her to the end and is her legacy and challenge to me: to speak the truth with steadfast love even in the time of war and oppression. -- Diane Therese Pinchot, OSU