March 2017 Newsletter Executive Director and News from El Salvador
From the Peace Mission’s
By Mary K. Stevenson
Serve the Poor
Work Through the Local Church
Bishop Pilla’s Guidance
These two phrases, serve the poor, and, work through the local Church, are the simple foundations of COAR. They spring from the foundation that Bishop Pilla re-established after the tragic murders on December 2, 1980. Though the Cleveland Latin American Mission (CLAM) Team had been working in El Salvador since 1964, the Salvadoran civil war and the murder of the Four North American Churchwomen, including CLAM Team members Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU, and Miss Jean Donovan, forced the Team to reexamine their role and goals in the country. As always in the Church, the big decisions ultimately belong to the Bishop. His is the responsibility.
Bishop Pilla talked to the Team members and the people in El Salvador, including Bl. Romero’s replacement, Archbishop Rivera y Damas. He affirmed that the Team served the poor and that it worked as part of the local Church. This was also true of COAR, known initially as the Zaragoza Refugee Center. Though Bishop Pilla retired in 2006 his support of COAR continues to this day. But it is we who owe him: for his example of courage and fortitude. As the article, right, explains, working with local institutions (the Church!), committed to long -term service, is the most effective way to serve a population after a civil war. After 37 years, and counting, we know that Bishop Pilla had it right.
The Economist –
Jan 7th 2017
How to Fix Failed States
(bullet points added for emphasis)
- After a civil war ends somewhere, Western donors often pour in more money than the damaged state can absorb, and pull back when results disappoint.
- NGOs parachute in, poach the best staff with higher wages and form a costly parallel state that will one day pack up and go.
- This undermines national institutions.
- It would be better if donors scaled up their largesse gradually, channeled it through national coffers where possible and stuck around for the long run.
(So, COAR supporters, you should recognize your contribution to the most sustainable and effective means of helping the country, as well as its children, reclaim their futures.)