Saturday, March 19, 2016

Martyrs for Creation?

Earlier this week I mused about saints, and whether it makes much sense to use the term. Well, I'm at it again. What about the term martyrs? The word martyr means "witness" but it came to be associated with those who gave up their lives as faithful witnesses for their faith. Those who immediately come to mind are early Christians killed in the Roman Coliseum by ravening beasts. The only problem is that there is no documentation of any Christians dying there in that manner.

Many Christians have been killed for their faith, more in the 20th century than in all the previous centuries combined.

Recently environmental activist and Roman Catholic Berta Caceres was shot and killed.  The Catholic Herald reports her death this way:
An outspoken environmental activist in Honduras was murdered in her own home, sparking outrage and offering another example of the impunity and violence in the Central American country.Berta Caceres, who won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize – an award considered the Nobel for ecological actions – was murdered at around 1am on Thursday in what police initially called an attempted robbery, but family members denounced as politically motivated murder, according to media reports. The Italian newspaper La Stampa hailed her as a “martyr of Laudato Si'”, the Pope’s environment encyclical.

A Lenca indigenous leader, Caceres attracted international attention for her opposition to a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River in western Honduras, where construction crews arrived unannounced almost a decade ago. A court order banned her from the area and she endured death threats, but successfully led protests that thwarted the project.

“She was a woman committed to fighting for the protection of the environment and indigenous people’s territories and the common struggle,” said Fr Ismael Moreno, director of Radio Progreso and the Jesuit-run Team for Reflection, Research and Communicatio.

Caceres knew she was vulnerable and had received death threats. She was determined not to be frightened away from the causes dear to her heart, but she paid the ultimate price.

What do you think? Should someone be considered a martyr for losing his or her life because of activism for the planet? Are there any causes in the world which would be worth risking your life for? Would your faith be a factor in your decision-making?

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