In his 28 years as a priest in El Salvador, Father Manuel Acosta has witnessed his share of violence. He lived through the killings of Catholic clergy, men and women religious, catechists and countless lay ministers persecuted during the country’s civil conflict in the 1980s. He has also lived through decades of gang aggression against El Salvador’s poor.
But he’s still visibly shaken when he speaks about the recent spate of violence, an unexplained killing of three priests in less than three years. All were his former students.
“I had no words,” said Acosta, a professor of theology at San Salvador’s José Simeón Cañas Central American University, known as the UCA, recalling his thoughts Aug. 7, the morning he heard about the latest killing of yet another former student. This time, Father Ricardo Cortez was found dead after being shot in the head.
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