The friars of El Salvador in the field for the 22nd ecological walk

“We call for environmental justice for the protection of our common home” was the motto of the 22nd ecological walk, which took place on 7 June in San Salvador, the capital of the small state of El Salvador in Central America.The coordination of this annual event, which last year saw some seven thousand people gather in the streets, was carried out by the Franciscan friars of the JPIC (Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation) office in El Salvador.There are five friars at the heart of the JPIC office in El Salvador today (two priest friars and three lay friars) who accompany the entire process every year, leading up to the walk, through moments of prayer and participation with environmental and civil society movements.It involves four or five months of preparation through what is now known as the “synodal method”, a term that seems new but which the JPIC office in El Salvador has been using for more than 20 years.So, there is a process of listening by the office, where the ecological problem is inevitably brought to light.

“This listening, in the light of Franciscan spirituality, in harmony with the spirituality of other historic Churches, leads to a common path of objectives to be built: the ecological walk, where everyone takes ownership of the mission to be carried out,” Br. Víctor Triminio, OFM, of El Salvador recounts. The friars always try to act as bridges and mediators between the various associations and movements so that the walk does not lose its focus: a peaceful event born out of an ecological spirituality, which has a concrete historical impact on the country’s legislation and environmental policy.

Other Franciscan friars also participated in the Ecological Walk on 7 June, accompanying their parishioners from all over the country: San Francisco Gotera, Santiago de María, El Pepeto, Guadalupe, Planes de Renderos and many other places.

“We are satisfied with the work that has been done,” explain the friars of the El Salvador JPIC office.”Despite the high probability of rain, the silent tension of the pandemic that has not yet been overcome, and the state of emergency still in force in the country, the people responded in great numbers in the ecological walk“.

Moreover, for the first time in the history of this event, it was possible to reach the presidential house to hand over the Charter of Environmental Claims. In the past, one had to stop at the barricade set up by the officers for the Maintenance of Order.

Written in the letter delivered to the presidential house were all the requests of the peaceful protesters. These included strengthening and respecting public institutions for environmental management, increasing public investment to guarantee the human right to water and sanitation as fundamental principles for a dignified life and adequate health, and stopping unregulated urban development for commercial purposes at the expense of forest cover in the mountain ranges.”These are the requests we have been making for decades and which we hope will be heard,” concludes Br. Víctor.”We have asked the government to create a space for direct dialogue to implement the actions necessary to build a just, equitable and sustainable country“.