WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
9 Jan 2019 | WOLA Statement

Remembering Rev. Charles L. Currie

Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J., a longtime advocate for human rights and social justice in the United States and in Latin America, passed away on Friday, January 4.

A Georgetown professor and later president of two Jesuit universities, Fr. Currie coordinated Georgetown’s response to the 1989 slaying of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador in 1989. He traveled there often, building strong relationships with the Jesuit University and with the people of that country. He worked tirelessly with U.S. officials and lawmakers—particularly Massachusetts Representative Joe Moakley and his then-assistant and now Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA)—to end U.S. military assistance and forge U.S. support for the peace process, using his personal connections and the extensive Jesuit alumni network.

His close ties to the human rights and peace groups engaged with El Salvador, including WOLA, helped ensure that the sacrifice of the Jesuits and their companions contributed to a negotiated resolution of the civil war.

Fr. Currie’s involvement in the peace process was the beginning of a long and deep commitment to El Salvador and to the region. He was an official observer at the 1991 trial of the soldiers accused of direct responsibility for the Jesuit murders and at El Salvador’s first post war elections in 1994. Fr. Currie joined WOLA’s board in 2002, and served as its chair in 2008.

He traveled with WOLA delegations (and Representative McGovern) to El Salvador on numerous occasions as well as to Cuba. In 2005 he joined a WOLA trip to El Salvador with McGovern and former Senator George McGovern for a 25th anniversary memorial remembrance of the 1980 slaying of four American churchwomen. In 2009 he traveled with a delegation that met with El Salvador’s first center-left president. In December 2017, he was part of a small WOLA delegation to the isolated rural community of El Mozote in El Salvador, the site of a particularly brutal massacre in 1981, where he met with community members pursuing justice in the case and delivered moving remarks. (See the photo below.)

WOLA remembers Fr. Charles Currie, S.J. for his warmth and his abiding friendship. We honor his skill as an advocate and his sustained dedication to the struggle for justice and peace.

Fr. Currie, presente!

Geoff Thale
Vice President for Programs, WOLA

We will be collecting remembrances of Fr. Charles Currie from his many friends and colleagues in the WOLA community. Please send your stories of Fr. Currie and his work to [email protected].

Fr. Currie and María Julia Hernández prominent human rights advocate and founding director of Tutela Legal, the human rights office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador.