“The church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being . . . a defender of the rights of the poor . . . a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society . . . that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.” – Saint Bishop Oscar Romero
In 2003, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez gathered bishops and clergy from across Central America to meet with Faith in Action Founder, Fr. John Baumann to explore faith-based organizing as a means to live in this legacy of Romero. That meeting gave birth to COFOA (communidades organizadas en fe para accion), which has been working with communities in one district in El Salvador to secure public improvements and provide health and employment services.
Today, surging violence, government corruption, and a growing environmental crisis are forcing people to flee their country. Striving to help more people in their struggle, COFOA is building its power by bringing organizing to other parts of the country. Last month, Fr. Octavio Cruz, a Romero colleague and director of social pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of San Salvador, opened the door for COFOA to work with 180 catholic parishes. The first national issue they are tackling is the water crisis. As a vital member of a national coalition, COFOA is mobilizing thousands of people to prevent the privatization of water and secure a constitutional amendment proclaiming water a basic human right. By year’s end, COFOA hopes to be working in half of the country. It is our vision to not only expand our effort to all of El Salvador, but to also respond to faith leaders in Guatemala and Honduras who seek our partnership.
COFOA is grateful for the support provided for its organizing journey these past ten years and looks forward to more collaborative efforts with Faith in Action networks in the United States to wage a common fight on the economic, environmental and migration policies that impact all of us. We believe that we are stronger together as Faith in Action.