Priest Under Fire:
Padre David Rodríguez, the Catholic Church, and El Salvador's Revolutionary Movement

Peter M. Sánchez

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"A valuable book that goes beyond the specifics of one priest's life to provide insight into the Salvadoran civil war."--Arthur Leigh Binford, coeditor of Landscapes of Struggle: Politics, Society, and Community in El Salvador

"The fascinating story of Father David Rodríguez sheds light on half a century of El Salvador's troubled history and helps to understand the impact of liberation theology."--Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, coauthor of Modernizing Minds in El Salvador: Education Reform and the Cold War, 1960-1980

"Documents Rodriguez's life--an important contribution in and of itself--and shows how religiously grounded leaders like Rodríguez were crucial to the success of revolutionary movements."--Anna Peterson, coeditor of Christianity, Social Change, and Globalization in the Americas

"Sánchez challenges fellow specialists by introducing new evidence and placing Father David in the context of social-movement scholarship. Priest Under Fire is an important and engaging contribution."--Erik Ching, author of Authoritarian El Salvador: Politics and the Origins of the Military Regimes, 1880-1940


David Rodriguez, or Padre David as he is known throughout El Salvador, is a diocesan priest who followed the Second Vatican Council’s doctrinal mandate to advocate for the poor and oppressed. In the 1970s, he joined the largest guerilla organization in El Salvador, the FPL (Popular Liberation Forces) and would later be a member of the resulting political party, the FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front). Along with other progressive clergy committed to liberation theology, Padre David helped drive forward the country’s popular movement.

In Priest Under Fire, Peter Sánchez tells the story of how one priest joined a movement to help his people and his country. He provides much-needed insight into both the Salvadoran civil war and the Catholic Church-influenced grassroots political movements, showing that they continue to inform Latin America today.

Peter M. Sánchez is professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of Panama Lost?: U.S. Hegemony, Democracy, and the Canal.

Fascinating. . . . An excellent addition to the literature on liberation theology and politics in El Salvador and throughout the continent. Journal of Jesuit Studies

Due to its intimate portrait of Fr. David based on over a hundred interviews with both the priest himself and many of his contemporaries, one receives a portrait of war, revolution, and social movement from the inside. . . . An excellent contribution to understanding the role of the Catholic Church in El Salvador during its most turbulent period. Journal of Church and State

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