John Paul II and Oscar Arnulfo Romero
Days before his murder Archbishop Romero told a reporter, "You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it.
Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."
"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."
'While it is clear that our Church has been the victim of persecution during the last three years, it is even more important to observe the reason for the persecution. ...The persecution comes about because of the Church's defense of the poor, for assuming the destiny of the poor."
From a letter to President Carter: "You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people."
"A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth - beware! - is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel's call."
"When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises."
The voice of this reluctant prophet was silenced in 1980 when he was shot in the heart while saying Mass.
His words and his story continue to speak the Gospel to us today.
Photo by Octavio Duran
From the News March, 1980 in the Washington Post:
March 26th, 1980 The U.S. Government Reacts. The accusation of direct Cuban involvement came one day after the assassination in El Salvador or Archbishop Oscar Romero, a popular figure and nominee for the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. There was no suggestion that Cubans were involved in the killing of the archbishop.
Romero himself had recently written President Carter asking him not to supply more military aid to the ruling junta until it succeeded in stopping the violence that has racked El Salvador for many months. ...
March 28, 1980 Treadmill of Heroism "Romero had the only uncensored voice in San Salvador, a small radio station. It broadcast the names of people who were missing. It would happen that a man would be taken off and never heard from again, and his family would ask a priest for help in tracing him. These things soon wound up in the archbishop's lap. He wanted answers, why people were arrested and what was happening to them." ...
March 31, 1980 40 Killed at Romero's Funeral As the panicked crowds surged outside, and many rushed into the already packed cathedral, Romero's body was taken to a crypt below the sanctuary and buried.
The archbishop was killed by a gunman Monday night as he was saying a memorial mass for a friend's mother. He died within minutes.
A highly popular and controversial figure and outspoken critic of the military that has long dominated this Central American nation, Romero was looked upon as one of the few people who could keep the violence-ridden society from plunging into all-out civil war. ...
Links to learn more:
Task Force on Central America An excerpt from the book: Oscar Arnulfo Romero: Prophet to the Americas by Margaret Swedish
A Remembrance Salt of the Earth magazine's remembrance of Romero.
The Reluctant Conversion of Oscar Romero Memories of the archbishop from March, 2000, the 20th anniversary of his assassination. Sojourners Magazine. By Carmen Chacon, Salvador Carranza, Juan Macho, Inocencio Alas, Carmen Elena Hernandez, Maria Isabel Figueroa, Jorge Lara-Braud
UN Truth Commission Report on Murder of Romero.
Romero Statue Brief bio and photo of new statue of Romero in Westminster Abby.
Boston College Powerpoint Slide show on life of Romero from Boston College's site on their Romero Scholarship.
Seven Sermons of Oscar Romero Portions of seven Romero homilies - from the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City.
San Romero Online Discussion Bi-lingual reflection and discussion group on Oscar Romero. The forum includes links to Romero websites.
Foundation for Self-Suffiency in Latin America The Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America (FSSCA) works in partnership and solidarity with low-income communities in Central America organized to achieve environmental sustainability, economic self-sufficiency, social justice, and peace.
The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador
The Four Church Women An excerpt from the book: A Message Too Precious to be Silenced by Margaret Swedish.
El Salvador Extensive materials on El Salvador from the online encyclopedia, Britannica.com.