Bishop Oscar Romero from El Salvador: now a saintly human right defender

May 23, 2015

Whether one believes in sainthood or not, it is not difficult to rejoice with Pax Christi International about the 23 May beatification of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero who became known for his persistent search for truth, justice and reconciliation in the late seventies in conflict-torn El Salvador. He was shot dead while celebrating mass on 24 March 1980. The assassin has never been identified, but it is widely believed that the assassins were members of a death squad led by former Major Roberto D’Aubuisson. 

By the time of his death, Archbishop Romero had built up an enormous following among Salvadorans. He did this largely through broadcasting his weekly sermons across El Salvador. In these sermons, he listed disappearances, tortures, murders and much more each Sunday. This was followed by an hour-long speech on radio the following day, making him one of the main sources in El Salvador about what was happening.

Archbishop Romero denounced the persecution of members of the Catholic Church who had worked on behalf of the poor:

In less than three years, more than fifty priests have been attacked, threatened, calumniated. Six are already martyrs–they were murdered. Some have been tortured and others expelled [from the country]. Nuns have also been persecuted. The archdiocesan radio station and educational institutions that are Catholic or of a Christian inspiration have been attacked, threatened, intimidated, even bombed. Several parish communities have been raided. If all this has happened to persons who are the most evident representatives of the Church, you can guess what has happened to ordinary Christians, to the campesinos, catechists, lay ministers, and to the ecclesial base communities. There have been threats, arrests, tortures, murders, numbering in the hundreds and thousands….

But it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. Not any and every priest has been persecuted, not any and every institution has been attacked. That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people’s defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.” (Óscar Romero in a speech at the Univeristy of Louvain in Belgium on 2 February 1980, shortly before his death)

The United Nations General Assembly in 2010 proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. In its decision, the Assembly honoured Mgr Romero’s commitment in “denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.”

Two awards were established in his name:

one in 1§986 by the Houston-based Rothko Chapel [http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/oscar-romero-award] and the other in 1998 by University of Dayton: the Archbishop Oscar Romero Award for Leadership in Service to Human Rights.

Statement: Pax Christi celebrates Bishop Martyr Oscar Romero – Independent Catholic News.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: