Today, we reflect on Oscar Romero who was assassinated on this day 35 years ago. Mons. Romero (b. 1917) was a Catholic priest and was named the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. His appointment was welcomed by the Salvadoran government, but many priests aligning themselves with Marxism were disappointed, as were progressive priests who feared his conservative reputation would hurt liberation theology’s commitment to the poor. However, progressive Jesuit priest Rutillo Grande’s assassination had a profound impact on Romero. “When I looked at Rutillo lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path’”. Despite his urgings, the government refused to investigate and the censored press was silent.
Over the next three years, he increasingly spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture as civil war took place and a revolutionary government came to power. Romero criticized the US for giving military aid to the new government, warning that it would “undoubtedly sharpen the injustice and the political repression inflicted on the organized people, whose struggle has often tbeen their most basic human right.” His direct plea to Jimmy Carter was ignored, and military aid continued. Romero’s increasing humanitarian efforts received international notice, but also made him a target. He was assassinated while celebrating Mass at a hospital chapel. His funeral, on March 30, 1980, was attended by over 250,000 people. He was declared Martyr by Pope Francis on February 3, 2015. For today, take a moment to reflect on Mons. Romero’s thoughts on Peace:
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism.
Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty