Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until he was assassinated in 1980. He was initially regarded as a conservative choice as archbishop, but he became increasingly outspoken about human rights violations in El Salvador – particularly after the murder of his close friend Father Rutilio Grande in March 1977.
During his three years as archbishop, Romero repeatedly denounced violence and spoke out on behalf of the victims of the civil war. In a time of heavy press censorship, his weekly radio broadcasts were often the only way people could find out the truth about the atrocities that were happening in their country. He defended the right of the poor to demand political change, a stance which made him a troublesome adversary for the country’s rulers.
He was also a great man of prayer. Faithful to personal worship and prayer.
Great defender of life from the womb. A bishop who loved the poor, God and all the millennial teachings of the Catholic Church
Archbishop Romero was one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century, who deserves to be commemorated alongside the likes of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi as a peacemaker who sacrificed his life standing up to injustice. The world today desperately needs more figures like Romero – leaders with the courage, faith and love to stand up for the poor against injustice.
Romero is, in particular, an inspirational figure to hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world. He didn’t simply talk about the need to love your neighbour, but courageously named the injustices that plagued his country. He reminded us that Christ is found in people living in poverty, and that we cannot ignore the suffering of our brothers and sisters in need.
We can all celebrate Romero’s legacy by following his example: by challenging injustice wherever we see it and by refusing to stay silent about the issues that keep people in poverty.
Archbishop Romero was shot dead on 24 March 1980, aged 62, while celebrating Mass. In the ensuing decade, some 70,000 Salvadorans were killed in the civil war.
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