Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Today, March 24, is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. The National Catholic Reporter has a couple of stories on his life and death, on their website. Appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, he began as a quiet, conservative, prelate. When an activist priest in his archdiocese was killed by a death squad, it opened his eyes to the poverty and oppression that existed in his country. He became a fiery prophet for the poor, calling the government to task for its brutal tactics, and for ignoring the plight of the people.

This did not endear him to the rich and powerful of his country, nor with his fellow bishops. Complaints about him must have reached the ears of Rome, and they were not too happy with him. Father John Dear SJ, in his column, reported that Pope John Paul II was ready to remove Archbishop Romero on the day he was shot. The irony is that when the Pope visited El Salvador, he prayed at the tomb of Archbishop Romero.

Romero was a strong bishop, a forceful preacher, who cared for the poor and tried as best he could to protect them from abuse and exploitation. He is the type of bishop we could use today; instead we have bishops who are more concerned with protecting the institution, than its people.

For me, he will always be the Latin American “Thomas Becket.” I pray that he will be recognized officially as a saint.

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