Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 30, 2009
San Romero celebrated for his advocacy, bravery
Archdiocese remembers the valour, spirituality of Archbishop Romero
In 1942, Romero was ordained a priest in Rome. He moved to San Miguel, El Salvador, working as a parish priest for over 20 years. During that time, he promoted various apostolic groups.
In 1970, he was appointed auxilary bishop to San Salvador Archbishop Luis Chavez. He took up his appointment as bishop of Santiago de María in December 1975.
In 1977, he was appointed the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. His appointment was met with surprise, dismay and even incredulity.
While this appointment was welcomed by the government, many leftist priests were disappointed.
Still Romero always defended the rights of the people, and showed utmost humility, said Denaux.
“I will give you an example. When he was named archbishop, he went to live in a tiny room in a hospital for cancer patients. This was no bishop’s palace.
“Two cardinals coming from Europe told him that he should have a much better house because the reputation and the image of the Church were affected by an archbishop living in such a poor environment.”
Many priests in the country sided with the people during the country’s time of internal strife. During Romero’s three years as archbishop, eight priests were assassinated by the army for defending the rights of the people.
“He was archbishop at a very difficult time. It was during the last years of the military dictatorship.
“Slowly but surely the people were rising, beginning to organize to get that military dictatorship out. As a result, the military began to repress the people. Everything was repressed with great severity,” said Denaux.
As archbishop, Romero witnessed ongoing violations of human rights and started a group that spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victims of the Salvadoran civil war.
Romero attacked poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. His new radicalism brought him international attention.
Every Sunday, his sermon was broadcast on the radio throughout the whole country. His sermons listed the violence that had occurred. All of the population, including the military, listened to his sermons.
“In the country which was poor and the people were constantly repressed, there was one voice that stood out for them,” said Denaux.
In 1980, Romero was assassinated by a right-wing group as he held the consecrated host up during a Mass. This provoked an international outcry for reform in El Salvador.
“Each year there is an event to record Romero’s death and celebrate that together, but as well to look at the conditions of the country. This is a special year because there have been elections in January and in March,” said Denaux.
In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero. Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God.
The process continues.
He is considered by some the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as “San Romero” by Catholic workers in El Salvador.
“He is not only important for El Salvador. He is for the whole world. He has a very special place in the country,” said Denaux.
He is one of the ten 20th century martyrs depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London.
“I am telling the people here today that Msgr. Romero is already canonized by the people, not by Rome,” he concluded.
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