Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 5, 2010
Romero was unfazed by death threats
Christians mark 30th anniversary of murder of Salvadoran archbishop
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Days before his murder, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador told a reporter, "You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it.
"Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish."
The voice of this reluctant prophet was silenced in 1980 when he was shot in the heart while celebrating Mass.
Thirty years after his death, Romero's story continues to speak the Gospel to many today. To Salvadorans, he is a saint, regardless of canonization.
Some 150 people, many of them Salvadorans, gathered at the chapel of Providence Centre March 26 to mark the 30th anniversary of the archbishop's martyrdom. Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, assisted by Deacon Jose Huezo, presided at the Eucharistic service. Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish choir provided the music.
The Social Justice Office of the Edmonton Archdiocese, the Ecclesial Base Communities, the Sisters of Providence, Hosanna Lutheran Church and a number of Catholic parishes, including Our Lady of Guadalupe, sponsored the event. Similar services were held in El Salvador and around the world.
Romero served as archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until his death on March 24, 1980. During his tenure, he spoke against military oppression and called on the army to stop the killing. Many of his priests were killed for siding with the poor.
ROMERO SPOKE OUT
Romero attacked poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. His 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.
Deacon Huezo, who is Salvadoran, said Romero's appearance on the scene re-energized the oppressed masses. "He taught us how to trust in God. He was for us the light, a ray of hope."
In 1980, a right-wing group assassinated Romero as he held the consecrated host up during Mass. This provoked an international outcry for reform in El Salvador.
MacNeil, who met and spoke to Romero at the Latin American Bishops Conference in Puebla, Mexico, in the 1970s, described the martyred Salvadoran Church leader as humble and somewhat shy.
But when it really mattered, Romero rose to the occasion. "Archbishop Romero stands tall among the prophets of the early Church," MacNeil said in his homily.
Some have said the political left manipulated Romero. But MacNeil said no one but God manipulated the Salvadoran archbishop. "He was faithful to God, faithful to the Gospels and faithful to his people."
Describing Romero as a prophet, a martyr and a saint, MacNeil said the late archbishop's message is still valid today. "What would he say to us this evening? He would probably remind us to love God, to love one another and to love the poor."
Speaking at the end of the Mass, Bob McKeon, director of the archdiocesan Social Justice Office, described Romero as one who through his words, life and death took the words of the Gospel seriously and challenged his Church to do the same.
"Each of us, you and me, are challenged tonight by Romero's example to take the Gospel's words of good news to the poor seriously and to make these words come alive in the Church," McKeon said.
"Romero proclaimed and lived a message of hope. We need to speak today loudly and confidently this message of Christian hope wherever we are, especially in times when such hope appears distant or even absent in our lives and in our communities. He certainly did."
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