Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Remembering Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez after 30 years ago today!

Servant of God Archbishop Romero, you were truly a man with words,remembering you 30 years later Archbishop and I hope someday that the Vatican will recoginzed your words and make you the patron saint of El Salvador!

The first 2 pictures of Archbishop Oscar Romero with Pope Paul VI!

This is an Aug. 1977 photo of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. The outspoken church leader who was killed in 1980 as he celebrated Mass, has become as polarizing in death as he was in life. The campaign to make him a Roman Catholic saint appears to be languishing, as Vatican officials privately debate whether Romero was a martyr for the faith or for the political left.

Remembering Oscar Romero, 30 Years Later:

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Romero. As a bishop in El Salvador, he regularly denounced the brutal violence and oppression sponsored by the military-led right-wing government during the nation's civil war. Originally Romero made it a point to stay out of politics. However after Jesuit priest and friend Rutilio Grande was killed for calling for land reform on behalf of peasant farmers, Romero was motivated to take action. He was the only one to speak out and demand an investigation of Grande's death. The government predictably did nothing, but Romero continued to be vocal in his defense of the poor, speaking out against poverty, violence, terror tactics and overall injustices that were routinely being committed by the state. He gained international fame, which he used to argue that supporting the Salvadoran government was to support violence.

On March 24, Romero proclaimed in his last homily, "One must not love oneself so much, as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and those that fend off danger will lose their lives." Moments later, he was gunned down by a death squad. Citizens and civil organizations have commemorated Romero's death over the years, but this year is the first time in history that the Salvadoran government has recognized the tragedy. In fact on March 4 the Salvadoran National Assembly declared March 24 to be Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Day. President Mauricio Funes issued a public apology on behalf of the Salvadoran state for the assassination of Romero. Ironically President Funes is the nation's first leftist president and sided with Romero during the war. There is a strong campaign for Romero to be canonized and he is often referred to as San Romero. He has not become a saint yet, but the late Pope John Paul II did bestow upon him the title of Servant of God. Regardless, his legacy lives on for the people of El Salvador and for the marginalized and voiceless who struggle for justice.

Days before his murder Archbishop Romero 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 church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being . . . a defender of the rights of the poor . . . a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society . . . that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history."

'While it is clear that our Church has been the victim of persecution during the last three years, it is even more important to observe the reason for the persecution. ...The persecution comes about because of the Church's defense of the poor, for assuming the destiny of the poor."
From a letter to President Carter: "You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people."
"A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth - beware! - is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel's call."

"When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises."

March 26th, 1980 The Washington Post
From News Services Wednesday, March 26, 1980 ; Page A26
The United States yesterday accused Cuba of directly contributing to violence in El Salvador by sending weapons and leftist insurgents into the country to try to topple the civilian-military junta backed by the United States.
The charge was made by Carter administration officials who sought congressional approval to supply military equipment worth $5.7 million to El Salvador's ruling junta.
The accusation of direct Cuban involvement came one day after the assassination in El Salvador or Archbishop Oscar Romero, a popular figure and nominee for the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. There was no suggestion that Cubans were involved in the killing of the archbishop.
Romero himself had recently written President Carter asking him not to supply more military aid to the ruling junta until it succeeded in stopping the violence that has racked El Salvador for many months.
However, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance said yesterday that the United States still plans to give military and economic aid to El Salvador, noting that the country's rulers recently have taken steps aimed at "healing" the country's wounds and divisions, and that "the junta has been making progress . . . especially in land reform."
Vance condemned the assassination as "appalling, saddening and tragic."
Administration officials testified yesterday that American intelligence believes Cuba is using the territory of Honduras, neighbor of El Salvador, to ship men and arms for use against the Salvadoran junta. The United States also has evidence that Cuba has been training Salvadoran guerrillas for a matter of years, and is sending them back to fight through Honduras, officials said.
"The Hondurans believe, our intelligence agrees, that their territory is being used as a conduit for men and weapons into El Salvador by insurgents with Cuban support," said Franklin Kramer, deputy assistant secretary of defense.
"Cuban influence on El Salvadoran and Honduran leftist organizations is long-standing, and there are clear indications the Cubans are assisting these groups in their attempt to overthrow the current government of El Salyador," Kramer told a House subcommittee.
His charges were echoed by John Bushnell, deputy assistant secretary of state. Both appeared before the House foreign operations subcommitee to request $46 million in military and economic aid for Honduras and El Salvador.
El Salvador's civilian-military junta has enacted a series of sweeping economic and land reforms with U.S. support and about $50 million in American economic aid.
"There is evidence that mountainous and sparsely populated areas of Honduran territory are being used for the illegal smuggling with Cuban support of insurgents and weapons into El Salvador," said Bushnell.
Both officials notes the close ties between Castro and Central American communist leaders, and said Cuba has most to gain from political violence and instability in that region.
Bushnell stressed that, in the wake of Romero's murder, Washington will continue supporting the ruling junta, "which is committed to basic economic and social reforms and to the improvement of human rights."
Bushnell told the subcomittee that the United States will not become military involved in El Salvador. "We will not use military force in situations where only domestic groups are in contention," he said.

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980) was a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding Luis Chávez. He was assassinated on March 24, 1980.
As an archbishop who witnessed ongoing violations of human rights, Romero initiated and gave his status to a group which spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victims of the Salvadoran civil war. In many ways Romero was closely associated with Liberation Theology and openly condemned both Marxism and Capitalism.

In 1980, as he finished giving his homily during Mass, Romero was assassinated by a group headed by former major Roberto D'Aubuisson. This provoked an international outcry for reform in El Salvador. After his assassination, Romero was succeeded by Monsignor Arturo Rivera. In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero, and 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 Catholics in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, including the Church of England through the Calendar in Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London. In 2008, he was chosen as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy by the Europe-based magazine A Different View.

Assassination and funeral

Romero was shot by an M-16 assault rifle on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital called "La Divina Providencia", one day after a sermon where he had called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God's higher order and to stop carrying out the government's repression and violations of basic human rights. According to an audio-recording of the Mass, he was shot while elevating the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic rite. When he was shot, his blood spilled over the altar.

It is believed that the assassins were members of a death squad. This view was supported in 1993 by an official U.N. report, which identified the man who ordered the killing as former Major and School of the Americas graduate Roberto D'Aubuisson.

He had also planned to overthrow the government in a coup. Later he founded the political party Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), and organized death squads that systematically carried out politically-motivated assassinations and other human rights abuses in El Salvador. Álvaro Rafael Saravia, a former captain in the Salvadoran Air Force, was chief of security for Roberto D'Aubuisson and an active member of these death squads.

In 2003, a U.S. human rights organization, the Center for Justice and Accountability, filed a civil action against Saravia. In 2004, he was found liable by a US District Court under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) for aiding, conspiring, and participating in the assassination of Archbishop Romero. Saravia was ordered to pay $10 million dollars for extrajudicial killing and crimes against humanity pursuant to the ATCA.

Romero is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador (Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador).

The funeral mass (rite of visitation and requiem) on March 30, 1980, in San Salvador was attended by more than 250,000 mourners from all over the world. Viewing this attendance as a protest, Jesuit priest John Dear has said, "Romero’s funeral was the largest demonstration in Salvadoran history, some say in the history of Latin America."

During the ceremony, a smoke bomb exploded on the Cathedral square and subsequently there were rifle-fire shots that came from surrounding buildings, including the National Palace. Many people were killed by gunfire and during the following mass panic; official sources talk of 31 overall casualties, journalists indicated between 30 and 50 dead.

Some witnesses claimed it was government security forces that threw bombs into the crowd, and army sharpshooters, dressed as civilians, that fired into the chaos from the balcony or roof of the National Palace. However, there are contradictory accounts as to the course of the events and "probably, one will never know the truth about the interrupted funeral."

This proved to be a turning point in the history of the Salvadoran conflict, a peak in the power of popular organizations aligned with the left, whose popularity declined after this event under the suspicion that they attempted to capitalize on this tragic event for political gain.
Twenty-five years later, the BBC recalled the horror:
"Tens of thousands of mourners who had gathered for Romero's funeral Mass in front of the cathedral in San Salvador were filmed fleeing in terror as army gunners on the rooftops around the square opened fire.... One person who was there told us he remembered the piles of shoes left behind by those who escaped with their lives."
As the gunfire continued, the body was buried in a crypt beneath the sanctuary. Even after the burial, people continued to line up to pay homage to their martyred prelate.

Canonization proposal and Spiritual life:
Romero noted in his diary on February 4, 1943: "In recent days the Lord has inspired in me a great desire for holiness.... I have been thinking of how far a soul can ascend if it lets itself be possessed entirely by God." Commenting on this passage, James R. Brockman, S.J., Romero's biographer and author of Romero: A Life, said that "All the evidence available indicates that he continued on his quest for holiness until the end of his life. But he also matured in that quest."

Martyred Roman Catholic Archbishop of El Salvador (1977-1980); first archbishop killed at the altar since St. Thomas Becket in 1170. Archbishop Romero was assassinated in 1980 by agents of the military dictatorship then in power in El Salvador, after the cleric denounced human rights abuses by the government. For his courageous stances, Romero became an international hero, whose statute now graces the facade of Westminster Abbey. Raul Julia portrayed the archbishop in the 1989 film, ROMERO. Archbishop Romero's life is currently under study at the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in the Vatican -- which means that the Catholic Church has begun a process that may lead to Romero being declared an official Saint of Roman Catholicism.

Burial:Divine Savior of the World Cathedral in San Salvador Department, El SalvadorPlot: Cathedral Crypt

Servant of God Archbishop Romero, you were truly a man with words,remembering you 30 years later Archbishop and I hope someday that the Vatican will recoginzed your words and make you the patron saint of El Salvador!

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