El Salvador commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Romero on Saturday, March 16, as the date itself, March 24, coincides with the Church’s liturgical feast of Palm Sunday.
At Mass this morning, prayers said for Oscar Romero, so beloved in the Third World, and for Pope Francis. (‘How I long for a poor church and a church for the poor.’) Such affection and enthusiasm for the new Pope, Il Poverello in Vaticano. And thoughts of our priests killed out here in Africa too, the suffering of Latin America, Asia, Africa, the new Catholic martyrs.
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 — March 24, 1980) was a prominent Roman Catholic priest in El Salvador during the 1960s and 1970s, becoming Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, he began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of repression. This led to numerous conflicts, both with the government in El Salvador and within the Catholic Church. After speaking out against U.S. military support for the government of El Salvador, and calling for soldiers to disobey orders to fire on innocent civilians, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass at the small chapel of the cancer hospital where he lived. It is believed that those who organised his assassination were members of Salvadoran death squads, including two graduates of the School of the Americas.
The archbishop had foreseen the danger of assassination and had spoken of it often, declaring his willingness to accept martyrdom if his blood might contribute to the solution of the nation’s problems. “As a Christian,” he remarked on one such occasion, “I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.”