On October 14, 2018, Pope Francis canonized archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, along with Pope Paul VI, and five other saints. According to news sources, the ceremony in the Vatican was attended by more than 70,000 people. In San Salvador, an EcoViva delegation in partnership with the Center for Exchange and Solidarity (CIS), joined thousands of celebrants in the plaza in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral to mark the canonization. It was inspiring to be in a crowd of people who were there to honor the life and living legacy of a man who has been referred to as the “voice of the voiceless.”
While some observers have pointed to Oscar Romero as having a more conservative stance earlier in his life, the murder of his close friend Rutilio Grande, who had been working with El Salvador’s poor, that had been committed at the hands of El Salvador’s security forces became a flashpoint for Oscar Romero. After the murder he became an outspoken advocate for the poor.
Romero ran a church commission that investigated human rights abuses, and he openly denounced the violence of leftist and rightist forces alike. During Mass, he named victims of murder and those who disappeared. State-run media weren’t reporting on the institutionalized violence, so Romero’s homilies turned into newscasts for the poor. His message inspired the repressed and his words gave them their dignity. (NPR)
On March 24, 1980 while giving mass at the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence an assassin’s bullet pierced the archbishop’s heart and he died on the spot. No one has been convicted of the crime but investigations by the UN supported Truth Commission for El Salvador concluded that the far right-wing politician and death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson was the intellectual author of the crime.
Today, the legacy of Archbishop Romero lives on in the struggles of the Salvadoran people who work for social, environmental, and economic justice. His life is an example of courage, conviction, integrity, compassion, and a thirst for justice — regardless of faith tradition.
Over these past few days we have seen several quotes attributed to now, St. Romero and we’d like to share some of them with you. We’d like to invite you to meditate on his words — which truly transcend any one faith — as a call to action to help build a more just and compassionate world.
For more coverage on the canonization of Archbishop Romero, El Salvador Perspectives has a great list of news stories and TV and radio coverage.