On the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s death

Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the killing of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Romero was shot down March 24, 1980, by a paid assassin acting on behalf of military officials (specifically right-wing leader Major Roberto D’Aubuisson) of his native El Salvador.

Here’s a pair of interesting links to mark the day. The first is a National Public Radio report aired three years ago. It includes some interesting details about the assassination itself, including information from a journalist’s interview with the man who most likely was the one who pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Romero and who lives in hiding. That’s here.

Then there’s a First Things article, posted on that publication’s blog earlier this month. Emphasizing ways that Romero has been misunderstood and mischaracterized (by people from a variety of positions), it includes interesting details on Romero himself, including these two snippets:

Even a man as saintly as Dom Helder Camara—the bishop who defended Brazil’s poor against the country’s military dictatorship—believed that Marx should do for Christianity in the twentieth century what Aristotle did for medieval Thomism. By contrast, in a 1978 homily Romero said: “Since Marxist materialism destroys the Church’s transcendent meaning, a Marxist church would be not only self-destructive but senseless.”


Few know that Romero received spiritual direction from an Opus Dei priest and personally knew the future saint and Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva. When the latter died in 1975, he wrote a letter to Paul VI asking the Pope to jumpstart his canonization process, writing: “Monsignor Escriva . . . was able to unite in his life a continuous dialogue with Our Lord and a great humanity; one could tell he was a man of God, and his manner was full of sensitivity, kindness, and good humor.” As recommended by Opus Dei priests, Romero wore a cilice on Fridays as a form of self-mortification until his death.

The entire thing is here.

Last year on this day, I linked to a Vatican Insider article that referred to the possibility of a Romero canonization as a “lost cause” — this despite Pope Benedict’s high regard for the man (Benedict publically spoke of Romero as  “a great witness of the faith” who is “worthy of beatification”).  A year later, we have a new pope, one who is clearly intensely interested in social justice issues, who said within the first days of his pontificate that he “would like a Church which is poor and for the poor,” and who is himself from Latin America. It will be interesting to see what develops.


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