World

Sainthood For El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero : NPR

Archbishop Óscar Romero stands outside the chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia in San Salvador on Nov. 20, 1979.

Alex Bowie/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Alex Bowie/Getty Images

Archbishop Óscar Romero stands outside the chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia in San Salvador on Nov. 20, 1979.

Alex Bowie/Getty Images

In March 1980, Patricia Morales Tijerino and her sister had just left a wedding in a little chapel in El Salvador’s capital and were on their way to the reception.

“And then I spotted him,” Morales Tijerino recalls. “He was in his white cassock.”

Óscar Arnulfo Romero, the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Salvador, was standing alone in a garden outside the church.

“We were his admirers and his followers and we had never met him before,” Morales Tijerino, now 55, says. “So we approached him, right? We’re two teenagers, just to say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ And he was very soft-spoken. He said, ‘Preocupado,’ which means worried. ‘Preocupado.’

People crowd into San Salvador’s Metropolitan Cathedral to listen to a sermon by Romero on Sunday, May 27, 1979.

P.W. Hamilton/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

P.W. Hamilton/AP

People crowd into San Salvador’s Metropolitan Cathedral to listen to a sermon by Romero on Sunday, May 27, 1979.

P.W. Hamilton/AP

Two days later, Romero was dead, gunned down by members of a right-wing death squad.

A messenger of hope

This Sunday, 38 years after his assassination, Romero will be canonized as a Catholic saint. Known to his followers as Monseñor (Monsignor), Romero was a champion of human rights at a time when El Salvador was on the brink of civil war. His tireless fight for civil rights ranks him among figures like Martin Luther King Jr. His devout following filled San Salvador’s towering cathedral each Mass.

“It was packed,” says Octavio Duran, a Franciscan brother who started working with Romero as a 21-year-old seminarian. “People were standing, people were sweating. I remember when Monseñor Romero was making his entrance, people clapping.”

Romero’s voice echoed above the violence that engulfed his country.

“At a time of so much confusion and anguish,” Romero said in his homily on Feb. 10, 1980, “I want to be a messenger of hope. In the midst of tragedy and bloodshed, there is hope.”

Government forces patrol a village in northern El Salvador on Nov. 1, 1979.

Max Schneider/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Max Schneider/Getty Images

Government forces patrol a village in northern El Salvador on Nov. 1, 1979.

Max Schneider/Getty Images

Leftist demonstrators flee after Salvadoran National Guard troops fire into a crowd of protesters on the steps of the San Salvador Cathedral on May 9, 1979.

Tony Comiti/Sygma via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Tony Comiti/Sygma via Getty Images

Leftist demonstrators flee after Salvadoran National Guard troops fire into a crowd of protesters on the steps of the San Salvador Cathedral on May 9, 1979.

Tony Comiti/Sygma via Getty Images

A bus burns in the streets of San Salvador on May 15, 1979, after it was set on fire by leftist demonstrators.

Hamilton/Associated Press


hide caption

toggle caption

Hamilton/Associated Press

A bus burns in the streets of San Salvador on May 15, 1979, after it was set on fire by leftist demonstrators.

Hamilton/Associated Press

At that time, “Hope was like water in the desert,” Duran says. “It was scary to live in those days.”

In the late 1970s, civil war loomed. Decades of government oppression sparked massive protests. Peasant workers united in the countryside, demanding basic rights. Popular opposition groups and teachers’ unions called for wealth distribution, while leftist guerrillas took up arms against the military and government elites.

In rural Catholic churches, some priests and nuns supported the peaceful cause on behalf the poor. But they were up against El Salvador’s corrupt oligarchy. The country’s so-called “Fourteen Families,” who controlled most of the land and wealth, accused the priests and peasants of a communist uprising.

The Salvadoran National Guard roamed streets, searching for subversives. Priests were expelled from the country, beaten and imprisoned. Security forces burned villages and committed rape. The National Guard arrested family members, who never returned home again.

El Salvador’s brutal military regime — supported by the United States — kidnapped, tortured and killed civilians, many of them among the poorest.

The “voice of the voiceless”

“These were atrocities towards innocent people, young people, even children,” says Morales Tijerino, who is an interpreter, translator and human rights activist. She says Romero defended the most vulnerable.

“The people felt protected by him,” Morales Tijerino says. “That protection was the power of his words.”

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.

“At a time of so much confusion and anguish,” Romero said in a 1980 homily, “I want to be a messenger of hope. In the midst of tragedy and bloodshed, there is hope.”

Bettmann Archive


hide caption

toggle caption

Bettmann Archive

“At a time of so much confusion and anguish,” Romero said in a 1980 homily, “I want to be a messenger of hope. In the midst of tragedy and bloodshed, there is hope.”

Bettmann Archive

“He became the voice of the voiceless,” Morales Tijerino says.

The day before he was murdered, Romero pleaded with members of the military to disobey orders to kill.

“In the name of this suffering people, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression,” Romero declared, to thunderous applause.

“Be a patriot, kill a priest”

Romero was a polarizing figure in Central America — family members often disagreed among themselves over his support of the poor.

“Part of my family believed that he was taking away from the rich. Others saw him as a communist, meddling in politics,” says Sister Ana María Pineda, author of Romero & Grande: Companions On The Journey, a biography of Romero and his friend, Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande. “The other side of my family loves Romero. And so we reflect the mixed reality of El Salvador.”

Romero was especially divisive within the Catholic Church in El Salvador. Some of his fellow bishops, loyal to the government, called him a subversive and accused him of inciting violence among the peasant class.

“That was a very painful reality for him,” Pineda says.

In private, Romero seemed isolated.

“He had a bad temper, he was an introvert, he preferred to be alone and he was a perfectionist,” Pineda says. “For all of his life, he struggled.”

An unidentified woman in San Salvador holds a photocopied picture of Romero on the fourth anniversary of his death, March 24, 1984.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

An unidentified woman in San Salvador holds a photocopied picture of Romero on the fourth anniversary of his death, March 24, 1984.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

He was also uncompromising, Ricardo Urioste, Romero’s vicar general and friend, recalled. In a book published in 2000, Monseñor Romero: Memories In Mosaic, Urioste is quoted saying: “When [Romero] had his mind made up about something, he was relentless — really stubborn. Like a steamroller.”

But, Duran says, “He was such a good person, he had a good heart.”

He remembers how Romero suffered through bouts of anxiety and depression. “Even though he was that shy person, when he spoke at the pulpit, he was a giant.”

In Romero’s war on inequality, the transistor radio was his weapon. Live broadcasts of his homilies on YSAX, El Salvador’s Catholic radio station, became the most popular program in the country, according to the book El Salvador: The Face of Revolution.

“On Sunday, every house had their radio on,” Morales Tijerino recalls. “If someone was walking from one end of the neighborhood to the other, they wouldn’t miss a moment of his homily.”

“Listening to Monseñor Romero was prohibited by the army. But everybody — everybody — was listening,” Duran says. “Including his enemies.”

Priests and nuns who advocated for and supported the poor were targets. Right-wing militants bombed the YSAX radio station in February 1980, and fliers showed up outside of churches with the message: “Be a patriot, kill a priest.”

“I received notice that I’m on the list of those who are to be eliminated next week,” Romero told his congregation one month before his murder. “But let it be known that no one can any longer kill the voice of justice.”

Assassination of a saint

“I was so close to him, we were friends,” says José Inocencio “Chencho” Alas, a former priest in El Salvador. The last time he saw Romero, Alas sensed that his friend was afraid.

“There was a moment that he said to me, ‘Chencho, they want to kill me. But I must stay with my people.’ He was offering his life.”

A nun clasps her hands in prayer as others gather around Romero after he was shot at the altar while celebrating Mass in 1980.

AP


hide caption

toggle caption

AP

A nun clasps her hands in prayer as others gather around Romero after he was shot at the altar while celebrating Mass in 1980.

AP

On March 24, 1980, Romero was celebrating Mass with a small gathering at the chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia in San Salvador. A gunman from a right-wing death squad shot him as he stood at the altar.

Romero was 62.

“When you talk to Salvadorans of my generation about that day, people remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news,” Morales Tijerino says. “It was this feeling of losing someone that is yours, of feeling orphaned.”

Romero’s assassination accelerated the conflict in El Salvador. Violence erupted at his funeral and the country soon spiraled into civil war. The U.S. backed the anti-communist military regime. The fighting lasted 12 years, ending in 1992 after claiming over 75,000 lives. Half a million Salvadorans were displaced, and many fled as refugees to the U.S.

Romero’s voice was never silenced. For his followers throughout the world, he became a saint the moment he was shot at the altar.

“With Monseñor Romero, Jesus passed through El Salvador,” Duran says.

A mural depicting Romero decorates a wall where students sit in a plaza in Panchimalco, El Salvador, in 2015.

Salvador Melendez/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Salvador Melendez/AP

A mural depicting Romero decorates a wall where students sit in a plaza in Panchimalco, El Salvador, in 2015.

Salvador Melendez/AP

But the wounds of war have not healed. Today, El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Street gangs — primarily the 18th Street gang and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) — control sections of cities.

His old friend Alas prays to Romero now for a country that is free of bloodshed:

“Archbishop Romero: We need your voice in El Salvador. Your work has not ended. Please, from heaven, help us. Please.”

In the audio version of this story, poet William Archila provides the English voice-over for Óscar Romero. Archila was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, and fled to the United States in 1980 during the civil war.


Source link

health news headlines provided courtesy of Medical News Today.

Advertisement

Advertisement Small

Flickr

  • Paranoids
  • prolog
  • Just before rain
  • 86 Fahrenheit
  • Vivian
  • badinage
  • ceinturon
  • Zuzanas
  • Xandra

About Author

Follow Me

Collaboratively harness market-driven processes whereas resource-leveling internal or "organic" sources. Competently formulate.

ThemeForest

Collaboratively harness market-driven processes whereas resource-leveling internal or "organic" sources. Competently formulate.

  • Johannes - Multi-concept Personal Blog & Magazine WordPress theme
  • Opinion - Modern News & Magazine Style WordPress Theme
  • Trawell - WordPress travel theme
  • Pinhole - WordPress Gallery Theme for Photographers
  • Typology - Text Based Minimal WordPress Blog Theme
  • Gridlove - Creative Grid Style News & Magazine WordPress Theme
  • Vlog - Video Blog / Magazine WordPress Theme
  • Herald - News Portal & Magazine WordPress Theme
  • Sidewalk - Elegant Personal Blog WordPress Theme

View more

View More Job Search Results

Calendar

June 2019
M T W T F S S
« May    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Pages

Recent Comments

    RSS Meks Blog

    • Using Google Trends for market research to leverage your content creation ideas June 12, 2019
      Did you know you can use Google Trends for market research and target your customer needs, tailor content strategy, in a much better way? The post Using Google Trends for market research to leverage your content creation ideas appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • How WordPress can help you to build and increase brand awareness June 6, 2019
      How can you build and improve brand awareness with WordPress and what steps are needed in that strategy? The post How WordPress can help you to build and increase brand awareness appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • Starting a photography blog: The secrets successful photo bloggers won’t tell you May 30, 2019
      Is starting a photography blog the next step for your personal branding and getting out there with your work? Sure is! And here’s how you can do it! The post Starting a photography blog: The secrets successful photo bloggers won’t tell you appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • 5+ best forum plugins for WordPress to build a loyal community in 2019 May 22, 2019
      Looking for the best forum plugin for WordPress to build a community and keep them engaged? Let us save you the time and choose among these 6 we recommend. The post 5+ best forum plugins for WordPress to build a loyal community in 2019 appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • Easily setup Facebook instant articles for your WordPress website (plus tips & tricks ) May 16, 2019
      In case you still haven’t set up Facebook Instant Articles for your WordPress blog or site, here’s why we recommend you to do it. The post Easily setup Facebook instant articles for your WordPress website (plus tips & tricks ) appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • 8 things people usually miss before starting a blog May 8, 2019
      Have you ever wondered what things need to be done before starting a blog or do you think it’s just writing and not much else? Boy, are you in for a surprise! The post 8 things people usually miss before starting a blog appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • WordPress RSS feed plugin – 7 recommendations 2019 edition May 1, 2019
      Wondering whether you need a WordPress RSS feed plugin or not? Let us show you what beautiful things you can make with it! The one thing people nowadays tend to say is that emails and RSS feeds are dead. A fact that couldn’t be more from the actual truth. Knowing that we live in a […]
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • How to make money as a travel blogger (10 tips you can start using today) April 23, 2019
      Have you ever wondered how to make money as a travel blogger, especially when you see how many are out there doing it? Here are at least ten ways you can, too! The post How to make money as a travel blogger (10 tips you can start using today) appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • 6+ video marketing tips to improve your vlogging [2019 edition] April 17, 2019
      Wondering what would be some of the best video marketing tips that can help you step up your vlogging game? We’ve got you covered! The post 6+ video marketing tips to improve your vlogging [2019 edition] appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic
    • 18 top Google Chrome extensions for WordPress April 10, 2019
      Looking for the most useful WordPress Chrome extensions to make your site more functional and engaging? Take a look at our list of top Chrome addons to use! The post 18 top Google Chrome extensions for WordPress appeared first on Meks.
      Ivana Cirkovic

    Text

    Distinctively utilize long-term high-impact total linkage whereas high-payoff experiences. Appropriately communicate 24/365.

    Archives