the Assassination of 
Archbishop Oscar Romero
March 24, 1980
The voice of this reluctant prophet was silenced in 1980  when he was shot in the heart while saying Mass. 

His words and his story continue to speak the Gospel to us today. 

Photo by Octavio Duran

From the News
March, 1980
in the Washington Post:

March 26th, 1980
The U.S. Government Reacts.
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. ...

March 28, 1980
Treadmill of Heroism
"Romero had the only uncensored voice in San Salvador, a small radio station. It broadcast the names of people who were missing. It would happen that a man would be taken off and never heard from again, and his family would ask a priest for help in tracing him. These things soon wound up in the archbishop's lap. He wanted answers, why people were arrested and what was happening to them." ...

March 31, 1980
40 Killed at Romero's Funeral
As the panicked crowds surged outside, and many rushed into the already packed cathedral, Romero's body was taken to a crypt below the sanctuary and buried.

The archbishop was killed by a gunman Monday night as he was saying a memorial mass for a friend's mother. He died within minutes.

A highly popular and controversial figure and outspoken critic of the military that has long dominated this Central American nation, Romero was looked upon as one of the few people who could keep the violence-ridden society from plunging into all-out civil war. ...

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."
at Creighton University

Links to learn more:

The Project: Romero A 4 minute powerful video of Oscar Romero and the chaos in his country in the early 1980s. Created by the Martyrs Project.

A Remembrance
Salt of the Earth magazine's
remembrance of Romero.

Informal Education in a Context of Violence

The Reluctant Conversion of Oscar Romero
Memories of the archbishop from March, 2000, 
the 20th anniversary of his assassination.

Sojourners Magazine.
By Carmen Chacon, Salvador Carranza, Juan Macho, Inocencio Alas, Carmen Elena Hernandez, Maria Isabel Figueroa, Jorge Lara-Braud

UN Truth Commission
Report on Murder of Romero.

Romero Statue
Brief bio and photo of new statue
of Romero in Westminster Abby.

Seven Sermons of Oscar Romero
Portions of seven Romero homilies - from the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City.

Formerly known as The Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America (FSSCA).

The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador

                 Photo by Octavio Duran

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