Remembering Romero

March 24, 2011

Today marks the anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, in 1980. Author Renny Golden has a good column that gives a nice overview of Romero and his work. Although he started his career as a traditional conservative Catholic priest, he became an outspoken critic of the oppression and corruption that left people suffering in poverty. His social criticism led to him being killed while he was leading Mass (reportedly by individuals trained by the U.S.). In Romero's honor, starting this year the United Nations is making March 24 "International Day for the Right to the Truth of Victims of Gross Human Rights Violations." Leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also noted the occasion. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, said:

He spoke with courage to political leaders to champion justice and peace, and we must do the same today. ... We also call on our political leaders to address the root causes of migration by working to reduce poverty, promote educational and economic opportunities, and protect human rights. ... These were causes for which Archbishop Romero was martyred, and they remain our causes today.
President Barack Obama, who has been visiting South American countries the past few days, visited the tomb of Romero a couple of days ago. Obama called Romero "an inspiration," and his visit to the tomb drew praise from many in the region. The move contrasts quite dramatically with Obama's refusal to apologize for the U.S.'s support of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet when asked to just a couple of days earlier in Chile.

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