.- Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, better known as Blessed Oscar Romero, once said that if El Salvador’s military oppressors killed him, he would “arise in the Salvadoran people.”
On March 24, 1980, Romero was assassinated in the middle of celebrating Mass, likely by a right-wing death squad. Not long afterwards, the country devolved into a devastating civil war that would last twelve years and claim more than 75,000 lives.
Though Romero’s earthly life may have ended, his love for God and the principles for which he stood— care and dignity for the poor, freedom from oppression— have been far from forgotten. Romero, along with Paul VI and Fr. Franceso Spinelli, will be canonized Oct. 14 at the synod of bishops taking place in Rome. The Vatican had recognized him as a martyr in 2015.
Romero’s words have a prophetic resonance today with the people of El Salvador, according to Rick Jones, technical advisor for policy in Latin America for Catholic Relief Services.
“You go into poor neighborhoods and everybody has a little card, a poster, a picture of Romero. He is in those poor communities, and he’s still the signpost for the Church and what they hope for,” Jones told CNA.
“He was the voice of those voiceless people who were suffering the violence and repression in the ’70s, and now people still look to him as the beacon and as the example,” he said.
“Canonizing someone in the Church is to hold them up as an example: ‘This is what we want people to be like.’ And so I think, still today, that’s who the poor point to for hope and for a sense that there is meaning and purpose, and a different way to do things.”
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