Exile Eighteen

Jan 18, 2021 | Exile Blog | 0 comments

By the Waters of Babylon -Ps 137:1

In 1977, a quiet and traditional Roman Catholic priest named Oscar Romero was consecrated Archbishop of San Salvador. The country of El Salvador was in turmoil at the time, with leaders committing government-sanctioned murders. Initially, the government authorities considered Romero to be a safe bet for Archbishop, but their killings began to affect Romero deeply. He sympathized with the priests who were aligned with the poor people of the country. Many of his priests, and ultimately Romero himself, considered the Church to be among the people but surrounded by wolves.

The death of an innocent country priest made Romero even more radical. He began to support worship services that honored and lifted up the poor. He called for the Church to be the voice of those whose voices were being silenced by the authorities. As he did this, he became more and more a thorn in the side of the oppressive government.

On 24 March 1980, Archbishop Romero was celebrating mass at the altar of the Chapel of the Divine Presence in San Salvador. He had just preached about Jesus’ ministry to the poor, and that the Church should mirror that love. As he raised the elements of communion, a single shot rang out. Romero collapsed at the altar. The Archbishop did not fear death. Knowing his life to be in danger, he often stated that his soul would ultimately rise in the hearts of the Salvadoran people, so his death would not be in vain, whenever it happened.

After his death, Romero became an unofficial national hero in El Salvador. Later, his memory was embraced by a new Salvadoran government. El Salvador’s president formally apologized on behalf of the government for Romero’s murder. During his inaugural address, the new President asked that his administration be always judged by the standards and love established by the Archbishop.