Dangerous Solidarity

This week, March 24, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of when El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass.  A month before, he had sent a letter to then-president Jimmy Carter, imploring him to cut off military aid to his country, since that aid only resulted in the massacres of hundreds of innocent people.  Carter ignored the letter.

Those were the days in El Salvador that witnessed the circulation of messages such as “Be a patriot, kill a priest.” In one of his last addresses, Romero made an urgent appeal to the members of the Salvadoran military, who were the ones committing these crimes against their Salvadoran compatriots: “In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God:  Stop the repression!”

Romero had been appointed archbishop because it was believed that he would not make waves.  When priests in his diocese were murdered, the proverbial scales fell from his eyes.  Throughout Latin America, Romero is regarded by many Catholics as a saint, because he stood up for the people. He put his status and skills at the service of defending the lives of campesinos, workers, and toilers for human rights as well as speaking out against the policy-makers and agents of torture and mass murder.  He also denounced the institutionalized greed and violence of the status quo in which a few deprived the majority of the people of the means to have a decent life. Read the rest of this entry »