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James T. KeaneMay 20, 2015

Folks interested in some different perspectives on Romero's life, death, impact, and "meaning for the rest of us" might profit from the following articles and essays.

First is a piece from 2010 by Christopher Dickey, an erstwhile reporter for Newsweek in Central America who took some of the last photographs of Romero before his death (also pictured here). Dickey was there in the weeks before Romero's death, and also present at his funeral:

I had interviewed the archbishop a few weeks before. He had been good-humored and philosophical about all the threats against him by Salvadoran right-wingers who claimed he was helping communists. I had heard Romero's powerful sermons in the cathedral of San Salvador, where the raw concrete walls had been left unfinished as a sign that grandeur was not the church's priority. All of us reporting there knew he would be killed. He knew he would be killed. 

The article can be found here.

Second is a piece Dickey links to, by Salvadoran journalist Carlos Dada, entitled "How We Killed Archbishop Romero" (English version available on the site).  It can be found here.

Third is a New Yorker piece from just yesterday by that same Carlos Dada, "The Beatification of Oscar Romero." Among his observations is the following:

Romero was not a theologian and never considered himself part of Liberation Theology, the most radical Catholic movement born of Vatican II. But he shared with the liberationists a vision of a Gospel meant to protect the poor. “Between the powerful and the wealthy, and the poor and vulnerable, who should a pastor side with?” he asked himself. “I have no doubts. A pastor should stay with his people.” It was a political decision, but justified theologically. All of his writings include extensive biblical references, Church documents, and Papal quotations to support his assertions.

Fourth is a National Catholic Register article by Filip Mazurczak with which I profoundly disagree, including as it does the insulting conclusion that Romero's cause has been hindered by those "politicizing and distorting his legacy," as if his life and martyrdom took place in some cosmic vacuum—and as if his cause were not hindered for years by Salvadoran and Roman churchmen eager to sanitize Romero's witness. In any case, it does show the broad range of opinion in the church regarding Romero, and can be found here. De gustibus non est disputandum, or something.

Finally, Kevin Clarke of this magazine offers this excerpt from his award-winning book Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out. A graf from that book:

The night before his murder, the archbishop made a personal appeal in a desperate attempt to place some sort of moral obstacle before the escalating pace of the killing in El Salvador. He spoke directly to those soldiers of the night who were most responsible for the growing horror. “I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army,” he said, “and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says ‘Do not kill!’ should prevail. No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin.... Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: ‘Cease the repression!’”

(Because, you know, Romero wasn't political.)

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Lawrence Lyons
8 years 11 months ago
I'm confused...Why does a martyr require Beatification prior to Sainthood?
Kevin Clarke
8 years 11 months ago

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, chartiably of course, but a declaration of martyrdom allows the person being considered for canonization to move to the beatification stage without having to be credited with a miracle, but otherwise it's the same process, i.e., another mircale will be required for canonization proper.

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