Tuesday, January 04, 2011

TOP 10 ROMERO STORIES OF 2010

Let us remember the year that was for Archbishop Romero.

1. The 30th Anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom was observed. The customary "Minor Holy Week" in El Salvador included large public masses presided over by the Archbishop of San Salvador, by Guatemalan Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada and American Cardinal Theodore Mccarrick. In England, the Archbishop of Canterbury preached a sermon on Romero. The UK’s Romero Trust has published Romero memorial sermons by the Archbishop of York, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and other prominent British clerics. Closer to home, OAS Secretary-General José Insulza called Romero a martyr and a universal human rights hero.

2. The Salvadoran State honors Archbishop Romero. In El Salvador, the first elected leftist government in modern history took part in the official conmemorations for the first time, ever. In the most striking gesture, President Mauricio Funes (pictured) asked forgiveness for the state role in the assassination, dramatically apologizing to Archbishop Romero’s family and to the Church. Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez was reported to remark, "This marks a before and after in the history of El Salvador." In the Salvadoran assembly, political groups on the left and the right joined to declare March 24 Óscar Romero day. Only the imploding ARENA party founded by Maj. Roberto D’Aubuisson abstained (D’Aubuisson is widely believed to have ordered the assassination).

3. The Salvadoran bishops unite behind appeal to Rome urging Romero’s sainthood. In stark contrast to the divisions that plagued the Salvadoran bishops during Romero’s time, the current bishops announced that they would send a letter to the Vatican endorsing the speedy canonization of their martyred brother. The move, together with the official embrace of Romero, seemed to leave no oxygen for Romero bashing in any major part of Salvadoran society, for the first time since the end of the war.

4. Alvaro Saravia tells all. Major revelations about the Romero assassination were disclosed this year in a very unexpected place – in the Salvadoran press. The web site of the weekly El Faro crashed for several days due to online traffic after it published an extensive, exclusive interview with the D’Aubuisson aide accused of having executed the assassination plan. Saravia tells a harrowing tale, implicating D’Aubuisson and others. Yet the greatest drama results from Saravia’s own lot, reduced to a pauper living in the margins, and admitting to feeling a sense of identity with the voiceless whom Romero defended.

5. U.N. declares March 24th conmemoration. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring March 24 as International Day of the Right to Truth, in relation to serious violations of Human Rights and Dignity of Victims, in honor of Archbishop Romero. The U.N. resolution is the latest of various conmemorations of the March 24 date, including the Roman Catholic Church's conmemoration of Missionary Martyrs' Day, the Church of England recognition of the Feast of Óscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador, and the declaration of Romero Day by cities around the world, including L.A.

6. Pope Benedict encounters Romero in London. When Benedict XVI visited Westminster Abbey in London on September 17, 2010, he passed under the prominent statue of Óscar Romero. The Dean of the Abbey told the Pope, "Here we have the statues of the martyrs of the twentieth century, and this is Óscar Romero." The Pope gazed at the white statue in the middle of the array and he said, "Ah, yes. And when was it installed?" The Dean told him that the statue had been there since 1996, highlighting the lag between Anglican and Catholic recognition of Archbishop Romero’s sainthood.

7. Central American Parliament posthumously bestows its Grand Cross. The Central American Parliament, composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, posthumously awarded Archbishop Romero the Order of Francisco Morazán in the grade of Grand Cross, the highest decoration that the organization bestows. The award was accepted by the late Archbishop’s brother, Gaspar Romero, who admitted, "Archbishop Romero would have been wary of accepting an award such as this one, because he was very humble."

8. Texas school board’s questioning of Romero’s relevance causes outcry. When the Texas Board of Education voted not to approve including Archbishop Romero in its history books because he was not sufficiently notable, they were lampooned by TV host Jon Stewart for their circular, self-fulfilling reasoning. The debate was picked up by national commentators and the incident became a flashpoint in charges that the board was pushing an ideological agenda in disregard of sound academic practices/good history.

9. Pope infuses new blood into Congregation for the Causes of Saints. At the end of the year, Pope Benedict made important new appointments in the Vatican agency charged with approving saints. The Pope named Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci as the new secretary of the CCS, Fr. Boguslaw Turek as the undersecretary, and the Holy Father named three cardinals as members of the Congregation: Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, and Cardinal Paolo Sardi, all new cardinals created in the recent October 2010 consistory.

10. Barack Obama praises Óscar Romero. Finally, the most powerful man on earth weighed in on Archbishop Romero’s merits. Welcoming new Salvadoran Ambassador Francisco Altschul on June 29, 2010, Obama praised the values of the Salvadoran people, and he singled out Archbishop Romero, whom Obama said was someone who "spoke in the name of justice and social inclusion." Obama said Romero had been committed to democracy and freedom. And so, Romero this year was on the lips of presidents and popes, with praise coming from PARLACEN, the OAS, and the U.N. as well as peasants and commoners.

Previously:

2006 Round-up (Spanish)

Top 10 of 2007

Top 10 of 2008
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