Monday, March 24, 2014

Archbishop Romero’s anniversary

  • El Salvador renames its airport after its slain archbishop
  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issues statement
  • Church observes Day of Fasting and Prayer for Missionary Martyrs
  • Commemorative events in San Salvador, London, Rome and other cities

Romero banners were seen at Pope Francis' Sunday "Angelus" prayer.  Claudio Peri/EFE.  More about Romero in Rome.

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Monday March 24, 2014 marked the 34 anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Óscar A. Romero of El Salvador.  The date was marked in El Salvador and around the world in a heightened mood of expectation that Archbishop Romero will soon be beatified.

[Update:] In a Tuesday interview with Aleteia (in Italian), Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the Postulator of Romero’s cause, said that “the time is ripe” for the cause to “arrive at the harbor.”

At a Mass in San Salvador on Monday, Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas announced that the Salvadoran Church is launching a three year project of preparations in the run-up to the centennial of Romero’s birth in 2017.  The Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, Gregorio Rosa Chávez told the press over the weekend that the Archdiocese expected Romero to be beatified sometime before the centenary year rolls around.  In the run-up to the centennial, the Salvadoran Church will be observing three consecutive year-long reflections.  First, on Romero as a man of God.  Then, Romero as a man of the church.  And finally, Romero as a servant of the poor.

Romero devotees at the Divine Savior monument in San Salvador.  Gabriel Gasteazoro Franco photo.

Also in El Salvador, the Salvadoran president, Mauricio Funes, headlined a ceremony Monday changing the name of El Salvador’s airport after Romero.  The president insisted that the decision was not a political act but essentially a statement of conscience for a country coming out of a civil war process, now making a sustained commitment to democracy.

With this recognition, we open the doors of our country and welcome our guests with the name of the one who was the voice of the voiceless during the most difficult moments in the recent history of our country,” said the president.

Plaque bearing the new name of El Salvador's Monseñor Romero Airport.  Salvador Presidency photo.

A Mass in the Cathedral Crypt where Romero is buried held Monday afternoon was attended by Salvador Sánchez Cerén, whose election victory earlier this month will make him El Salvador’s next president, assuming vote count disputes pending in Salvadoran courts do not upset the results.

Activities in El Salvador to honor Romero have been under way since last week, but they culminated over the weekend, with a candlelit procession in the capital and an overnight vigil outside the Cathedral.  Discussion of Romero and his legacy dominated the Salvadoran Twitter-world, according to La Prensa Gráfica, a Salvadoran paper.  In the United States, the musicians of The Project told Super Martyrio that the YouTube video for their song “Romero” has gone “viral.”

Throughout the world, the date of Romero’s 1980 assassination marks the Church’s day of fasting and prayer to honor the memory of the missionary martyrs, and numerous activities were held in various cities, which also paid tribute to Romero.

The United Nations marks the anniversary of Msgr. Romero’s assassination as the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the observance honors Romero’s legacy.  “Our commemorations defy the attempt by his murderers to silence his cries for justice and reinforce the importance of standing firm for fundamental freedoms,” the Secretary General said in a statement.

In England, the Archbishop Romero Romero Trust launched a series of lectures by Fr. Martin Meier, SJ.  At the Saturday talk, in London, Fr. Meier linked Romero to Pope Francis: “Romero wanted a church similar to Christ, a church serving humankind and especially the poor and needy. So does Pope Francis,” he said. “I am convinced that we can find much inspiration to build up a poor church for the poor from Archbishop Romero.”  On hand at the London event were representatives of Pax Christi, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Progressio, Jesuits in Britain, Columban missionaries, Assumption Sisters, the National Justice and Peace Network, and the Chigwell Sisters, including sisters from Zambia and Latin America.  [For future dates of the Meier lecture in Birmingham and Norwich, see here.]

[Update:] In Rome, the outspoken Bishop of Patagonia, Chile, Msgr. Luis Infante De La Mora led celebrations at the church of San Marcello on Friday, March 28 and at Santa Maria della Luce on Sunday, March 30.  Also in Rome, there was a Eucharistic celebration for Romero offered on Tiber Island’s Basilica of St. Bartholomew and a special conference featuring Prof. Roberto Morozzo della Rocca at Chiesa Nuova.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, an estimated 500 people crowded St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in the Byzantine-Latino Quarter to hear the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chávez, preach about Romero on Saturday, March 29.

The Romero celebration in Los Angeles.  Exclusive Super Martyrio photos.

As always, there were more commemorations than is possible to document.  Archbishop Romero was especially well remembered in the Americas, from Montreal, Canada, where a sizeable Salvadoran community exists and special masses were said, down to Panama, where the Archdiocese held a special ceremony at a new Romero bust on the Coastal Beltway, to Santiago de Chile, where a special commemorative service was held at the Catholic Universidad Alberto Hurtado (UAH).  In Washington, D.C., where there is a large Salvadoran population, a special commemorative Mass was said at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, while legislators in nearby Maryland declared a commemorative “Romero week.”  Catholic student organizations were also involved, with Romero Scholars praying for Romero’s beatification at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union, while the Jesuit-run Boston College awarded its 22nd annual Romero scholarship to Jessica Franco, majoring in economics, theology and international studies.

Farther afield, diplomats and officials flocked to New Delhi’s Sacred Heart Cathedral in India, where Archbishop Emeritus Vincent Concessao led a special commemoration of Archbishop Romero.  Devotion has been growing in India due to the influence of the Missionary Martyr’s Day, and perhaps a natural inclination based on socioeconomic factors that made Mother Teresa’s work with the poor so necessary and urgent there.


2012 commemorations
2011 commemorations (Spanish)

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