Óscar Romero (15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980) was a prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador, who served as the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador.
In 1980, Romero was assassinated while offering Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence. On the centenary of his birth PATRICK P. ROWAN remembers the brave prelate who spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and the
torture of his people.
On March 24th, 1980, Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, attended a monthly meeting of priests and then went to a small chapel in a hospital to celebrate Mass. During the Mass, an assassin fired a shot at him killing him.
No one has ever been convicted of the crime, but his death was directly due to his espousal of the cause of the poor and deprived as well as of those who were being tortured and assassinated.
He has been praised and honoured worldwide and, in declaring him a martyr for his faith, Pope Francis beatified him in May 2015.
This year marks the centenary of the birth of Oscar Romero. He was born on August 15, 1917, in Cuidad Barrios, a town in the eastern part of El Salvador. When he was a child his father began training him to become a carpenter as he thought that would be a suitable occupation for him but Oscar had other ideas.
At the age of thirteen he entered a junior seminary. He then went to the national seminary, followed by time spent at the Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained in Rome on April 4th, 1942, and remained in Italy to acquire a doctorate in theology.
When his bishop called him home WWll was in progress so he had to pass through Cuba. The Cubans did not take kindly to anyone coming from ‘Fascist’ Italy so Romero and his priest companion were interned but were released a few months later.
Having arrived back in El Salvador he was given charge of a parish where he would spend the next twenty years before being appointed rector of a seminary in San Salvador.
In 1974, he was appointed Bishop of Santiago de Mare, a rural area. Here he came face-to-face with extreme poverty among the landless peasants and this made him wonder what he could do to relieve their misery.
Six years earlier, in 1968, the Latin American bishops had met in conference in Medellin and decided to support the poor in their struggle for social justice. This decision was to divide the clergy and some of the laity.