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(From the diaries, regarding one of my two political heroes -- kos)

This day, this Holy Thursday, is the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus, the meal where Jesus instituted that breaking of the bread and that sharing of the cup that became the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox, the Communion of the Protestants, and the Mass of the Catholics. And it was at Mass, 25 years ago today on March 24, 1980, that an assassin murdered Oscar Romero at precisely that moment in the liturgy where the priest presented his gifts, the bread, the wine, and unexpectedly, himself, to God as he prepared to recite the Eucharistic Prayer.

An anxiety-ridden Oscar Romero grew from boyhood to be a man who served the Church as a quiet, studious, withdrawn, conservative priest.  Of him his brother said, "My brother always turned inward, thought too much." And one who observed the earlier period of his priesthood less charitably observed, "He was an insignificant being, a shadow that went by clinging to the walls."

When the bishops of El Salvador recommended that this sober scholar, this evident nebbish, this "pastor to his paperwork," become a bishop, they had no expectation of the ferocious voice they would unleash against the crisis that engulfed El Salvador.  Indeed, for years after that appointment, his fellow bishops heard nothing from their brother more threatening than the turning pages of his breviary.

In February 1977, Romero became the Archbishop of San Salvador.  Shortly afterwards, his friend, the first priest Romero had ordained, was murdered at the government's hands, assassinated for his service of the poor.  A crowd of 100,000 drew together in a square in shock and horror to mourn the death of Romero's friend, the dead priest servant of the poor.  To the crowd, Romero gave a vow.

Whoever touches one of my priests, is touching me. And they will have to deal with me!

A swelling wave of approval echoed in the applause that rolled through the crowd, and the magnitude of the injustice against his people fired Romero's imagination.  As one who was there observed, "Thousands of people were applauding him, and you could see him grow stronger. It was then that he crossed the threshold. He went through the door. Because, you know, there is baptism by water, and there is baptism by blood. But there is also baptism by the people."  

The lamb did start to roar.

This is the mission entrusted to the church, a hard mission: to uproot sins from history, to uproot sins from the political order, to uproot sins from the economy, to uproot sins wherever they are.

The shadow on the wall became Amos in the court of the king, a voice of radical unfettered self-forgetting concern for the lot of the least, the despised, the disdained, the rejected.

We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs.  We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.

That the government found his voice a taunt, a nuisance, and a scourge was not lost on Romero.

While it is clear that our Church has been the victim of persecution during the last three years, it is even more important to observe the reason for the persecution . . . The persecution comes about because of the Church's defense of the poor, for assuming the destiny of the poor.

On March 23, 1980, Romero in a broadcast heard across the nation appealed to the men of El Salvador's armed forces to mutiny:

Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, "Thou shalt not kill."  No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God.  No one has to obey an immoral law.  It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders.  The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination . . . . In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression.

The  next day, Oscar Romero was dead.  A 1992 United Nations Commission that investigated his murder observed about that day 25 year ago today, "On Monday, 24 March 1980, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, was celebrating mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia when he was killed by a professional assassin who fired a single .22 or .223 calibre bullet from a red, four door Volkswagen vehicle. The bullet hit its mark, causing the Archbishop's death from severe bleeding."  Yet the bullet that killed Romero did not silence his voice.

I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.

As a consequence of his death, El Salvador's civil war commenced.

His people to this day labor to recover from the horrors they endured.  The sister of someone I know currently serves as a Catholic lay worker in El Salvador.  I spoke to this friend a few nights ago.  She told me that her sister recently observed Romero's continuing presence among the people.

There is a certain mass grave these days the people are digging up to remove the massacred to proper places of burial.  The horror in that mass grave has unleashed an immense pathos; as an expression of their grief, the people painted a mural on a wall above the grave.  At the center of that mural stands the image of Oscar Romero, his enormous arms reaching out, bending around, enfolding in an embrace the murdered of that grave, who have lain these years anonymously in that place.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:01 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  great shame (4.00)
    I still feel great shame at the U.S. role in El Salvador in the 1980s. Every time I see Elliot Abrams, I feel sick.
    Rest in peace, Monsignor Romero.
    •  Even Jimmy Carter (4.00)
      Oscar Romero asked Jimmy Carter to stop sending money, the equivalent of $1.5 million a day, to the government in San Salvador.  Carter never responded to Romero's letter.

      DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.

      by DCDemocrat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 05:05:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kos, dailykos, and Romero (4.00)
        Another reflection on this anniversary.  There is an argument that dailykos itself exists because of Oscar Romero.  Kos's family fled El Salvador because of the civil war that ignited at Romero's murder.  

        DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.

        by DCDemocrat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 08:48:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Seed (4.00)
          As Jesus said, the seed must die and fall into the ground, or else the tree cannot grow.

          Kos is one of the fruits of that tree, and that fruit has brought so much more to us than even Romero might have imagined.

          That is the dilemma of suppressing "revolution", which is really just the organic desire of people and their families to control their own lives.

          It's a precarious existence trying to be the owner of slaves.  You never know which one of the workers you seek to enslave will turn the tables on you.

          All of the models of control are inadequate, but in El Salvador, it was the old-fashioned bullet in the head, courtesy of Uncle Sam's "foreign aid".

          Now -- if we can just get over our internal enslavement, the people of El Salvador might just get a better break for freedom on their next run for it...

          If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

          by HenryDavid on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 03:21:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Just as Truman never responded ... (4.00)
        ...to Ho Chi Minh's several letters seeking aid to decolonialize Vietnam. Instead, Truman supported France, which, under Vichy, had collaborated with the Japanese occupiers against Ho, who had led the resistance.
    •  Sick is not how I feel ... (4.00)
      ...when I see Elliott Abrams. But I would need an asbestos blog to write how I do feel.
  •  My wife (4.00)
    My wife will be in El Salvador for the commemoration.  I'll ask her if she would be interested in writing about it so that I can post it as a diary.

    George W. Bush makes Reagan look smart, Nixon look honest, and his dad look coherent.

    by Dave the pro on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 05:53:47 AM PST

  •  Great diary (none)

    It's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall -- Phil Ochs

    by litho on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 06:30:12 AM PST

    •  I was a young guy in the Jesuits (4.00)
      when Romero died.  My friend, who was another young Jesuit, had been following the developments surrounding Romero in El Salvador with great interest.  We understood there was a prophet that had arisen in our midst.  When we heard that he had been murdered, we were together.  We were horrified but immediately interpreted the event in the light of martyrdom.  When we heard that he had been murdered at the presentation of the gifts during Mass, we both were deeply moved by the profound symbolism of the circumstance.

      DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.

      by DCDemocrat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 06:40:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a beautiful diary (none)
        Are you still a Jesuit?  Our brother school in Chicago, St. Ignatius, was taught by Jesuits.  Now it is a co-ed school but when I was young - all my young male friends went to this school or St. Phillps on West. Side.  

        It sure the hell is heavy, father -- it's my grandchildren's share of the birth tax

        by xanthe on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 11:17:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (4.00)
          I went to a Jesuit high school in San Jose, California, Bellarmine, for four years.  Then I entered the Society of Jesus in 1977.  I was in Santa Barbara, where the novitiate was in those days, for two years, Loyola in Los Angeles for two years, then Catholic University in Washington for a year, and finally, Fordham in New York for a year.  I left in 1983.

          During the course of my intense and wonderful experience in the Jesuits, I realized I am gay; I was young, and I was very frisky, and what I wanted to indulge didn't fit into the model where I was situated.  

          I am older now, and things have changed, but the Society made an immense impression on me.  I am still Catholic and still a believer.

          DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.

          by DCDemocrat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 11:23:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I go to St. Ignatius (4.00)
          I find a great deal of spiritual strength in the theology of the Jesuits and Oscar Romero.
          •  In Chicago? (none)
            I taught for a couple of months at the St. Ignatius in San Francisco.

            DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.

            by DCDemocrat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 11:54:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I go to the one in Chicago (none)
              Only for a little while longer though. Graduation happens faster than you'd think it would
              •  My father is an alum (none)
                He's a proud member of the class of 1951.  He grew up in a working class Irish family, and the opportunities that the school offered him had a major impact on his life.  One of his classmates, who was a major cog in the Daley Machine, remains a close friend to this day.

                Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                by RFK Lives on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 01:42:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I have many happy memories of (none)
                St. Ignatius in Chicago  Only boys went there in the 50's -- that's when I was in high school.  They had to take two years of Greek - and I think four years of Latin.  They were the best kids I knew when I was in high school.  I went to a girls school and I've never regretted it.  I understand that since girls went to St. ignatius - their scores went up.  

                It sure the hell is heavy, father -- it's my grandchildren's share of the birth tax

                by xanthe on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 06:21:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, DCDem (4.00)
    For reminding me of something that I knew about when it happened, and remembered when I saw your diary title, but never understood at all until I read this.

    I was born on Holy Thursday, and my son was born on Easter. Those were already special days to me for any number of reasons.

    Now I have another. Thanks.

    "...psychopaths have little difficulty infiltrating the domains of...politics, law enforcement, (and) government." Dr. Robert Hare

    by RubDMC on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 06:35:40 AM PST

    •  happy birthday to both you and your son (4.00)
      since the days have to be near.

      Romero's life teaches a lesson about becoming lionized.  We all would do well to become ferocious in defense of the poor.

      DCDemocrat: Higher editorial standards than The New York Times.

      by DCDemocrat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 06:43:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Something you'd be interested in (4.00)
    There is currently a movement to have the park at the intersection of 16th & Columbia road renamed in honor of Monsignor Romero.  It's currently named for some obscure 19th century politician- whose family has given their blessing for the renaming.  Of course, the government is dragging its feet on the matter...
  •  Excellent diary (4.00)
    not surprising, considering the source.

    25 years later, we are turning the Middle East into a new version of Latin America.  How many will die this time?

    A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day -- this day we fight

    by jsmdlawyer on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:05:57 AM PST

  •  Awesome Diary (4.00)
    Even though Romero was assassinated before John Negroponte was sent to Central America as the Ambassador to another troubled country, Honduras, I was shocked that the media did not say a word about this shameful period in U.S. history when Bush nominated him.

    If we had a free media, the Negroponte nomination should have sent the country into a state of soul-searching about the crimes committed during this time.

    Instead -- nothing.

    John Stossel looks like a 70s porn star.

    by bink on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:09:13 AM PST

  •  El Salvador (4.00)
    When I was little, my dad took me to see a documentary on the civil war in El Salvador.  I couldn't tell you which documentary, although I do remember that it showed a lot of violence (I think he didn't have a babysitter for me).  At that time I ate all my meals with little baby silverware, including a knife that must have been about like a butter knife.  I just remember leaving the film saying to my dad "I want to send them my knife."  And him trying to explain to me the scope of the violence, the futility of trying to defend yourself as an individual, no matter what kind of knife you had.  That conversation, with a few film images of dead bodies in the street, has always stuck with me.
    •  Interesting contrast. (4.00)
      This is sort of OT, but on the same path I was thinking about in that comment.  I was just reading how among the people arrested trying to bring Terri Schiavo some symbolic water were three children.  I don't know how old those kids are, but I wonder if they're old enough to understand that it was symbolism they were engaged in.  I could well imagine that just as I thought an eating utensil could help someone defend themselves against guns, those kids might think that the police really truly stopped them from saving a woman's life.  And that in contrast to my dad doing his best to explain to me what was really going on, those kids might well be encouraged to spend their lives believing this.  

      I don't know the circumstances.  But the question of how people encourage their kids to think politically is a fascinating and fraught one.  That extends to who we choose as our heroes and how we understand those people and the very nature of heroism.

  •  Thank you for reminding us (4.00)
    "the liturgy where the priest presented his gifts, the bread, the wine, and unexpectedly, himself, to God"  Beautifully written.

    Ask Bush "When will you slash Military Spending, to pay down the incredible deficits that you've grown?"

    by Flann on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:14:32 AM PST

  •  The U.S. role (4.00)
    El Salvador's "civil war" (not to mention the rest of what is disgustingly referred to, still, as "our backyard") is truly horrific. If there were any justice, we would be paying that nation billions in reparations.

    Remember the VP debates between Cheney and Edwards, when Cheney brought up the "success" of U.S. policy in El Salvador?  That was the first posting in my blog - check it out here if you'd like:
    WAL-MARX

    Oscar Romero, may your memory live on in the actions of the living.

    "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

    by matthewc on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:15:19 AM PST

  •  A quote from Romero on abortion... (4.00)
    I expect to be troll-rated, but please take this quote as a reminter everyone on dKos that one can be a progressive hero and still oppose abortion.  

    From peacemakersguide.org

    I also wish to mention the enormous disgrace of killing even in the mother's womb.  Abortion, too, is killing, an abhorrent crime.

    Excerpt from God's Justice Preaching to the Rich and the Poor, Oscar Romero, March 18, 1979

    Let's follow NARAL's lead and push the passing of the Prevention First Act.

    •  amen (4.00)
      that's why i've always admired the Catholics--at least their "culture of life" ethic is more consistent than other denominations...
    •  Catholic Consistency (4.00)
      I respect your point and I think it is an important one.  But I also think it is much more complicated then simply being for or against abortion.

      As a Catholic, my problem with some factions within the Church is that they have pushed anti-abortion measures to the exclusion of all else.  It is neither effective nor moral to speak against abortion, but co-opt the Catholic's message of life on everything from child-care to action against the death penalty simply to placate the radical Evangelicals in a Faustian political arrangement against abortion.

      Oscar Romero, of course, did not do this. He was a hero because he fought for everyone in all stages of life. He had a consistent moral and religious message, and it was that consistency which got him killed. Such steadfastness stands in marked contrast to the hypocrisy of silence which marks those radically conservative bishops willing to excommunicate Catholics who dare to vote for a pro-choice candidate and yet have nothing to say on the death penalty or the like.

      There are encouraging signs though as the US bishops recently spoke out against the death penalty for the first time in 25 years.  Let's hope this trend continues.

      •  Good points. (none)
        I was very saddened by those US bishops who implied that voting for John Kerry was an act of complicity in mortal sin and required confession because of his pro-choice stance... yet said nothing about the sin of supporting that war-mongering, gleeful executioner, champion of the rich, GWB.  The Vatican did rebut the bishops' position, but they did it so low-key that it really didn't matter.

        On the topic of consistency, you really make excellent points.  From my perspective, Cardinal Bernardin's "seamless garment" doctrine on the protection of life, offers the most consistent position on the ethics of human life.  Even so, it's not all cut-and-dried.  I agree with about 90% of what Bernardin says, but I still have problems with his position on euthanasia -- but it is self-consistent.  As in all things, a truly consistent ethic is awfully hard to live by.

    •  One can be progressive and anti-abortion but... (4.00)
      One can be progressive and anti-abortion as long as one doesn't propose legislation that takes away the woman's right to choose.  God doesn't love us by forcing us to do the right thing; He has loved us from the start,unconditionally.  We shouldn't force women to have children they do not want through legislation.

      We should use our moral and compassionate voices to discourage abortion and maintain a consistent position on life.

      Compromise can at least be found in helping reduce abortions with better Planned Parenthood education programs and promotion of contraception.

      Regards,

      Patrick in Pasadena

      •  Yeah, but what happens... (none)
        ...if you believe, truly believe, that abortion is murdering babies.

        If that's what somebody believes, asking them to allow it to be legal is futile, the equivalent of asking somebody to legalize the murder of babies.

        Personally, I think most really rabid anti abortion activists and politicians don't actually think that.  It's more for "punishing women for being such sluts that they got pregnant".  If it really was for preventing the "murder of the unborn", they wouldn't make an exception in the case of rape-because in that case, you can't blame the mother for being a "slut".

      •  I'm a pragmatist. (none)
        From my point of view, we must undertake whatever humane measures we can to reduce the number that occur.  Banning abortion outright seems to me to be infeasible and, in the real world, possibly inhumane.  That being said, I'm not opposed to legislation that keeps abortion legal, but makes it far less convenient (i.e., waiting periods, "right to know" laws).  

        The interest groups on both sides of this issue have done a great disservice by defending extreme positions, i.e., completely ban abortion vs. completely unrestricted abortion.  They've wasted valuable time and common ground.  That's why I'm thrilled that NARAL has taken the first step through the Prevention First Act.

        We need to promote safe, effective, cheap, easy-to-use and widely-available contraception.  We need to streamline the adoption process and provide health care and economic support to women who choose to place their children in the hands of another family.  We also need to create an economic culture of life -- one that supports young families and single parents of modest means.  Nobody should ever have to make the choice between living in poverty and having an abortion.  We also need to work to break the glass-ceilings that keep women with children from attaining their career goals.

        If we do those things, we will likely find abortion to be so rare that there will never be a need to ban it.  Safe, legal and extremely rare -- that's probably the best we can do in the real world.

  •  Thank you so much for this diary! (4.00)
    Romero is one my heroes, and I am grateful to you for remembering this day.
  •  And today, the president of ... (4.00)
    ...El Salvador is the ARENA party's Tony Saca, a former sportscaster who has called Roberto d'Aubisson - the founder of ARENA and a death-squad leader widely reputed to have masterminded the assassination of Romero - the country's greatest hero.
    •  Was it d'Aubuisson (none)
      who actually pulled the trigger?  Originally, I assumed not, but now can't remember if I heard he'd been along on the hit.

      He die of cancer a few years back?  Correct me if...

      (Even here in the states, it's hard for me to see white pickups without thinking of...)

      If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

      by HenryDavid on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 03:28:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Prayer (4.00)
    given by ArchBishop Romero not long before his assassination.  It is one that gives me great strength - and the ability to engage in debate, protest, and activism knowing that I will "lose" in the near term.

    - - - - -

    It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
    The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. * We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. * No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. * This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities. * We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, and opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. * We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
     * Amen *
     - Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero

    I support Soulforce - seeking Justice for God's GLBT children. Please join us.

    by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 10:43:34 AM PST

  •  Archbishop Juan Gerardi (4.00)
    of Guatemala was assassinated in 1998 two days after he announced the findings of the Catholic Church's formal investigation into human rights abuses.
  •  Hi, Thanks for reminding me of this anniversary... (none)
    I remember when it happened but it was only several years later I looked into Romero's life/words and understood fully the US complicity in his death...same as it ever was...
  •  Thank You (none)
    To DCDemocrat for writing such an eloquent and touching diary and to Kos for promoting it to the front page.  
  •  Romero - may he rest in peace (none)
    Sick thing is that Bush has appointed Negroponte - the architect of the program to use the death squads in Central America, to a post in Iraq.

    I'd also like to note that Jean Donovan and 3 other Maryknoll nuns were raped and murdered in 1980 by those same death squads.  Squads that we trained at the School of the Americas - paid for with our tax dollars.

  •  Simply a great post (4.00)
  •  Wow (4.00)
    By some strange cosmic force, I told someone to look into the politics and history of Romero last night (she's studying Latin America politics from a Catholic angle and hadn't heard of him).  I didn't know the date of when he died - so it's weird that it was the eve of the anniversary.

    the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. -jane addams

    by bsmcneil on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 11:50:46 AM PST

  •  Maunday Thursday For A Protestant (4.00)
    I was a supporter of the refugees who fled El Salvador.  I am proud of that, even though some of my friends faced prosecution for doing so.  I heard a young nun speak of her villiage's devastation being done in our name then.  I tried to tell coworkers and friends at the time what was going on, but they preferred to believe the Reagan propaganda that was coming out from our corporate media at the time.  

    Shortly before he died, I watched a movie of Fr Romero humbly walking among the people. The reaction of the people was overwhekming as an image in my mind to this day, almost 30 years later. They reached out to touch him and they wept in joy to see him.

    I also weep because this is Maunday Thursday, the day when Jesus' friends betrayed Him.  The day of Passover when the Angel of Death passed by the doors of God's chosen.  I feel like we betrayed the El Slavadorian people and I am glad that I was one who stayed at the foot of the cross and wept rather than fled.  I observe Passover in my heart as well in hopes that God will choose those like the nun I met who spoke out so bravely.  

    I also laugh because I am glad not because I feel so proud of myself for being there in support, but because we have been blessed with someone who graced this earth and shed some of God's Light on it, rather than the dark shadows hanging long over us in God's name now.  Some of us now know the difference between the false prophets and the true ones.  Because we saw a true man of God in Oscar Romero.  

    Tonight I will weep and laugh at the Service Of Tennebrae because I know that out of the darkness comes the light.  I know the light is far more powerful.  

    Cat in Seattle

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.  During the 80's, Bishop James Hickey dispatched a team of nuns to El Salvador to help many of the parishes that were suffering during the war.   Unfortunately, he later jettisoned many of his progressive values when he became Archbiship, and later, Cardinal of Washington DC.

    Locally, networks of nuns and priests smuggled people out of El Salvador and Guatemala.  An El Salvadorian girl attended our high school for a while.  

    I had so wanted to go down there and help out, but family obligations kept me in Cleveland.  Later, I moved to DC--only to find that there, El Salvador and Guatemala have come to me.

    So I'll repeat a statement I made in an earlier thread.  DC area residents will understand.

    The man who mows your lawn used to own a grocery store.  The woman who cleans your house used to be a teacher.  The man who fixes your car used to be a soccer star, before the soldiers killed his entire family.

    This is the legacy of the US in Central America and it is truly shameful.  

    My heart to Bishop Romero and may we all remember these four brave women as well:

    Jean Donovan
    Sr. Ita Ford, M.M.
    Sr. Maura Clarke, M.M.
    Sr. Dorothy Kazel, M.M.

  •  RIP, Romero. Or actually, don't. (4.00)
    One day, I hope I'll see his likeness in marble on the National Mall.

    I've been thinking alot about the role of religion lately, which, as a second-generation proud secular leftie, I don't often. But Romero was a childhood hero of mine, a man who, like Martin Luther King, Jr., came out of nowhere and lived out the values, deeds and death of Christ.

    Religion, as I know it, is a series of stories we tell ourselves across generations. Some are good, some are bad, most are inbetween and all are open to interpretation. The best are, like rebel folk songs, archetypes of resistance that live in our culture much as recessive traits live in our blood. Through most of history, most of the interpreters have been baddies. Romero was that precious exception, the rebel priest of a rebel faith. May he never rest in peace, but always be at our backsides with a hot poker of justice, urging us on to do the right thing and resist our own oligarchs and death merchants.

    "Senators, you polish a turd/Here in the city we got a word for those who'd bed their beloved Big Bird and make a mockery of our freedoms/It's Hey, MF" -L Reed

    by Septic Tank on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 12:31:19 PM PST

  •  Romero: Hero of the First Rank (none)

    Romero was a great man, just about exactly what a Christian leader ought to be.

    I little doubt America had a role in his murder.

    "If Jesus returns, Karl Rove will kill him." (Harvey Wasserman)

    by proudtinfoilhat on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 01:12:13 PM PST

  •  Just got this (4.00)
    from Sojourners Magazine (it was an ad in their sojomail)

    http://fssca.net/romero/sojourners.html

    group is working to plant trees in El Salvador.

    I know nothing about the group other than sojo accepted the ad for their email - but I've been pleased with other sojo advertisers, thought i'd pass it along.

    I support Soulforce - seeking Justice for God's GLBT children. Please join us.

    by its simple IF you ignore the complexity on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 01:21:53 PM PST

  •  Thanks for remembering him today (4.00)
    We had a prayer service on Monday in my (Catholic) church, that I actually helped plan.  We also showed the movie afterwards.  About 50 people came, pretty good for a Monday night.

    I too am deeply ashamed when I think the role my country had in the deaths of Archbishop Romero, the Jesuits (and their housekeeper and her son), the three American nuns and the lay woman...  We poured over a million dollars a day into that country (sound familiar?) so we too have blood on our hands.

    On this anniversary of his death I offer this prayer:

    Loving God, source of all consolation, by the death and resurrection of Jesus we hope for eternal life. We remember those who have already died, and we pray that they will live with you forever. We remember them with sorrow, for we miss them. We also remember them with the hope of being reunited with them, for we know that death is not the last word. For their lives we give you thanks. Amen.

  •  Prophets always die before their time... (4.00)
    Romero certainly did.  As an admitted Cafeteria Catholic, it is occasionally good to be reminded of people in the church who truly lived their faith.  

    Had it not been for Vatican II, as John XXIII put it, "opening up the windows and letting some air into the church," it is unlikely that Romero would've become a contemporary saint.  Some days, I kind of wish that a Vatican III could be called, or, at least, that the spirit of Vatican II hadn't been gradually extinguished during the current papacy.

    Maybe there is a Romero of 2 in the hierarchy today, but their voices tend to be hidden.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 01:49:47 PM PST

  •  It's a great school (none)
    I wouldn't have gone anywhere else
  •  Thank you for this diary (4.00)
    Archbishop Romero is one of my heroes, and it was through the influence of a Protestant minister at my parents' church in McAllen, Texas who was a great admirer of his (and volunteered at Casa Romero, a shelter for Central American refugees in South Texas), that I am an active Christian today.

    Although Archbishop Romero was certainly the most prominent martyr in Central America during those dark days (and certainly the one, through being killed at the altar while saying mass, whose death was the most horrifying), I was shocked during a recent mission trip to the highlands of Guatemala to realize just how many others there were throughout Central America, including three pastors who were also human rights activists in the very small Mayan presbytery we were visiting, and including the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Guatemala who was beaten to death only two days after a committee that he led issued a report on human rights violations -- the latter being AFTER the supposed "peace agreement" in Guatemala.

    But the deaths of Archbishop Romero, and all of the other martyrs, certainly weren't in vain, since they horrified enough people in this country and around the world that the forces of repression in Central America had to at least curb the worst of their abuses (although by no means all of them, even yet).

    I spent my spare time during our trip in Guatemala reading a biography of Archbishop Romero, which was especially meaningful when spending time with the widows and orphans of other martyrs in Central America.  That was indeed a shameful time in our national history.

  •  Bishop Romero on BBC Radio Today (none)
    As only the BBC can produce these exclusive Radio documentaries.

    A day before he died, Bishop Romero spoke beautiful words of encouragement to his parishioners. Appealing directly to the El Salvador soldiers, to turn away from violence against their own people. Bishop Romero spoke as one of his flock, he was one of them in suffering and joy.

    After a few moments, the BBC reported the broadcast of the next day during celebration of Holy Mass with his people in the crowded Church - a single shot was heard.

    Horrifying and saddening to hear it even 25 years later.

    In the civil war that followed - 80,000 innocent lives were lost.

    PAX Bishop Romero.

    In 2005 - Be liberal: Support our Allies of Democracy on Human Rights, the Environment, Gay and Minority Rights & EU and UN Third World Development Programs & Our Friends

  •  The key for us here, today (4.00)
    is to fight the d'Aubuissons and ARENAS and dictators we have here, and fight them politically and with civil disobedience -- whatever form nonviolent power exists in -- whatever it takes peacefully for us to stop them from getting it to the next level, where we are holding memorials online for those of us who've been snatched away, or hit publicly.

    The risks are so much smaller now, in advance of the repression, and we have our warning of where things might go.

    http://www.warresisters.org/US_military_spending.htm

    This is how we honor Romero.

    If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State...

    by HenryDavid on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 03:49:26 PM PST

  •  How sad... (4.00)
    Searching the news, there is only one story in a United States newspaper about Archbishop Romero (an op-ed in the Boston Globe.  There's also a story about a BBC documentary about the situation in El Salvador then and now.

    How is it that we can let the twenty-fifth anniversary of the murder an honorable man who was killed during a mass pass by unnoticed?

  •  Magnificent. (4.00)
    The struggle for the poor, the disenfranchised, the forgotten ones is never ending. It has claimed many martyrs. But before Oscar Romero was a martyr, he was just a man awakened to his destiny. What destiny might you have, unexpectedly, if you let yourself take it?

    As one who was there observed, "Thousands of people were applauding him, and you could see him grow stronger. It was then that he crossed the threshold. He went through the door. Because, you know, there is baptism by water, and there is baptism by blood. But there is also baptism by the people."

    Where do we start?

    Start wherever you are. In your family. In your neighborhood. In your world. There are wounds close to hand that need healing. Truths too long ignored that need telling.

    In every moment there is a choice to make. To heal, or to maim. To build or to burn. To embrace or to cast away. There will be moments we falter. Because humans do falter.

    But there is always another moment. Another chance. We just have to take them.

    Where is YOUR next chance?

    Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.-Thomas Jefferson
    We are the resistance.

    by boadicea on Thu Mar 24, 2005 at 08:40:50 PM PST

  •  I believe Romero was a great man (none)
    but I have trouble with romanticizing the war in El Salvador to the point a lot of people are. Not just here in DailyKos, but in general.

    The war did not start in 1980. It started way before that although the violence did reach a crescendo after that.

    I remember the kidnappings of foreign and local business people in the 70s. I remember the way they were tortured and killed.

    I also remember the torture and killing of students and those thought to be "terrorists". The nuns and the Jesuit priests.

    I'd like to think it was a civil war in which the poor and oppressed were fighting for justice and freedom. I'm sure most of them really thought they were. And that is the sad part.
    While they thought they were doing that, I believe they were just pawns in a much larger stage. While they were giving their lives for that, the intellectuals lived lives of luxury.

    The US supporting the government, and the Soviet Bloc and other countries like China supporting/arming the guerrillas. (You do realize the guerrillas got arms and training in such places as Angola, Cuba, the USSR right? Not to mention used mercenaries from those countries aswell. I doubt the Soviets, the Cubans, the Chinese  just happened to be -for- "helping the poor.")
    Both just needlessly pushing death, fighting to a stalemate.

    I lost friends, and relatives on BOTH sides during the war. I sympathize with the poor who truly believed they were fighting for justice and equality, but I also sympathize with the hard working "middle class" ( the not so poor) who got what they had through hard work. Unfortunately they were lumped up with the rich, the oligarchy.

    I grew up in ES in a middle class family. Class hatred was so intense that as a kid I was once told by a young guy walking by , no older than 18, that when "they" won(the guerrillas), they were gonna kill my family and take over our house. WTF. I was a little  11 year old kid! . Who planted that bullshit in that guy's head? Who planted that hatred in his head?

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't believe everything you hear about ES. Disinformation campaigns ALWAYS painted a different picture obviously. Historians love to make martyrs and romanticize a story.

    The guerrillas (leadership) weren't right, and neither was the oligarchy/government. People fighting for the poor don't blow up bridges, kill cattle, burn plantations, burn buses, threaten to kill people who dare go out to stand in line to exercise their right to vote whether the elections are rigged or not. Give me a f-ing break.

    On the other hand, everyone who disagrees with the government, or is in his heart truly fighting to change a corrupt and abusive and oppressive system is not a "terrorist".

    The rich and the military were a minority. The FMLN were a minority. You know what most of the people in El Salvador, the majority,  wanted? To work. To be fucking left alone. By both sides.

    Demonized by one side, used by the other. I believe Romero was a great man. A hero. Maybe even a modern day saint. I will honor him as someone who truly loved and cared and was willing to fight for the poor.  

  •  A good example for liberals (4.00)
    Here we have a man of the cloth using his faith to push a liberal vision of the world. It's something we could learn from.

    Faith and morals have been at the core of so many liberal movements, from abolishing slavery, to woman's suffrage, to the fight for civil rights.

    We have forgetten this, and the American public certainly seems to have no memory of this. And it is this forgetting that has allowed the Right-wing zealots to take over "faith" and morals as an issue.

  •  Romero (none)
    DCD,  thank you for the remebrance.

    I visited El Salvador in 1994 for the 2nd anniversary of the peace accords (hosted by the FF radio station, no less!).  I entered the country a proud Republican evangelical, and left ashamed at how I had been decieved by my hero Ronald Reagan, evangelical leaders, and the teachers of my Baptist faith.  

    My son was conceived just after my return and he is named after a much more worthy hero, Oscar.  I like the think of conception as the death of deception, and that Oscar will lead as honest and remarkable life as his namesake did.

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