Posts Tagged ‘Romero’

Romero’s Legacy: 35 Years Later

March 27, 2015

“We cannot remain quiet in such an unjust world.”

The last week has drawn thousands of people together from around the world to honor the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Oscar Romero. From marches to forums to meals shared, the silence of injustice was broken and Romero’s Legacy of Truth, Justice, and Peace lived on in a very tangible, inspiring way.

“We suffer with those who have disappeared, those who have had to flee their homes, and those who have been tortured.” Read More »

Drew Delegation: A Photo Essay

January 21, 2015

Today, we say Adios to the delegation from Drew Theological Seminary! They were truly a wonderful group to accompany throughout the country of El Salvador. Enjoy the following pictures and quotes that were heard along the way.



“We shouldn’t talk about Monsenor Romero. We should talk like Monsenor Romero. We should act like Monsenor Romero.” Sister Noehmy from Pequeña Comunidad



“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.” Monseñor Oscar Romero



“Food Sovereignty is the basic human right to access to clean food and water.” Kristi Van Nostran

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Monsignor Romero and Martyrdom

March 19, 2014

Pastor Miguel Tomás Castro shares this reflection he provided to the magazine “Sentir con el Pueblo” in autumn of 2013.  Pastor Miguel is general pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jacinto, San Salvador.  Emmanuel Baptist is one of the few Salvadoran Protestant churches that continues to keep alive the memory of Monsignor Romero and his prophetic voice, referring frequently to his teachings to illustrate the Gospel.

Reflecting on the martyrdom of Monsignor Romero may seem a very simple and easy thing, but it’s not.  It’s not easy, simply because the concept of martyrdom in Monsignor Romero is not a theological concept, nor a philosophical idea.  It is the concept of a Pastor and a Prophet, who assumed faith with a clarity regarding its implications in reality and in history.


In his homily from July 24, 1977, he tells us:  “The Church cannot keep silent before these economic, political and social injustices.  If the Church didn’t speak it would be an accomplice of marginalization, of an unhealthy and sinful conformity … “

In this sense, now that we want to rescue the tradition of martyrdom, we want to do it in the same spirit as Monsignor Romero, in his spirituality that encouraged him and illuminated him in his prophetic ministry.  This is clear in his homily from August 14, 1977, when Monsignor Romero says: “The prophet has to disturb society when they are not acting in accordance with God.”  There is deep wisdom in his words, because when a Christian assumes his or her faith responsibly, living out one’s faith not just intimately, but also living it out in all dimensions of relationships, be they human, political, social, or economic relationships, faith is itself an outcry against injustice, an outcry that calls out the reality behind God’s back, and converts to God.  Faith converts to the justice of God.

From this conscience, Monsignor Romero was capable of saying: “Sisters and Brothers, on the occasion of my birthday, I have been able to understand once again that my life does not belong to me.  Instead, it belongs to you,” from his Homily on August 21, 1977.

It is this clarity of faith that made Monsignor Romero not just a consistent Christian, but a pastor, a prophet consistent with and faithful to God, always seeking His justice among us.

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The Latest on Tutela Legal: Attorney General Intervenes, Archbishop Changing Discourse

October 28, 2013

"Historic memory is not private property."

“Historic memory is not private property.”

Just over three weeks have passed since Monsignor José Luis Alas Escobar, Archbishop of San Salvador issued a decree to close Tutela Legal, the Archdiocese’s renowned human rights legal aid office, and every week the situation becomes more complex. The Archbishop continues to change his discourse about the reasons for the closure. Victims’ access to the office’s archives, which include documentation of over 50,000 cases of human rights violations, including 80% of the cases in the 1993 Truth Commission report, remains questionable.

In the most shocking intervention since the initial bombshell of Tutela’s closure, on Friday October 18th, representatives of the Attorney General’s Office forcefully entered the Archdiocese declaring their intent to seize the archives. The media began to announce the presence of the representatives of the Attorney General’s Office in Tutela Legal around four in the afternoon, and members of human rights organizations gathered outside the Archdiocese to verify the proceedings.

David Morales, Human Rights Ombudsman immediately requested entrance for his representatives, but both the Attorney General and the Archdiocese denied their entry. A police unit, however, was allowed in. Members of human rights organizations asked Monsignor Urrutia why representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office were not allowed in and he simply lifted his hands, as if washing them of responsibility.  Representatives of FESPAD reported that around 8:30 in the evening, two trucks and a lab vehicle with the back end covered belonging to the Attorney General’s office and a car with its license plates covered exited the Archdiocese. Covering license plates was a tactic commonly used by death squads in the 1980s.

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Press Conference Decries Closure of Tutela Legal and Call to Action

October 5, 2013

ACTION ALERT: SHARE AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS WILL CONTINUE TO COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY PRESS STATEMENT MENTIONED BELOW THROUGH MONDAY AT MIDNIGHT. We will publish the press release in a Salvadoran newspaper. Please contact Bethany Loberg, to sign on or send a contribution. We seek signatures from organizations and from religious, academic, and human rights leaders. We will be sending an action alert individuals can participate in on Monday or Tuesday next week.

Victims and Human Rights  Organizations gather outside the Archdiocese's offices

Victims and Human Rights Organizations gather outside the Archdiocese’s offices

This morning, representatives of a variety of human rights organizations, members of Christian Base Communities, and victims of human rights abuses held a press conference to denounce the actions of Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of El Salvador to close Tutela Legal, the Archdiocese’s human rights legal aid office on Monday. This blatant disregard for human rights has divided the Catholic Church and infuriated many groups that continue to fight for justice. The conference took place outside of the Archdiocese´s offices and included the reading of a press statement and a moving letter to the papal nuncio signed by nearly thirty civil society organizations, including CODEFAM, COMADRES, FESPAD, PROBUSQUEDA. CPDH Madeleine Lagadec, the National Health Forum, the San Antonio Abad Christian Base Community, and FUNDAHMER, amongst others. The conference also featured the reading of a press release expressing the solidarity of the international community.

Representatives of Salvadoran human rights organizations expressed their grave concerns regarding the abrupt closure of Tutela Legal. In addition to indignation at the way the employees of Tutela Legal were treated, they worry that this is a measure to ensure impunity for past human rights violations will persist. The press release expressed four explicit demands:

1. Guarantee the integrity and security of all Tutela Legal’s case files of human rights violations, permitting the victims access to their files.

2. Revoke the decision to close Tutela Legal.

3. Declare Tutela Legal’s archive of human rights violations historic and cultural heritage.

4. An invitation to the Archbishop to reflect on his decision to close Tutela Legal and publicly ask pardon for his actions, or otherwise be removed from his office or resign.

reading press statement

The international solidarity press release signed by over 30 organizations, including all the historic U.S.-El Salvador solidarity organizations as well as the Center for Justice and Accountability, School of the Americas Watch, Sojourners Magazine, Friends of Co-Madres, and the National Lawyers Guild Task Force on the Americas, expressed outrage at the closure of Tutela Legal and concern that Tutela Legal’s archives be respected. The statement emphasizes solidarity with the first two key demands of Salvadoran civil society: a guarantee for the security of all of Tutela Legal’s records and access for the victims, and secondly, to reverse the decision to close the legal aid office, to reinstate the staff members fired unjustly, and above all to maintain the same spirit of work instilled by Archbishop Romero and  Archbishop Arturo Rivera Damas, and Dr. Maria Julia Hernandez. Full press release in English here: FINAL International Solidarity Tutela Legal ENGLISH-1.

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Sign the Petition to Declare August 30th the Day of the Disappeared

August 15, 2013

Today, August 15th, 2013 we celebrate the birth of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a man whose words and example continue to reverberate through El Salvador and the world. During his Sunday morning homilies as Archbishop, Monseñor Romero always gave voice to the names of the victims of forced disappearance each week. He spoke constantly for human rights, truth, justice, and love. He supported the COMADRES from the very beginning of their search for their disappeared loved ones.  The victims of human rights violations together with the organizations of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission continue to speak and act for justice today. One of the reparations they have called for since the 1990s is to have a day dedicated to the victims of forced disappearance, but they need our help to make it happen.

We invite YOU to take action in memory of Monseñor Romero: Sign a petition to call on the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly to declare August 30th the National Day of the Detained and Disappeared!


Declare August 30th The Day of the Victims of Forced Disappearance


168 signatures

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Martyr for Truth & Justice

April 2, 2013

On the 24th of March we commemorated 33 years since Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero’s assassination, our pastor, friend, and voice of the humble, the poor and oppressed.  Despite threats he continued to denounce the injustices and oppression that we were living until the death squads ended his life. They believed they were going stop the people’s struggle for justice and the establishment of a democratic system where human rights are respected, in which there is freedom of expression and a reduction in social inequalities.

IMG_3967However, history tells us this was not the case. The people rose up in the struggle in different moments, with twelve years of armed conflict, more than 75,000 assassinated, and thousands forcibly disappeared. In 1992, the Peace Accords were signed, which put an end to the conflict, opened spaces for political and social participation, created new institutions like the National Civil Police (PNC), the Human Rights Ombudsman, etc. The Truth Commission responsible for investigating the grave crimes committed during the conflict indicate in their report that those responsible for the assassination of Monseñor Romero were the death squads from the extreme right, composed of civilians and military men, commanded by Major Roberto D’Aubuisson (founder of the ARENA party) and Captain Álvaro Saravia.

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Reflections of El Salvador

December 21, 2012

 Written by Sister Theresa Saetta, RSM of her time in El Salvador during the Honoring Women Religious Delegation.

While the scenes of assassination have been transformed into memorials, chapels, and a rose garden in El Salvador, the memories of the people who knew, loved, evangelized with, and were saved by the men and women martyrs remains startlingly fresh and immediate.  Each day of our pilgrimage brought us ever closer to the women martyrs, Ita, Maura, Dorothy and Jean, as well as Oscar Romero, the Jesuits of the University of Central America, and their housekeeper and her daughter, Elba and Celina.

photo (9)

Delegates carry a banner of the martyrs of Chalatenango to the cemetery where Ita and Maura are buried.

Nothing, except a personal lived experience of those days of repression in El Salvador, could have prepared one for the events described so vividly and painfully by the eye witnesses or first responders who met with us there.  In the very chapel where Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered, during a prayer of reflection on his life, each one of us stood and spoke a word describing Romero.  Words like: Courageous, Martyr, Bishop of the Marginalized, Conversion, Evangelizer, committed to the Poor, began pouring forth like a waterfall, a litany of a life lived on the edge, on purpose, just like Jesus.

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Court Orders Government to Investigate El Mozote Massacre

December 14, 2012

The Salvadoran military systematically assassinated over 800 men, women, and children in the massacre

On Monday, December 10th, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a long awaited ruling on the El Mozote massacre case. The Court condemned the government as responsible for the massacre, for this violation of life. As part of the ruling, the Court ordered the Salvadoran government to investigate those responsible for the El Mozote massacre, citing that the 1993 amnesty law does not cover war crimes that occurred during the civil war.

Throughout the war, the government repeatedly committed acts of extreme cruelty and violence, and the El Mozote massacre was undoubtedly one of the most brutal. On December 11th, 1981, Salvadoran armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages. They then rounded up, separated, and systematically killed nearly 1,000 men, women, and children. Only one survived. Over half of the victims were children. The massacre is just one war atrocity among many for which the Salvadoran government is responsible as the state implemented its policy of terror against its people; it remains burned into the collective Salvadoran memory as the most horrific violation against human life.

Up until recently, national Salvadoran courts refused to investigate the killings, using the 1993 amnesty law to avoid responsibility for the long list of human rights they so cruelly violated in December 1981. Because of this impunity, human rights organizations like Tutela Legal took the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and then to the Inter-American Court in 2011. However, Monday’s ruling is encouraging in the fight for truth, justice, and reparations for the crimes committed. Among other things, the Inter-American Court ordered the Salvadoran government to enact the following remedial measures:

i) continue compiling a Register of Victims and Relatives of Victims of the massacre  
ii) perform investigations of the events,  
iii) ensure that the Amnesty Law does not represent an obstacle to investigations,  
iv) investigate the conduct of officials who obstructed the investigation

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VMM Delegation Commemorates with the Romero Coalition

November 19, 2012

Patricia Garcia from COMADRES (Committee of Mothers Monsignor Romero) and participant in the Romero Coalition (Concertacion Romero) accompanied VMM delegates to Romero’s crypt

When Patricia was imprisoned in El Salvador and exiled to Mexico for her role as a human rights activist, she thought of the moment when, at nine years old, she shook hands with Monseñor Romero. His support through out her time in prison and Both his support in her life while imprisoned and his current role in her life have greatly influenced her work as an activist.

A victim of the violence and oppression of the paramilitary and government, Patricia is a part of the Romero Coalition. The Coalition is working to obtain justice in the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and for the more than 8000 other victims of the right-wing regime in El Salvador during the armed conflict. A delegation from SHARE and the Volunteer Missionary Movement had the privilege of meeting Patricia during the week long VMM delegation in October.

Delegates spent the week learning about the Salvadoran reality and the work of VMM missioners for justice in Central America. Among the delegation were VMM board members, VMM founder Edwina Gately, supporters and friends. Included were SHARE’s Sistering Accompaniment Coordinator and Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator, as well as several missioners in Nicaragua and Guatemala, all of whom are all supported by VMM-USA.

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