Churches remember and celebrate a hero of the poor and oppressed

By staff writers
March 28, 2010

As churches across the country commemorate Palm Sunday, which marks Jesus entry into Jerusalem, many are continuing to remember Archbishop Oscar Romero 's costly stand for the poor - for which he was murdered in 1980.

Bishop William Kenney CP, Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Birmingham presided and preached at a special service at St Chad's Cathedral in honour of Archbishop Romero last Wednesday, the 30th anniversary of his assassination.

Other churches will be remembering the courageous Central American Christian leader today - making the link between his refusal to be silenced by oppressive power and the US-backed death squads operating in El Salvador at the time, and Jesus' going to Jerusalem on a donkey to contrast the power of love with the love of power shown by the political and religious authorities of his day.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated in his home city of San Salvador on Sunday 24 March 1980. He was celebrating Mass in the chapel of a hospice for cancer patients.

Archbishop Bernard Longley, who returned last Wednesday from a six-day visit to El Salvador, spoke briefly at the end of the special Mass about his visit on behalf of CAFOD - the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development.

More than 200 people from parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham attended the service.

Bishop Kenney dclared: "Peace belongs to forgiveness. Without forgiveness there is no real peace. Peace is much more than the absences of war and violence. Peace and forgiveness means acceptance of my sisters and brothers."

He continued: "Archbishop Oscar Romero relived this when he said: 'I am bound, as a pastor, by divine command to give my life for those whom love, and that is all Salvadoreans, even those who are going to kill me'."

There was a short film and presentation about Archbishop Oscar Romero and the work of CAFOD in El Salvador after the service.

Roisin O'Hara, CAFOD Regional Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean spoke passionately about Archbishop Romero. She said: "It is no coincidence that CAFOD is based at Romero Close, in London."

The name change of the road was approved by the authorities some years ago.

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast which always falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday.

Also on Ekklesia: 'Spirituality and politics: Oscar Romero's legacy', by Savitri Hensman -

'A Future Not Our Own', by Archbishop Oscar Romero:


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