During Romero’s beatification in San Salvador last May, March 24th was also recognized as his feast day, yet this year the date marks Holy Thursday and will therefore not be celebrated as an official saints day.
The popular archbishop was gunned down by hired assassins because he had become an increasingly outspoken opponent of the El Salvador’s military leadership, making public each week a list of victims of the civil war. His murder came one day after a sermon in which he had called on Salvadoran soldiers to stop killing and carrying out human rights violations.
In many countries across the world Romero has long been revered as ‘the voice of voiceless’, an inspirational figure for all who give their lives for the Gospel values of human dignity, justice and peace.
As the former director of the English Catholic aid agency CAFOD, Julian Filochowsky knew and worked with Archbishop Romero during his three years as head of the Church in the Latin American nation. Today Filochowsky heads the London based Romero Trust which works to celebrate and share his legacy throughout the Church and beyond. Philippa Hitchen talked to him about that legacy and about the coincidence of Romero’s first feast day falling on the Thursday of Holy Week which you can listen to here.
The night before he was murdered while celebrating Mass, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador said on the radio: “I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police, and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says ‘Do not kill!’ should prevail.
”No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is the time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin. . . . Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: ‘Cease the repression!
Previous posts on SS102fm about Oscar Romero
Canonization, not beatification, opens the way to being on the universal Church’s calendar, not just a local calendar. Sometimes the Church allows for much wider observance and cult of mere Blesseds, depending on their popularity.
So, for the whole Church, even were tomorrow not Holy Thursday, which bumps every other consideration off the calendar because our focus ought to be on the Institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood and the beginning of the Lord’s Passion (and not on political agendas or other sidelines), we don’t celebrate Bl. Oscar Romero liturgically this year.