Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was a great hero of the struggles for liberation in Latin America during that region's "long dark night," a period lasting from the 1960s through the 1980s. He was an archbishop very briefly, a mere three years, 1977-1980, and he was an unlikely hero. The upper hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America was firmly allied with the economic and political elite. But Archbishop Romero emerged as the "voice of the oppressed" in El Salvador after he reached the pinnacle of that hierarchy. His remarkable transformation into a defender of the poor and oppressed when he had reached such a privileged professional and institutional status marks him as one of the most extraordinary figures in history. His assassination elevated him to the level of martyr for almost all of the peasants and workers who fought in desperation to free themselves from the oppressive conditions they faced in El Salvador. His martyrdom is honored throughout many other countries in Latin America. Among religiously motivated North American opponents of neocolonialism, no name is more revered than Romero. Romero's brief reign as archbishop and his transformation from a mild-mannered theologian into a hero of the struggle for "human rights" is chronicled, in a way, in a low-budget film, Romero. Jonathan Harris
As Archbishop of San Salvador, Father Romero was a source of strength and hope for the poor and for the oppressed of his country, working with and for them, taking their struggles as his own. Romero wrote and spoke passionately and publicly of the need for Christians to work for justice, frequently faced with threat and danger from those who opposed his ideas. On March 24, 1980, while celebrating the Eucharist, Archbishop Romero was shot and killed at the altar by a death squad assassin, paying the highest price for the commitment about which he spoke so often and so eloquently. Because of his courageous...