Thirty years have passed since the death of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was killed on the altar on March 24th 1980, with a rifle shot while he was celebrating Mass.
The Community of Sant’Egidio has been present in Salvador for many years and it lives the memory of Bishop Romero.
This year, a young member of the Community, William Quijano, was killed by a gang becasue he was engaged with the Community to save the children and the young people from violence in the district of Apopa.
Romero lived and preached faith in the Central America pheriphery during the cold war. He was a bishop who lived in difficult times. He and his church were a guide towards peace even when one could not see a political solution for the future. He believed in the force of faith: «Above all tragedies, of blood and violence there is a word of faith and hope that says: there is a way out. We Christians have a force that is unique». He remains a model of a faithful Bishop. Bishop Romero was at the service of the Gospel and of the Church. His Motto was Sentir con la Iglesia . And his priority: salus animarum (Salvation of the souls).
During the celebration of the new martyrs in 2000, John Paul II remembered him with these words: «Zelous pastors like the unforgettable Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered on the altar during the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice».
Romero was a martyr in the extreme periphery of the Cold Warf. Thirty years after his death, free from the passion of those who were involved in that moment in history, but still not so far away in time to be able to understand the tragedy and the exemplariness of his figure, we must have the courage to reckon with this martyr who is a son of the Church and who, from the Church was expecting everything. In the history of the spirit, that runs deep beyond the immediate news and passions, Romero remains a crucial figure: becasue he was a martyr.