Romero’s Legacy Examined

By Heather Murphy Hoya Staff Writer

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the execution of Archbishop Oscar Romero, former Massachusetts Congressman Rev. Robert F. Drinan, S.J., commemorated Romero and others in Latin America who have died in the fight for the rights of the poor.

The Georgetown University Knights of Columbus sponsored the event, held in Dahlgren Chapel, which drew approximately 35 members of the Georgetown community.

Karla Giuliano (SFS ’02) whose interest in Romero was sparked by a mass for 10 martyrs earlier in the year said, “I was really impressed by Drinan’s lecture.”

Chad Payeur (COL ’02) said he enjoyed the lecture. “I decided to come because of my interest in liberation theology, and I saw the movie, Romero.”

Drinan visited El Salvador during the ’70s and met with Romero, a champion of human rights. Drinan said Romero supported the working class and poor of El Salvador during El Salvador’s civil war. Romero preached to the people and acknowledged that the El Salvadorian government was corrupt. Romero supported labor unions and the people facing economic and political injustice, Drinan said.

Romero, like Jesuits at Georgetown University, Drinan said, “Attempt to take faith and justice and fuse it with the history of the church to bring basic justice to the people.”

The government viewed Romero as a radical threat, Drinan said. The basic problem in El Salvador, according to the president of El Salvador, was the clergy. The government thought that by stopping the priests, the war would disappear, said Drinan.

“Romero was killed in cold blood while holding mass on March 24, 1980,” he said. Romero is now a martyr. Five other Jesuits and four churchwomen were also killed throughout the civil war. Their murderers were given amnesty by the El Salvadoran government. Drinan said this is in violation of the international covenant on human rights.

Romero and Georgetown University have been connected for many years. Georgetown granted Romero an honorary degree long before they knew his fate, Drinan said. Drinan also said he wants to construct a permanent memorial at Georgetown for the six slain Jesuits.

Drinan said that El Salvador, like many other countries of Latin America, is still mired in poverty and economic injustice. He said that this concerns the Church. He quoted Pope John Paul II, who declared, “Unregulated capitalism is the source of much injustice in Latin America.”

“What is humanity’s obligation to the people of El Salvador?” Drinan asked. He encouraged the audience to involve themselves in the fight for justice. “Become a scholar, learn, study, pray and act,” he said. He encouraged audience members to raise their awareness of injustice by visiting poor countries and volunteering.

The lecture was followed by a viewing of the movie Romero starring Raul Julia in White Gravenor.

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