Oscar Romero

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If one seeks to fully comprehend the complexity surrounding the life and untimely death of Oscar Romero, they must initially be exposed to the notion of liberation theology. The theory of liberation which emphasises social and economic justice for the poor, became a major force in El Salvadoran Catholicism. El Salvador is a country with its foundations in religion, a religion entwined with political dogma. El Salvadorians were confronted by a structured society which neglected the division, primarily the economic separation of the community. As a result of a poverty stricken existence under the guidance of a political system - a conglomeration of conservatives intentionally ignoring the problem, thus conserving current status and order, a revolutionary Christian group was formed. The Church and the State exhibited themselves as conservative allies, thus resulting in a multitude of radical groups formed - Jesuits, Marxists and liberation theologists collectively enforcing through action, the needs of the people. One such revolutionary - Oscar Romero, underwent a dramatic transition in relation to the disharmony within his native country from the period of his appointment to Archbishop. This essay will focus primarily on the changes exhibited by Romero during his period of status within the Church hierarchical system, and examine briefly the concept and consequent outcome of liberation theology. Integrity is a primary attribute in relation to the common ideal of all good men, but is particularly expected of those in positions of authority. Such promotion of status is based upon an individual's ability to display certain virtues, or perhaps initially in the case of Romero, appointment occurred with underlying intent on behalf of the electors. It is probable that prior to his appointment to Archbishop by Pope Paul VI, he exhibited a tendency to passiveness, thus resulting, quite ironically in his prime candidacy. Romero's rise through the ranks of the Catholic church was not a route to Episcopal power, he was by disposition quite reserved and conventional. Preceding his direct exposure to the horrors of the civil war, he was somewhat hesitant in defining his existent stance between the conservative forces within the community and the revolutionaries. However, an act of misguided vengeance resulting in the tragic deaths of Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande and Father Alfonso Navarro respectively, strengthened Romero's perspective. The consequent development of courage enabled him to voice his beliefs in relation to the injustice within El Salvadoran society, hence generating an encouragement of faith throughout the Catholic population. Among Romero's most commonly recognised contributions in the struggle against faction dictatorship and exploitation, were his reproval of the intemperance of the Gen. Carlos Romero and the unjustifiable savagery exhibited by the national guard. Romero consistently devised pastoral letters and held public prayer session which resulted, inevitably in his identification as 'the voice of the people.' Romero was aware of the hypocritical dogma of the existent pseudo democracy, thus he exposed to the world the oppression suffered by the Salvadoran impoverished. Initially, there existed within Romero an element of fear in relation to the negatively dominant influences on the lives of the general populace - the conservatives of the church, the government, the national guard and the guerrilla revolutionary forces. However, such fear was diminished and in its place an innate strength flourished, a transition from a man of word to one of action - with not even the slightest exhibition of pretensciousness. This portrayal of outspoken leadership posed a threat to those forces who held conflicting views, thus resulting in Romero's eventual destiny - his martyrdom. Oscar Romero was assassinated at 6:30 p.m. on Monday 24th March 1980 in the Chapel of the Divine Providence in San Salvador. His elimination generated a shockwave of grief throughout the predominantly Catholic nation, beloved and idolised by those for whom he exhibited protection and campaigned for justice - the campesinos or peasants. The unjustified slaying of innocent civilians continued post-assa

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