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Saints August 25, 2017

VIDEO: Forever With El Salvador

On March 24, 1980, San Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while saying Mass, in apparent retaliation for his vocal defense of the rights of El Salvador's poor. Pope Francis beatified him in 2015. Blessed Oscar Romero is expected to be canonized in 2018.

In Dallas, more than 500 people gathered Aug. 15 for a Mass at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Dallas, with Bishop Edward J. Burns paying homage to a man he called courageous and who never stopped fighting for his people.  

Bishop Burns recently had traveled to El Salvador as part of his work on the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services and was inspired to organize a Mass and celebration to honor Blessed Romero on the Feast of the Assumption and what would have been his 100th birthday.

Blessed Romero was born Aug. 15, 1917, and hundreds of people gathered at San Salvador’s cathedral on Aug. 15 for a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Ricardo Ezzatti of Santiago, Chile, who served as Pope Francis’ special envoy for the celebration and called Blessed Romero “a martyr of hope.” Masses also were celebrated in other parts of the country.

Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez of San Salvador and a close friend of Blessed Romero gave a presentation on the archbishop’s life and work during a Mass on Aug. 12 in the western Santa Ana Diocese.

Too many people in El Salvador “continue to call martyrs those who picked up arms and died following an ideal” in the country’s 12-year-long civil war, the cardinal wrote in an article for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

The country’s real martyrs, the cardinal said, “never stained their hands with blood,” and they were “men and women who strove to love God and their neighbors.”

The real martyrs of El Salvador, he said, are Blessed Romero, “the assassinated priests and the four U.S. women—three religious and a laywoman—whose lives were taken in December 1980,” referring to Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, a laywoman.

In addition, he wrote, “we all have a debt that we must begin to settle as soon as possible. We are obliged out of gratitude to God and love for the truth to redeem the memory of hundreds of anonymous martyrs, most of whom were humble campesinos.”

“For us, martyr means witness,” he said. “We must walk with them in the name of Christ.”

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Video: Forever With El Salvador