Series to commemorate archbishop’s death

Amy Knop-Narbutis

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Peace and Justice Center has planned a series of events entitled “Oscar Romero’s 25th Anniversary Lecture Series: Witnessing to Peace,” honoring his dedication to the poor and oppressed.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated as he stood at the altar of a cancer hospice blessing the terminally ill. His murder was an act of political revenge: he had stood up against the Salvadoran government whose oligarchy and military systematically repressed the impoverished and had begun to persecute the Catholic Church for teaching about the “preferential option for the poor.”

During Romero’s time as archbishop, four priests were assassinated and 23 others were exiled or tortured by the Salvadoran regime.

Despite receiving direct threats to his life, Romero continued to defend the church and the oppressed people of his country.

The next day, he ended his final Eucharistic homily with these words: “May this body immolated and this blood sacrificed for humans nourish us also, so that we may give our body and blood to suffering and to pain like Christ, not for self, but to teach justice and peace to our people.”

Immediately afterward, he was shot in the chest.

Before Easter break, on Tuesday at 4 p.m., the Peace and Justice Center will show “Romero,” a compelling look into the Archbishop’s life.

Following Easter break, the series will continue with a concert entitled “Songs of Social Justice,” featuring Corey Dolgon and Jim Pennell.

Dr. Hugh Lacey of Swarthmore College will also give a lecture on Romero, entitled, “Prophet, Voice of the Voiceless and Advocate of Human Rights.” The lecture series continues with Professor Anita Isaacs of Haverford College, who will speak about “When Memory is a Thorn: Truth and Trauma in Postwar Guatemala.”

Professor John Langan of Georgetown University will also give a lecture entitled “Moral Goals and Moral Dilemmas After an Unjust War.”

On Sunday, March 20 the University religious community will remember Romero’s martyrdom at the 6 p.m, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Masses. Joyce Zavarich of the University’s Peace and Justice Center will be traveling to El Salvador with a delegation from St. Joeseph’s University to commemorate Romero’s death there.

The greater Philadelphia area offers a plethora of other events to attend. For instance, on Sunday, April 3 at 3 p.m. in the Episcopal Cathedral on 38th and Chestnut Streets, there will be gathering of religions at the “Interfaith Service Remembering the Prophetic Vision of Archbishop Oscar Romero & Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.”