Yesterday, I watched the movie Romero, about Óscar Romero who was a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador in late 70's and early 80's. Monseigneur Romero was promoted to the status of archbishop in very troubled times for his country. Authoritative government used a military regime to terrorize anyone they perceived to be against themselves.
His appointment to archbishop was met with surprise and dismay by his fellow bishops. While this appointment was welcomed by the government, many priests were disappointed, especially those openly aligning with Marxism. The Marxist priests feared that his conservative reputation would negatively affect liberation theology's commitment to the poor. They thought, in other words, that he would stick with the wealthy crowd, leading an insulated life of dinner parties and private baptisms for the rich and ignoring the civil unrest around him. However, soon enough, Romero's timidness and reluctance to make waves and get involved in politics turned around.
A Jesuit priest and Romero's best friend Rutilio Grande, who had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor peasants, was assassinated. His death had a profound impact on Romero who later stated, "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, 'If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path'". Romero urged the government to investigate, but they ignored his request. Furthermore, the censored press remained silent. People who happened to be in the car with father Grande, a little boy and an older gentleman, were also killed. Romero witnessed the father of the little boy have a mental breakdown as he wiped blood from his 7-year-old son's face. Three innocent vicitms lying there in a pool of blood and not even a line in a local newspaper! In response to father Rutilio's murder, Romero revealed a radicalism that had not been evident earlier. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. He gathered huge crowds at his sermons and welcomed the poor into his office at any time of day and night. As a result, Romero began to be noticed internationally. In February 1980, he was given an honorary doctorate by the Catholic University of Leuven.
Schools were shut down and churches were used as barracks to station armies in various cities around El Salvador, and guerrillas were everywhere. People were kidnapped for ransom and students were killed for suspicion of being against the government, with a cover up statement that they must have been a communist. Witnessing ongoing violations of human rights, Romero initiated and gave his status to a group which spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victims of the Salvadoran civil war. Romero was pushed, threatened, and shot at by the military when trying to reclaim a church so that he can serve Eucharist to the hundreds of attendants on a Sunday.He was even briefly incarcerated for arguing with a military leader in an attempt to prevent torturing of the citizens who went to jail for a non-violent demonstration.
In 1980, as he finished giving his homily during Mass, Romero was assassinated by a right-wing group, for openly speaking out against the war and condemning extremists of both parties. He was shot through the heart with a military rifle and his blood spilled all over the altar. His assassination provoked an international outcry for reform in El Salvador.
In 1997, a cause for canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero, and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, including the Church of England through the Calendar in Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London.
Archbishop Romero's funeral was attended by more than 250,000 mourners from all over the world.
Although a very depressing movie, it is only so because it is based on true facts and not "enhanced" by Hollywood. The events in the movie happened in real life, and it is very sad that not only this actually took place, but also that it still goes on in various parts of the world today. Innocent people die for what they believe in and many lives go wasted in these heroes' attempts at speaking out for their nation. I just thought I had to share this with you all, because the movie touched me and I cried in certain parts of it. Here is the link to the IMDB page with all the info about it, if anyone wants to rent it. It is definitely worth a look.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098219/