By Grainne Treanor - 14 October, 2018
El Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero will be canonised today in Rome.
The canonisation is especially welcomed in Ireland by Trócaire, the Irish bishops’ overseas aid agency, which had formed a close working relationship with Archbishop Romero.
Trócaire had been working with him for more than a year before his assassination in San Salvador in 1980. Only weeks before he was martyred, Archbishop Romero wrote to the then-head of Trócaire, Bishop Eamon Casey, thanking him, the aid agency and the Irish Bishops’ Conference for their assistance with “various very useful projects”.
Particularly useful was a radio station, part funded by Trócaire. The Archbishop was writing to his Irish supporters to say the station had been bombed, and to ask for US$23,000 to buy replacement radio transmission equipment.
Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra said this trans-Atlantic relationship began when Trócaire started to fund the El Salvador Human Rights Commission, which was founded by Archbishop Romero following the unlawful killing of 8,000 people.
“The Archbishop used archdiocesan radio to inform the largely illiterate population of their rights. Archbishop Romero’s murder was a reprisal for his unflinching defence of human rights and he paid the ultimate price for that defence,” Ms de Barra said.
“Archbishop Romero’s values, conviction and compassion still influence Trócaire today and help guide us in our work. Our staff around the world, and particularly in central America, will be thinking of Archbishop Romero this Sunday as he is canonised.”
Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. He spoke out publicly against the poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture that were rife in his country. In 1980, Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence.