In this place he began to approach the difficult political situation in his country, where for decades ruled the Army. He was involved in the issue squarely once appointed archbishop of El Salvador in 1977. His repeated denunciations of the military and revolutionary violence, which reached to the murder of priests, gave an important international prestige. This did not stop the next day to pronounce a homily in which he asked the soldiers not to kill, was shot dead on the altar of his cathedral.
He was the son of Santos Romero and Guadalupe Galdamez, both twins; his father was a telegraph profession. He studied first with Claretian, very young then entered the Minor Seminary of San Miguel, capital of the homonymous department. From there he moved in 1937 to the American Pio Latino College in Rome, where she studied with Jesuits. In Rome, but failed to graduate in theology, priest (1942) was ordered.
The following year, once returned to El Salvador, he was appointed pastor of the small place of Anamorós (province of La Union), then pastor of the church of Santo Domingo and in charge of the church of San Francisco (Diocese of San Miguel). Worker and traditionalist usually devoted to serving poor and orphaned children. In 1967 he was appointed Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador (CEDES), establishing his office in the Seminary of San José de la Montaña, led by Jesuits, was CEDES headquarters. Three years after Pope Paul VI ordained auxiliary bishop of El Salvador.
Then critical of the new open by Vatican Council II (1962-1965) tract, Monsignor Romero had no good relations with Archbishop Chavez and Gonzalez, nor with a second auxiliary bishop, Arturo Rivera y Damas. Moved by that position, he changed weekly Guidance line (which has since decreased markedly issue). He also attacked, without much effect, the Externado San José and the Central American University (UCA), educational institutions run by Jesuits, and finally the Jesuits themselves, helping them aside in 1972 for the formation of seminarians (replaced by diocesan priests and he appointed Rector, the seminar was forced to close half a year later).
Although this series of failures, enjoyed the support of the Apostolic Nuncio in Rome, and was appointed bishop of Santiago de Maria in 1974. Of great pastoral dedication, he promoted associations and spiritual movements preaching every Sunday in the cathedral, and visited poorest peasants. Well seen why the priests of his diocese, was reproached certain lack of organization and individualism. In 1975, the murder of several farmers (who were returning from a religious act) by the National Guard did you meet for the first time to the serious political situation.
Other relevant issues
Thus, when the February 8, 1977 he was appointed Archbishop of El Salvador, successive expulsions and killings of priests and lay people (especially the priest Rutilio Grande) convinced him the military government of Coronel Arturo Armando Molina. Monsignor Romero asked the President a research excommunicated those responsible, held a single mass on March 20 attended by a hundred thousand people, and decided not to attend any meetings with the government until the murder was not clarified (he did at the inauguration of President Carlos Humberto Romero of July 2). He also promoted the creation of a “Standing Committee to ensure the human rights situation”.
The Nuncio was called to order, but in April he went to Rome to inform the Pope, who was favorable. In El Salvador, the president tightened repression against the Church (accusations against the Jesuits, new expulsions and killings, attacks and threats of closure means of ecclesiastical communication). In his Sunday homilies at the cathedral and his frequent visits to different populations, Monsignor Romero repeatedly condemned the violent abuses of the Church and the Salvadoran society.
In June 1978 he returned to Rome and, as before, was reprimanded by some cardinals and supported by Paul VI. He went therefore with the same attitude of complaint, earning the enmity of the Salvadoran government and international admiration. Georgetown University, US, and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1978 and 1980 respectively; Some MPs proposed him for the Nobel Peace Prize 1979 and received in 1980 the “Peace Prize” from the hands of the Lutheran Swedish Ecumenical Action.
It dissatisfied with the performance of the new Governing Board, established in 1979, intensified calls for all political, economic and social conditions forces, the Board and the army, owners, people’s organizations, priests and even to groups terrorists to assist in the reconstruction of El Salvador and organize a truly democratic system. The February 17, 1980 he wrote a long letter to US President Jimmy Carter, asking that cancels all military aid, strengthened as an oppressive power.
On Sunday March 23, 1980, Monsignor Romero gave his last homily, which was seen by some as a death sentence because of the hardness of their complaint: “In the name of God and this people suffered … I ask you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God, stop the repression. “
The next day he was killed by an accurate shot at about 6:25 pm while celebrating the Eucharist in the Chapel of Divine Providence Hospital, exactly when preparing the table for the body of Jesus. He was buried on March 30 and his funeral was a popular demonstration company, his beloved peasants, the old ladies of the cantons, the workers of the city, some wealthy families who so wished, were outside the cathedral to say their last goodbye, promising that they would never forget. Rarely people gather to give goodbye to someone, but it was his father who took care of them, who wanted them, everyone wanted to see him one last time.
The crime was attributed to right-wing groups, asserting that the order to shoot had been given by former Major Roberto D’Aubuisson (one of the founders, later, the Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA Party); however, he did not stop anyone and even today remain the culprits identified and punished.
Three years of fruitful archbishop’s work had been completed, but an eternity of faith, strength and confidence in a good man as was Counselor Romero had begun, the symbol of the unity of the poor and the defense of life in the midst of a situation of pain was born.