Church was and continues to be persecuted

AS WE  approach the 30th anniversary of the murder of El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, it is an important moment to realise that the Church has been and continues to be persecuted in certain parts of the world.

Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador in Central America, was shot dead whilst celebrating Mass on March 24 1980. Over the next few weeks many events have been arranged to mark Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom

An ecumenical service will take place in York Minster at 11am. This Liturgy of the Word will be led by two patrons of the Romero Trust, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York. Terence Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough will assist.

Cardinal O’Brien visited El Salvador last year to attend the 20th anniversary of the six Jesuit martyrs killed in the country.

The cardinal has visited El Salvador  three times and takes an active interest in the country. In 2005 spoke about a truly holy experience he had while visiting El Salvador.

“One memory has and will remain with me—a Mass that I celebrated in El Salvador,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “On a previous visit I had been with the people of a small township called El Higueral. They had been scattered from their town land by government forces and were living in exile.

“On my first visit to them they asked me to pray for their safe and speedy return to their homeland. On my second visit to El Salvador I was again approached by them and the request was made that I would pray with them before their return. This I did early in the morning and then continued with my own missionary journeys while they prepared to walk to their homeland—some ten days walk away.

“I joined them at the end of their journey and then by jeep, by mule and on foot reached their isolated homeland on a rough hillside. Everything seemed quite desolate with only the ruins of chapel, school and homes remaining. However the leader of the community said to me with a certain pride: ‘Look, this is beautiful, this is home.’

“I thought the community would immediately make supper or at least have coffee after what had been quite an arduous journey. However, they said to me those simple words: ‘Will you please say Mass?’ This I did with Mass being celebrated on some sacks of corn which they had carried with them and by the light of the moon.

“Christ in the Eucharist came into the midst of that little community; and I am sure that Christ in the Eucharist continues to stay in that community right down to this present time. The spiritual must come before the material; spiritual food before material food—what a lesson in that war-torn country.”


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