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Romero, Oscar Arnulfo

Romero, Oscar Arnulfo (1917–80). Christian archbishop of E1 Salvador, assassinated in 1980. He studied theology in Rome, 1937–43, became a parish priest and bishop of Santiago de Maria in 1974. Thought to be a conservative bishop, he was appointed archbishop in Feb. 1977, in the expectation that he would not disturb the political status quo. Three weeks later, the Jesuit Rutilio Grande, together with two others, was gunned down in his jeep. The event was, for Romero, a conversion. He began a ministry of outspoken commitment to those who had no voice of their own. Paul VI gave him encouragement, but the accession of John Paul II, with its cult of the pope and movement away from the vision of Vatican II, led to an increasing campaign against Romero in Rome. The details of this are disputed. The Vatican appointed an apostolic administrator to oversee his work, but Romero was killed before this could be put into effect. He returned from his last visit to Rome to the slogan painted on walls, ‘Be a patriot, kill a priest’. He was killed as he said mass in the chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital where he lived.

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