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Maduro speaks in rememberance of Romero

Tricia De Groot | Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Notre Dame continued its annual tradition of remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero by inviting Otto Maduro, professor of World Christianity at Drew University to lecture Tuesday in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. The lecture, entitled “Remembering Romero after September 11,” was composed of five key points: “Which September 11th,” “24 Years ago today,” “Romero, a Christian martyr,” “Romero, a victim of armed violence” and “So what?” In accordance with his five-point agenda, Maduro began with a personal reflection of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He recalled his own emotions and thoughts, comparing these evoked feelings to the world’s response to the coup d’etat in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973. He spoke of his hope for a more pacifist response like that witnessed on a Web site depicting the response of victims’ family and friends, and thus, was disappointed with U.S. response of imperious war.His second point gave a brief history of Romero’s appointment by Pope Paul VI and his ministry of speaking out against war, which in the end, cost him his life. Romero was assassinated while presiding at Mass on March 24, 1980.Maduro spoke of Romero as being “a speck of dust in a sandstorm;” a man killed by weapons provided by the United States to the El Salvador government, who was too soon forgotten by the American public.Maduro’s next point evaluated Romero as a Christian martyr, a term that, according to Maduro, “means nothing to most people in today’s globalized world.” “Most people in America would not recognize his name or face,” Maduro said. However, for those who do remember Romero, Maduro spoke of two ways that their remembrance can generate concern. The first is that people will remember him as an individual Christian martyr without recognizing his work and importance to those in El Salvador, Maduro said. His second concern is that people may not understand that Romero “was martyred because he is a saint and is not a saint because he was martyred.”Maduro’s lecture expressed hopes of people who understand that Romero once began as a timid priest maintaining good relationships with the well to do, yet simultaneously had compassion for peasants. However, there came a point in his ministry when he began realizing the impossibility of remaining neutral. He consequently withdrew from relationships with government officials and began being shunned by the wealthy – events that led to his assassination.In Maduro’s opinion, Romero’s assassination and the death of thousands of El Salvadorians simply “confirm moral superiority of white, northern lands who nurture the illusion that things will be all right.” “Before Romero, there was hope and thought of a feasible solution to the ravages of unbridled capitalism,” Maduro said. “Now, this is gone.”