The assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador is a tragedy and an outrage. Although it is impossible at this time to fix the precise blame for this killing, it is clear that the Archbishop's death is part of a major social conflict in which he has consistently stood as a voice for the poor and the oppressed who form the vast majority of the Salvadorean people. His death, like his life, gave witness to Christ through fulfillment of the Gospel mandate to serve the poor.
We in the United States tend to look at events in a country like El Salvador in a detached way, as if we were unrelated to them. In fact, however, the posture and policies of our nation directly influence the daily life of the poor in El Salvador. Archbishop Romero called attention to this himself in his prophetic letter to President Carter on February 17th. In a direct personal plea to the President, the Archbishop requested that no more military assistance be given to the El Salvadorean government. As yet the plea has not been heeded. There could be no more fitting tribute to the heroic life of this holy man than the fact that as a nation we would follow his advice.
I extend to the people of El Salvador and to our brother bishops there, our promise of prayers for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Romero and for a future of justice and peace for all the people of El Salvador.