I am honored to represent the Catholic Bishops of the United States at the observance of the 10th Anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.
During his lifetime, especially during the three turbulent years when he headed the see of San Salvador, Archbishop Romero was known well beyond the confines of El Salvador as an extraordinarily dedicated, deeply compassionate, remarkably courageous pastor of a suffering church. In death, he has become even more the very embodiment of the caring pastor, the good shepherd who knows his people and is known by them, who belongs to them as they to him, who lays down his life for others.
He belongs to all of us now, to all those who work for justice in the world and for peace, especially in Central America, especially in his beloved El Salvador. He has become a nearly universal figure, invoked by people of different faiths, or none; he has come to mean so many different things to the many who have been touched by this Salvadoran bishop--a defender of the poor, an advocate of justice and human rights, a peacemaker.
At the core of his ministry lies the immutable foundation of Romero's faith in Jesus Christ and His Church. It was his faith that sustained and emboldened him in the face of fearful adversity, and his commitment to the Church and her teaching that made' his ministry so remarkably effective.
For most of his last two years Archbishop Romero maintained a detailed record of his numerous activities and his reflections on the day's happenings. One has only to read almost any part of this diary, which the Archdiocese of San Salvador is publishing this month, to be struck by these two components of Archbishop Romero's life, his faith in God and his faithfulness as a bishop of the Church.
As part of our own commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Archbishop Romero's assassination, I am happy to announce that our bishops conference is seeking to arrange for a significant portion of his diaries to be translated, published and available to the English-speaking world as soon as possible.
There could be no more fitting observance nor greater tribute to Archbishop Romero than for all parties to the war there to press, now more urgently than ever, to end this terrible conflict through a negotiated and just settlement. May the spirit of Archbishop Romero touch all our hearts and hasten the day of peace.