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placeholder Martyred
Salvadoran bishop
commemorated
in Oakland

Passion of the
Christ, on a
grand scale

Mass remembers
sacrifice of slain
Oakland police
officers

40 Days for
Life stands a vigil
in Hayward

Pupils display
their know-how at
diocesan science fair

Dominican Sisters
break ground
on expansion

Magazine honors
Moreau Catholic
for innovation

El Heraldo Católico
launches website

Lively boys' basketball playoffs end with final
double-OT game

40 teams compete
in CYO Girls
Basketball Playoffs

Diocese gets
thumbs up on safe
environment audit

Church audit: Abuse
allegations down,
training up in 2013

Obitiuaries:
Sister Marion Loretta Carr, PBVM

Father William R. Stoeger, SJ

New members welcomed into
Church at Easter Vigil

'I'm going to know
the right way
to do things'

'The way God
worked in my life
was amazing'

'A joy to go through
this with my mom'

St. Elizabeth Ann
Seton's Lenten
message

Lent: the annual
catechumenate

Boomers can have
a good Lent even when not needing
to fast

Sacramento bishop

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placeholder April 7, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA

Several priests joined with Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, at the standing room only Mass. Among them, from left, are Revs. George Alengadan and Eduardo Fernández, SJ; Bishop Barber; and Rev. Alexander Q. Castillo, secretary of the bishop and episcopal master of ceremonies.
All: josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice

Martyred Salvadoran bishop commemorated in Oakland

Ignacio Zavala Rivas

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, assassinated 34 years ago while saying Mass "dedicated his life to helping the poor and the needy," said Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, SJ.

Bishop Barber celebrated a special commemorative Mass in honor of the Salvadoran prelate on March 23 at the Oakland Catholic Worker organization.

Called "the voice of the voiceless" for his constant complaints about human rights violations in his country, Romero became a symbol of the struggle against social injustice in Latin America.

According to Robert Lassalle-Klein, a founder of Oakland Catholic Worker and co-director of religious studies at Holy Names University in Oakland, Archbishop Romero exemplifies solidarity of the Church to the poor.

His assassination on March 24, 1980, at the hands of a sniper marked the beginning of a bloody civil war that left more than 70,000 people dead in the country and thousands more displaced.

One of the displaced was Ignacio Zavala Rivas, a catechist who had to leave El Salvador with his wife and their 11 children shortly after the assassination of the archbishop for fear Zavala and his family would be killed.

 
For more information

Oakland Catholic Worker
4848 International Blvd.,
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510-533-7375
http://oaklandcatholicworker.org
 
"We lived a terrible persecution," Zavala, who is 91, recalled. "There was no freedom of expression and we had to flee because the armed forces killed and caused men, women and children to disappear."

They arrived as refugees in Honduras where they lived in a camp for seven years, growing maize and vegetables.

Although he did not know Archbishop Romero personally, Zavala listened to the archbishop's homilies every Sunday on the radio. "He defended his people, denouncing injustice and evil. His message was clear: Do not kill."

One day before his death, Archbishop Romero gave a final sermon in which he called for an end to military repression: "I would like to call on, in particular, the men of the army, those on National Guard bases, in police barracks: Brothers, these are your own people. Would you kill your brother peasants? Before the order to kill is given, should not the law of God prevail, which says, 'Do not kill?'"

Today, Zavala was grateful Bishop Barber came to celebrate Mass." He is our pastor, he came to the poor, the peasants, to our village," he said.

Zavala returned to El Salvador, spent two years there, and emigrated to the United States in 1989. "The situation was very bad for those who were associated with the Church, so we left out of fear," he said.

When the family arrived in Oakland, it received assistance from the Catholic Worker, a home founded in 1987 to provide refuge to Latin Americans fleeing civil war in their countries.

Road to sainthood

In 1990 the Salvadoran church petitioned The Vatican to make Archbishop Romero a saint. The process stalled while his sermons were reviewed. The church had questions about whether Archbishop Romero was killed for his faith or for his political stance. And there has been concern that he has been used as a political symbol rather than a religious symbol in El Salvador.

Pope Benedict XVI "unblocked" the sainthood cause for Archbishop Romero, and Pope Francis is accelerating it. For the process toward sainthood to continue, the pope needs to formally declare Archbishop Romero a martyr, meaning he died for the faith. A miracle attributed to a sainthood candidate's intercession is not needed for the beatification of a martyr. But a miracle would be needed for his canonization.

Asked about the process of beatification for Archbishop Romero, Zavala replied, "He is already a saint to us."

Catholic Worker

The Catholic Worker Movement began in 1933, when Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin published The Catholic Worker newspaper to promote justice and mercy. Their movement was committed to nonviolence, poverty and the Works of Mercy. They soon opened houses of hospitality for the homeless and the hungry. Today there are more than 220 Catholic Worker communities worldwide.

(Catholic News Service contributed to this article.)

 
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