Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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20160629T1551 0286 CNS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ROMERO 800Women look at relics and other items of Blessed Oscar Romero at Divine Providence Hospital in San Salvador March 22, 2015. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Relics of Blessed Oscar Romero, including a handkerchief with blood from the day he was assassinated, will briefly be part of the U.S. Catholic Church's Fortnight for Freedom observance July 1 in Los Angeles.

A handkerchief with blood from the day Archbishop Romero was martyred in El Salvador and a microphone he often used when he celebrated Mass every Sunday will be present at a special noon Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels and will be available for public veneration until 2 p.m., said a statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Blessed Romero's relics will join those of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, but the Salvadoran martyr's relics will remain in Los Angeles and will not travel with the other relics for the closing of the Fortnight for Freedom in Washington July 4.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Blessed Romero, who was beatified in May 2015, "advocated for Christian love, reminding the people that they were loved by God and that fighting back with Christian charity was the way to victory during the 12-year long civil war in El Salvador."

Carlos Colorado, a lawyer from Los Angeles who blogs and writes extensively about Blessed Romero, said he was glad that a link was established between the Salvadoran archbishop assassinated during Mass after repeatedly speaking up for the poor and against violence, and the English 16th-century saints who also spoke up during their time.

What links the three, Mr. Colorado said, is the idea that "sometimes have you stand up to your own government." Sometimes being a person of faith will lead others to accuse you of being unpatriotic and disloyal to your country, he told Catholic News Service.

Today, no one questions whether St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher were patriots, he said. And in time, Blessed Romero, too, will be seen as a great patriot in his own country, even though he was accused of the opposite when he was alive and even in death.

"The most important lesson is the idea of being radically faithful. You have to follow your faith even though the consequences are dire," and you face rejection from the world and sometimes the government, Mr. Colorado said. That's exactly what Blessed Romero faced when he stood up for the poor and the ones who seemed to matter the least in Salvadoran society of the 1970s and 1980s, he added.

"It's a level of radicalness we're unfamiliar with," he said.

Mr. Colorado was planning to visit the relics of St. Thomas More with other lawyers and judges from the St. Thomas More Society, a group of Catholic lawyers.

But because he was born in El Salvador, and because of his affinity for Blessed Romero as martyr, he said being able to venerate the relics brings a special kind of joy and also gratitude toward Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who recognizes the presence of Salvadoran Catholics in the community.

Los Angeles has one of the largest populations of Salvadorans outside of El Salvador. In 2010, a census estimate put the Salvadoran community in the area at 350,000 but Salvadoran organizations believe the number to be much higher. Many of them, like Colorado, ended up in Los Angeles after fleeing their country's civil war, in which Blessed Romero was one of an estimated 75,000 Salvadorans killed between 1980 and 1992.

In his homilies and on radio programs, Blessed Romero called for a stop to violence, particularly for a stop to civilian killings by government forces, even though he was repeatedly threatened. He was killed on March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass.

Blessed Romero, along with the British saints, is one of 14 "witnesses for freedom" featured during the Fortnight for Freedom, the Catholic Church's national education campaign on religious liberty.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.