Archbishop Oscar Romero Human Rights Award

Romero Award StatueThe Human Rights Committee at the University of Dayton established the Archbishop Oscar Romero Human Rights Award in 2000. The award commemorates the ministry and martyrdom of the slain Salvadoran Archbishop and honors an individual or organization whose work has contributed significantly to the promotion of the inherent dignity of all persons and the alleviation of the suffering of the human family, consistent with the spirit of Christian humanism that animates the University of Dayton. The award itself, a bronze statue of Monsignor Romero, is an original piece sculpted by Emily Trick ('00) and Brother Gary Marcinowski, S.M., of the University of Dayton's Department of Visual Arts.

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About Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero

Archbishop Romero"I must tell you, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people."

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980) was a prominent Roman Catholic priest in El Salvador during the 1960s and 1970s, the time of El Salvador’s brutal civil war. Romero succeeded Luis Chávez in 1977, becoming the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador.

After calling for international intervention to protect those being killed by government forces, Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while presiding at a memorial Mass in the Carmelite chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia. The Archbishop was standing behind the altar, when two mercenaries approached the chapel and fired a single shot from a U.S. military assault rifle. He died as a martyr and a prophet, as the greatest source of hope for millions of oppressed and impoverished Salvadorans. Archbishop Romero denounced the persecution of members of the Catholic Church who had worked on behalf of the poor:

"In less than three years, more than fifty priests have been attacked, threatened, calumniated. Six are already martyrs -- they were murdered. Some have been tortured and others expelled [from the country]. Nuns have also been persecuted. The archdiocesan radio station and educational institutions that are Catholic or of a Christian inspiration have been attacked, threatened, intimidated, even bombed. Several parish communities have been raided. If all this has happened to persons who are the most evident representatives of the Church, you can guess what has happened to ordinary Christians, to the campesinos, catechists, lay ministers, and to the ecclesial base communities. There have been threats, arrests, tortures, murders, numbering in the hundreds and thousands ... But it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. Not any and every priest has been persecuted, not any and every institution has been attacked. That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted  that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people's defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.”

— Óscar Romero, Speech at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, Feb. 2, 1980.

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