Carolyn Forché’s Additional Comments about Saint Oscar Romero

A prior post discussed poet-memoirist Carolyn Forché’s four encounters with Archbishop (now Saint) Oscar Romero that were included in her memoir, What You Have Heard Is True.

Recently Forché had additional comments about Romero in an interview by Robin Lindley, a Seattle-based writer and attorney and features editor of the History Notes Network.[1]Here is what Forché said:

“Monsignor Romero was very kind. He was a bit shy, very studious, and deeply thoughtful. He had studied in Rome.”

“As things started to deteriorate and as the killing escalated, one of his close friends, Father Rutillo Grande, a Jesuit, was murdered. Monsignor Romero went to keep vigil with his body and then began to publicly denounce the military regime. He became the only institutional voice against the oppression in the country. He was a very visible public figure, and he saw himself as a shepherd, as a bishop of his people, as someone to stay with his people and keep watch with them and take care of them. Every Sunday he would say mass in the cathedral and his homily would be broadcast all over the country on radio.”

“The right hated Monsignor Romero. He was number one on the death squad hit lists, some of which were printed in the newspapers. Yet he stood up and he denounced the oppression every Sunday. And he read out the names of the dead. He was very compelling. He said yes to the call of that moment.”

“The last time I talked to him, he told me I had to leave the country the next day. I asked if he would leave the country. He said, ‘No, my place is with my people and your place with yours now.’  That was difficult for me to accept, but Monsignor Romero knew what was coming. He knew his time was short.”

“I also thought he was a saint long before the Vatican acknowledged his sainthood. There was a kind of tranquility about him, even though he felt fear. He talked about feeling fear like any other human being. But he gave his life for his people. He didn’t abandon them. I have utmost regard and also love for him, and his loss was a grave one for humanity.”

“But now we have him among us in spirit.  The people of El Salvador venerated his sanctity long before the Vatican acknowledged it.”

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[1] Lindley, Carolyn Forché: Bearing Witness to the Wounds of History, History News Network (May 12, 2019).