The government in the Central American country launched a fierce repression against the left to put a stop to the guerrillas. Trade unionists, politicians and even priests and nuns were killed.
The Archbishop of San Salvador denounced violence on both sides and called for a more just society. This was the sermon he delivered one day before his death.
“I would like to make a special call to all men in the military. Brothers you are killing your own brothers, because you are from this land. And before an order to kill a man, God’s law must prevail, and God’s law says “Do not kill.”
According to the official commission that investigated the murder, a senior army official decided to put an end to the Archbishops comments for good.
The death squad decided to kill him when he was least able to defend himself. It happened during a mass celebration in a hospital.
“He went to the altar to extend the body to make the sacrifice. When in that moment you didn’t even hear the noise from vehicle, you only saw the vehicle come in. Some witnesses say that the murderer came out and shot from one of the sides.”
A little before the 30th anniversary of his death, the bishops of San Salvador asked the Vatican to speed up the process which would proclaim him a martyr.
Msgr. Fernando Saenz Localle
Archbishop Emeritus of San Salvador (El Salvador)
“As a friend and as someone who knew him personally, I believe that with this cause, it’s important to highlighting these two characteristics: that he was without a doubt true to the doctrine, and that he was also a pious man.”
The cause is now in its 15th year. The process has been slow because in order to declare someone a martyr, there must be proof one was murdered because of hate to ones faith not ones political views.
In fact, over time the archbishop has become a political figures.
Even though the process is still ongoing, John Paul II described him as a testimony of faith during a ceremony in memory of the martyrs of the twentieth century at the Coliseum in Rome.
And years before, in1983 the late pontiff turned his car by surprise to pray at his tomb on a trip to El Salvador, even when the Salvadorian government had asked him not to.