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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Archbishop Romero Anniversary

I began my path in Unitarian Universalism when I was hired as the Director of Religious Education at the UU Church of Silver Spring, Maryland, where I worked for just one year: 1984 to 1985. The church is located in the suburbs of Washington, DC, which at that time was the center of Salvadoran migration to the United States. At that point in the middle of the civil war, tens of thousands of Salvadorans were in the DC area seeking asylum under international human-rights conventions. (They were usually denied, though Eastern Europeans were routinely winning asylum cases during the same period.)

At the start of that war, government-hired assassins killed the Archbishop of the country while he was saying mass. This was a truly incredible crime, committed by an ally of the United States, yet the U.S. government stood by the government of El Salvador for a decade more of war.

Today is the anniversary of that priest's killing, which took place on March 24, 1980. I lit a candle in his memory during a brief service with my church school students in 1985, and have done so on this anniversary ever since, as I will do this evening.

President Obama was in El Salvador just yesterday and visited Archbishop Romero's grave, but did not really bear witness to the events. More thoughts on this missed opportunity are on my personal blog.

Coincidentally, today is also the anniversary of the March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

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