Born August 15, 1917, Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a Roman Catholic priest in El Salvador who was assassinated on March 24, 1980. He was born to a poor father who wanted Romero to become a carpenter; Romero refused, citing a calling to the priesthood, and entered the seminary. In 1942, he was ordained.
He rose through the hierarchy and was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. He became a strong defender of impoverished people and called for making injustices right.
Romero became more and more popular, and many people listened to his sermons on the radio. He began denouncing war in El Salvador and the leaders who had created it. People called him the “Voice of the Voiceless” for saying the things that no one else could – the truth about the injustices.
In 1979, there was a coup d’état. At first, Romero supported it, but they persecuted the Catholic Church, and he asked the US to help in a famed open letter to Jimmy Carter in 1980.
On March 24, 1980, he was shot in a chapel while he celebrated Mass. No one was ever convicted for this heinous crime, but the United Nations’ Truth Commission for El Salvador did their own investigating and concluded that Roberto D’Aubuisson had given the order. D’Aubuisson was a death squad leader and an extreme-right wing politician. In 1997, Romero was given the title of Servant of God by Pope John Paul II.