Posts tagged: San Salvador

They May Get Him Yet, Father Bill

By , April 18, 2014 5:51 am

alfa.aero

I graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston in May of 1949. One of my classmates was a wonderful young kid named Bill Woods. For a private boy’s school, it was a large class – 155 students. Bill and I lived on opposite ends of the town and I never really got to know him very well before we graduated. After graduation, we both entered the seminary. Bill went off to Maryknoll to become a foreign missioner and I went to the seminary of the Galveston-Houston Diocese. After our ordination, although we were in very different ministries in the Church, we became very fast friends and in a very real sense brothers.

Bill was helping to develop my interest in foreign mission work and in about 1962 or ’63 he got me to return with him to Guatemala in an open jeep! After that I was hooked. For the next several years, I made it a practice of buying jeeps in Houston for the Maryknoll Missioners. I would drive them down there for them and then spend two weeks riding in the mountains with Father Bill. I would then return home by plane. It took four days to get down there and three hours to get back!

After a while, the tragic intervention of the United States into the political affairs of Guatemala began to produce horrible results. The United Fruit Company and the CIA worked together to overthrow an elected leftist government. War was on. In those terrible years the United States saw Communists behind every bush and any corrupt government that declared itself to be anti-Communist was immediately a friend of ours and we would help them. That means that we would help them kill their own people.

My friend, Father Bill Woods, would be assassinated. His plane was shot down mysteriously in 1976. Then the reign of terror would begin. Villages would be wiped out, the archbishop of San Salvador would be assassinated, four American nuns would be raped and murdered, Jesuit professors would be slaughtered, etc., etc. For the most part, nothing would be done about it.

Now, however, a U.S. immigration court in Miami is seeking to expel General Jose Guillermo Garcia from the U.S. The American Ambassador at that time, Robert White, is wonderful and testified against Garcia and congratulated the court that “this is the first court that has ever found General Garcia linked so directly to these massacres and these killings.” The court stated that General Garcia held “the greatest power and authority in El Salvador.” The judge wrote, “He rebuffed reform, protected death squad plotters, denied the existence of massacres, failed to adequately investigate assassinations and massacres, and failed to hold officers accountable for the killing of their fellow countrymen.” The general also, “failed to adequately investigate Archbishop Romero’s assassination and encouraged “sham investigations” in the killings of the four churchwomen.”

Guatemala is far from a perfect country today. With the expulsion of Garcia back to his home country it may create the situation where that government will move against him for his countless heinous crimes.

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St. Oscar? That would Turn Heads in the Litany of the Saints!

By , December 2, 2010 4:04 am

Although I have been out of office for ten years, I still get surprising letters each day.  Today I received a special letter from the Archdiocese of San Salvador asking for a donation towards the cause of bringing about the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

It has been thirty years since the heroic Archbishop of San Salvador was shot down while celebrating Mass.  His death was an agonizing loss for the poor people of El Salvador and around the world.

Bishop Oscar Romero did not start out as a reformer or a champion for poverty stricken farmers and workers of Salvador, but once he was in office and began to confront the sufferings of his people and the forces that caused those sufferings he became clearly aware that injustice in that Central American nation.  He pushed for laws that would help the poor and preached relentlessly to those possessing vast wealth that they had responsibilities to the country and to the most vulnerable people within the country.  The military government reacted violently.  Not only was the archbishop assassinated, but many priests and even religious women were imprisoned, tortured and murdered.

Shortly after the assassination, I made a trip to Salvador with several other representatives of the U.S. Catholic Conference to express solidarity with the battered Church in that country.  I was there for a week and during that week, we interviewed twenty different people who were involved in the ongoing struggle.  Within three months, three of those twenty people had been murdered!

Now there is an organized effort to bring about the canonization of Monsignor Oscar Romero.  I certainly am praying and working that it might succeed.  In modern times, canonizations do not fall from the sky but they are a result of a group of people working for a long period of time to do the necessary research and documentation to bring about proof for the extraordinary holiness of the person being confirmed.  I returned my letter from the Archdiocese in San Salvador with enthusiasm and a check.


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