Westminster: Archbishop Romero lecture

 The second Archbishop Romero Memorial Lecture will be held in Westminster Cathedral Hall on Tuesday, 17 February.

The memorial lecture series, organised by the Archbishop Romero Trust, aims to promote knowledge and awareness of the life and work of the murdered El Salvadorean archbishop, inviting speakers with a personal memory of Oscar Romero or those whose work reflects the precepts and principles of his life. This year's speaker is Fr Dean Brackley SJ. Fr Brackley first went to El Salvador 19 years ago in the wake of the assassination of six Jesuit priests. He offered himself as a volunteer to take up some of the teaching duties that they had done, joining the staff of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in El Salvador, Central America in 1990, where he has taught theology and ethics until the present. He is currently pastor of the UCA's university parish.

Archbishop Romero of San Salvador was a tireless advocate of human rights and justice for the poor from his appointment in 1977 to his death in 1980. In a dictator state he became the voice of the people where even the most basic rights were abused and denied. Every Sunday, from the pulpit of his cathedral, he denounced the atrocities committed by the ruling junta ­ the killings, torture and disappearances. Yet, as the country teetered on the brink of civil war, he pleaded for non-violent political change. On 24 March 1980 he was assassinated by a death squad marksman as he celebrated Mass in the chapel of the cancer hospital where he lived.

The Archbishop knew that his life was threatened. Those closest to him say that the murder of the Jesuit priest Fr Rutilio Grande in March 1977, had a profound and lasting impact. Fr Grande had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor campesinos when he was assassinated. Romero said: "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought 'if they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path." It was, in the words of one commentator, "his Gethsemane moment".

Romero's commitment to the poor and for social justice lives on in the Church and he continues to be a "beacon of hope for the poor".

Julian Filochowski, chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, said he was delighted to welcome Fr Brackley to London who he said was an "inspiring speaker".

"He has energised and given hope to many in the US and elsewhere to witness to their faith in promoting justice for the poor and peace and reconciliation in a world of division and exploitation," he said.

Fr Brackley's published works include Divine Revolution: Salvation and Liberation in Catholic Thought (Orbis Books, 1996) and The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times: New Perspectives on the Transformative Wisdom of Ignatius Loyola (Crossroad, 2004). The talk on 17 February is titled 'Crosses and Resurrections in El Salvador'. It will start at 7pm in the Cathedral Hall. The event is free and open to all. For details please contact the Friends Office on 0207 798 9059

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