Catholics’ clash over U.S.-Salvadoran policy in Romero’s time recalled

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May 1, 2015

A flag with an image of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero is seen during a march prior to the 33rd anniversary of his assassination in San Salvador March 16. Debate over U.S.-Salvadoran policy during the time of his murder is being recalled as the archbishop's May 23 beatification approaches. (CNS photo/Ulises Rodriguez, Reuters) See WASHINGTON LETTER May 1, 2015.

A flag with an image of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero is seen during a march prior to the 33rd anniversary of his assassination in San Salvador March 16. Debate over U.S.-Salvadoran policy during the time of his murder is being recalled as the archbishop’s May 23 beatification approaches. (CNS photo/Ulises Rodriguez, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The upcoming beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero has inspired many U.S. Catholics to book flights to El Salvador for the May 23 ceremony in San Salvador.

The long hoped-for event has also reminded many that Catholics and other religious groups implored the U.S. government to change its policy toward the Salvadoran government before and after Archbishop Romero was gunned down during a March 1980 Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador.

Throughout the 1970s, the U.S. government paid close attention to political upheavals in Central America. Among the factors driving policy decisions were fears that the Soviet Union would gain influence by propping up communist regimes, as it had in Nicraragua after the Sandinista revolution. Populist movements in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were sources of concern, said Tom Quigley, former foreign policy adviser on Latin America and the Caribbean to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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