Archbishop Romero — trusted news source

While he was first and foremost a faithful shepherd and a martyr for the faith, a fact now confirmed by the Vatican, Archbishop Oscar Romero was also the most trusted source of news in war-torn El Salvador up until the day he was assassinated on March 24, 1980.

In a country where the major media refused to report on the unbridled military violence, Romero refused to be censored.

He refused to be silent — despite getting daily death threats and having his archdiocesan radio station bombed.

Through his homilies, radio broadcasts and reports in the archdiocesan newspaper, every week Romero detailed the tortures, murders and disappearances, making sure that truth would not be the first casualty of war.

The archbishop was not only the most trusted, but frequently the sole source of news about what was happening in the country.

His often hourslong homilies, broadcast every Sunday by the archdiocesan radio station YSAX, were the most popular program in the country, with nearly 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of the urban population listening in — along with the U.S. Embassy.

That made the station, which also broadcast information from the homilies later in the week, a recurring target of the military, which jammed its signal and bombed its offices.

Romero’s courage in reporting on the atrocities while living inside the war zone stands in sharp contrast not only to the Salvadoran media of his day, but to the U.S. media today — from the self-aggrandizing falsehoods spouted by NBC anchor Brian Williams and FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly, to the mainstream media’s failure to pursue the Bush administration’s lies about weapons of mass destruction and their refusal to use the word torture to describe torture. Continue reading

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