This month marks 30 years since Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot dead in San Salvador while celebrating mass. To mark the anniversary, the BBC World Service examines his life and legacy in two documentaries in its Heart and Soul strand.
‘Voice of the Voiceless’ looks at the life and legacy of the man who’s become widely celebrated as ‘San Romero de las Americas’, and who’s seen by many as Latin America’s answer to Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi.
Initially conservative, Oscar Romero became a passionate advocate of the poor and oppressed not long after taking office in 1977, in a country suffering from extreme contrasts between rich and poor and mounting voilence. Presenter Julian Miglierini, the BBC’s correspondent for Central America, visits El Salvador to hear extraordinary memories of Oscar Romero from ordinary people – such as
- the 93-year-old woman who stood up against a military blockade when the Archbishop came to visit her village in 1979;
- the little girl seen with Oscar Romero in what’s become an iconic photograph of him, reproduced countless times;
- the vicar-general who was initially appalled to hear of Romero’s appointment, but later became a loyal supporter;
- the nun who knew him well and became an eyewitness to his killing.
The programmes also examine what’s become of Oscar Romero’s legacy – has his advocacy of the poor borne any fruit? What is his relevance for believers and non-believers today, both in his small Latin American home country and beyond? And why is it that the Catholic church – the church Oscar Romero loved – is now losing so many members to the new Protestant megachurches?
How to listen in the UK:
The BBC World Service is available either on DAB radio or MW648. Transmission times are as follows:
Heart and Soul, Voice of the Voiceless 1:
- Wed 17 March 12:32
- Wed 17 March 16:32
- Wed 17 March 23:32
- Thu 18 March 04:32
- Sat 20 March 05:32
- Sun 21 March 11:32
Heart and Soul, Voice of the Voiceless 2:
- Wed 24 March 12:32
- Wed 24 March 16:32
- Wed 24 March 23:32
- Thu 25 March 04:32
- Sat 27 March 05:32
- Sun 28 March 11:32
You can also listen in your own time via the Heart and Soul website: www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/2009/03/000000_heartandsoul .shtml “Voice of the Voiceless 1” will be available there from 17 March, and ‘Voice of the Voiceless 2’ from 24 March. Both will stay on the website in the Heart and Soul archive, so you can listen in your own time. Podcasts of each programme will be available on the same website for one week after the initial transmission.