CNL hails canonization of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero

An underground revolutionary organization of church people and workers hailed the canonization of a Salvadoran Archbishop known in his lifetime as a staunch human rights defender and for which he was martyred.

The Christians for National Liberation (CNL), an allied organization of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in a statement expressed its “heartfelt jubilation” on the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero to the Vatican’s roster of Saints.

Romero was canonized by Pope Francis in the Vatican last October 14 as the first Salvadoran Saint. He was gunned down during Mass in a hospital chapel on March 24, 1980, a day after telling the Salvadoran Army that “They are killing our own people.”

“No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God. One must not love oneself so much as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us. And those who fend off danger will lose their lives,” Romero also said on the eve of his martyrdom.

Romero was outspoken during his country’s bloody civil war in the 1980’s, and also against the role the United States played in his country’s tumultuous history.

In a letter he sent to US President Jimmy Carter in February of 1980, he urged the US not to send military aid to El Salvador.

“You call yourdelf Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here,” Romero told Carter.

The CNL drew parallelism with Romero’s struggle for human rights in El Salvador with the Philippine militant church peoples’ struggle for social transformation, for which many are also killed and persecuted.

“CNL through the years, and up to the present, has a long list of martyrs, of church people killed, tortured, detained and harassed while serving the poor,” the group said.

“CNL members have participated in different forms of struggle, including the armed struggle, and devoted and gave up their lives for the revolution,” the group added.

CNL said that in the hearts of the ordinary Filipino faithful, their martyrs are saints just like St. Oscar Romero, as they offer their lives for the basic masses.

CNL said the sacrifice of their martyrs and members is the meaning of holiness in a world of injustice and oppression, as it challenged church people to work for the hoped “new heaven and new earth” by being one with the poor, deprived, oppressed and exploited. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


By Jason Montana


Open your eyes to the power of the people and the

arms they bear

Of sacrament and gun and a story living in their


How different is the violence of the ruling classes and

their foreign masters

In their social system of exploitation and oppression!

The people’s war is violence of symbol and war:

Of seed sprouting from crushing rock and earth;

Of sun pushing out a sky full of dead stars;

Of mother and child struggling against the darkness of


It is of Yahweh confirming the nothingness of evil and


When he stunned the precision and finality of his


And his mighty wind raised the Son of Man from the


Rehearsals of revolution are these deeds of sun and seed

and human birth,

And of Jesus glorious from the tomb, above all.

A great story is told, of driving force, and the people



The poet wrote this piece as a member of the New People’s Army. Prior to joining the NPA, Fr. Paco Albano was a Benedictine priest who co-founded the underground Christians for National Liberation (CNL) that organized church peoples against Ferdinand Marcos’s tyrannical Martial Law and to wage the National Democratic Revolution. After many years in the underground, he resumed his priestly duties and died a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ilagan (Isabela Province) until his death earlier this month.

 “EASTER HOMILY” is part of the poet’s book “Clearing: Poems of People’s Struggles in Northern Luzon” published by the Artista at Manunulat ng Sambayanan, CNL, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1987.