Archbishop Gomez honors slain Salvadoran in LA ceremony

A statue of Romero is revealed and dedicated in Los Angeles  MacArthur Park on Nov 23 2013 Credit Archdiocese of Los Angeles CNA 11 25 13 A statue of Romero is revealed and dedicated in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park on Nov. 23, 2013. | Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Archbishop José H. Gomez blessed a plaza dedicated to Archbishop Oscar Romero at a Los Angeles Park Nov. 23, praising the peaceful vision of the murdered Salvadoran archbishop.

"This gathering today is such a beautiful witness to his memory. My friends, this is what Archbishop Romero lived for," Archbishop Gomez said Nov. 23 at MacArthur Park in Central Los Angeles.

"To see the rich and poor, the powerful and the humble – to see people of many races and nations – all standing together as one human family. As brothers and sisters, children of God. Living in freedom, justice and in peace."

Archbishop Romero became head of the Archdiocese of San Salvador in 1977 and was a vocal critic of the human rights abuses of the repressive Salvadoran government. He was shot and killed in 1980 while celebrating Mass at a hospital chapel.

No one has been prosecuted for his assassination, but right-wing death squads are suspected.

In Los Angeles on Saturday, Archbishop Gomez said the slain archbishop lived for "the vision of the world as God created it to be."

"This is the vision he gave his life for," the Los Angeles archbishop added.

The plaza dedication also unveiled a bronze statue of the Salvadoran archbishop. The statue is six-and-a-half feet tall and 450 pounds in weight. Its creator is Salvadoran artist Joaquin Serrano,  the Southern California public radio station KPCC reports.

The Salvadoran American Leadership and Education Fund sponsored the statute at the Monseñor Oscar Romero Memorial Plaza.

"Monsignor Romero represents for us a symbol of hope, someone who fought for the right things," the fund's executive director, Carlos Vaquerano, told KPCC. "He was a very spiritual guy. He wasn't a politician. You know, he was just the archbishop for the poor."

Mayor Eric Garcetti was among the dignitaries at the ceremony.

Archbishop Gomez encouraged the crowd to work "in Archbishop Romero's name" for human life, liberty, dignity and immigration reform. He referred to Archbishop Romero as a "martyr" and prayed that God bless the park.

"May this beautiful plaza be a sanctuary in the heart of our city," he prayed. "May it be a place of peace where our families can gather and our children can play, a place where we can all know the warmth of friendship and community."

"Give us the courage to stand with the poor and build a city of truth and love," his prayer continued.

He also urged the crowd to remember "our Filipino brothers and sisters" suffering in the aftermath of the massive Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country in early November and killed over 5,000 people.

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