During the Salvadoran civil war, the death squads assassinated social leaders whom they considered subversive. Among the victims were several priests and faithful Catholics.
The Catholic Church of El Salvador anticipates the influx of thousands of people to the beatification ceremony of Rutilio Grande, a priest assassinated by U.S.-trained death squads in 1977.
Rafael Urrutia, the chancellor of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, mentioned that some 6,000 chairs are prepared for those who attend the ceremony, which is scheduled for Jan. 22 in the Salvador del Mundo Square, where Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero was also beatified in 2015.
Urrutia recalled that Pope Francis personally delegated Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez to perform the beatification ceremony of "the Salvadoran martyrs" on his behalf. Among them are also Manuel Solorzano (72) and Nelson Rutilio Lemus (17), who they were shot and killed.
Further, Salvadorans will also witness the beatification of the Italian priest Cosme Spessotto, who was assassinated by paramilitaries in 1980 while he was kneeling in prayer in a church.
Thank you, @Pontifex, for recognizing the prophetic voice of Oscar Romero. He was gunned down while celebrating mass by CIA-backed death squads for his efforts to end the dirty war on El Salvador. His last words were, "May God have mercy on the assassin." https://t.co/MYK6SzStYN pic.twitter.com/RgoGKpZjE7— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 15, 2018
During his life, Father Rutilio Grande, who was a parish priest of Aguilares town, maintained a permanent commitment to the cause of the poor. He was a friend of San Romero, who was also assassinated by death squads while officiating a mass in 1980.
The Salvadoran Death squads were paramilitary groups made up of members of the Army who received anti-subversive training. During the civil war (1979-1992), they concentrated their criminal action on the elimination of social leaders accused by the Salvadoran far-right of being allies of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).
During the democratic era, "extrajudicial killings—homicide at the hands of El Salvador’s military or National Civil Police and related security forces acting outside judicial sanction—have continued. Many among the more than 1,800 deaths at the hands of national police and other security forces between 2015 and 2020," outlet America recalled.