Remembrance of Oscar Romero
In El Salvador, in the 1970s and early 80s, a violent and oppressive military government kidnapped, tortured, and executed dissenters. Oscar Romero was considered a career cleric who could be expected to sustain the status quo and not make trouble. When he became Archbishop of San Salvador on Feb. 22, 1977, he was expected to be quiet and cooperative. Instead, he was converted by the suffering of his people and united himself with them. As archbishop, he witnessed ongoing violations of human rights and started a group which spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victims of the Salvadoran civil war. He became an outspoken critic of violence and injustice. Our faith, Romero claimed, must cause us to speak out; we cannot remain in silence. On March 24, 1980, while concluding a homily during a mass in a San Salvadoran hospital minutes before being suddenly assassinated, Archbishop Oscar Romero spoke these last words:
“God’s reign is already present on our earth in mystery. When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection. That is the hope of Christians. We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”
We pray that we can do more than honor Romero’s words and courage. We pray for the spirit to help us imitate him in his conviction to stand against injustice
Listen to Romero’s words carefully and follow his example in challenging injustice.
A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth – beware! – is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call.
Oscar Romero, January 22, 1978
I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violencesocial injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression . All this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest flows naturally.
Oscar Romero, Sept. 23, 1979
The great need today is for Christians who are active and critical,
who don’t accept situations without analyzing them inwardly and deeply.
We no longer want masses of people like those who have been trifled for so long.
We want persons like fruitful fig trees, who can say yes to justice and no to injustice and can make use of the precious gift of life, regardless of their circumstances.
Oscar Romero, Mar. 9, 1980
Brothers, you came from our own people. You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination. …In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you to stop the repression.
Oscar Romero, March 23, 1980 ( He was murdered the next day)
Instead of favoring greater justice and peace, your government’s contribution will undoubtedly sharpen the injustice and the repression inflicted on the organized people, whose struggle has often been for respect of their most basic human rights.
Oscar Romero to President Jmmy Carter
I am bound, as a pastor, by divine command to give my life for those whom I love, and that is all Salvadorians, even those who are going to kill me.
Nothing is as important to the Church as human life, especially the lives of the poor and oppressed. Jesus said that whatever is done to the poor is done to Him. This bloodshed, these deaths, are beyond all politics. They touch the very heart of God.
I must tell you, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people.
Oscar Romero was beatified by Pope Francis on March 23, 2015.