Saturday, May 19, 2012

Óscar Romero - a martyr for the Gospel and the poor

Óscar Romero (1917–1980 became Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977.  

Though theologically conservative, he became an outspoken critic of the way the state and military supported the privileged, the wealthy and the powerful while the majority of the people remained in abject poverty. He spoke up on behalf of the poor who were being slaughtered by government backed death squads. 

Romero himself was assassinated on this day, March 24, 1980 while saying Mass in a small hospital chapel. He was killed by a single rifle bullet, his blood pouring out upon the altar. 

In 1997 Romero’s cause for beatification and canonisation was opened, and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The canonisation process continues. Romero was declared a Martyr by Pope Francis on 3 February 2015, paving the way for his beatification, which took place on 23 May 2015. Oscar Romero is honoured by other Christians, notably the Church of England which commemorates him in its Calendar. He is also one of the ten 20th century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, unveiled in July 1988. 

Here are some of his sayings from The Violence of Love, which can be downloaded free as a pdf book HERE

I cry out against injustice,
but only to say to the unjust:
Be converted!
I cry out in the name of suffering,
of those who suffer injustice,
but only to say to the criminals:
Be converted!
Do not be wicked!
(December 1, 1977)

* * * * *

We human beings cannot produce our land’s liberation.
We Salvadorans are unable to save our country
with our own human powers.
But if we hope for a liberation to come from Christ,
the Redeemer,
then we can.
This is the church’s hope.
This is why I preach much faith in Christ.
He died to pay for all injustices
and rose to bury in his tomb all evil
and become the redemption of all those who suffer.
He is hope and eternal life.
(December 1, 1977)

* * * * *

A religion of Sunday Mass but of unjust weeks
does not please the Lord.
A religion of much praying but with hypocrisy in the heart
is not Christian.
A church that sets itself up only to be well off,
to have a lot of money and comfort,
but that forgets to protest injustices,
would not be the true church of our divine Redeemer.
(December 4, 1977)

* * * * *

Sermon given at a service in Westminster Abbey to mark the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero
28 March 2010 at 18:00 pm 

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Sentir con la Iglesia: ‘feeling with the Church’.  This was Oscar Romero’s motto as a bishop – you’ll see it in many photographs inscribed on the episcopal mitre he wore.  It is in fact an ancient phrase, very often used to express the ideal state of mind for a loyal Catholic Christian; indeed, it’s usually been translated as ‘thinking with the Church’.  It can be used and has been used simply to mean having the same sentiments as the Church’s teaching authority.

But the life and death of Monseñor Romero take us to a far deeper level of meaning.  Here was a man who was by no means a temperamental revolutionary . . . .


Post a Comment