The Dangerous Words of Modern Martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero
In a pastoral letter, he wrote that responsibility demanded that the Church have a greater presence among the poor. His witness on the side of poor and downtrodden garnered him respect and admiration, but also criticism, suspicion and hostility from the government, the military, the ruling class, leftist agitators and even among some of his fellow bishops. This is happening all over Latin America. Gangs such as MS and 18th Street — both of which trace their roots to Los Angeles — terrorize the nation through murder, extortion, abuse and torture. The gangs have targeted women and children and massacred entire families.
Meanwhile, El Salvador — a small Central American country of about 6.
Archbishop Oscar Romero declared a martyr by Pope Francis | Catholic Herald
Romero, who will be canonized on Oct. Jones, who is based in El Salvador and specializes in issues such as gang violence that are affecting Central American migration and internal displacement, told OSV that Blessed Romero continues to resonate in showing people a different, Gospel-centered way to live. The poor in El Salvador have an undying devotion to Blessed Romero while those in the upper classes are more skeptical, said Francisco Rico-Martinez, a Toronto resident who grew up in El Salvador and often visits his country of origin.
The next day, a sniper shot Blessed Romero through the heart while the archbishop was celebrating Mass in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital. Blessed Romero was only His assassin has never been brought to justice. I think the Church was able to resolve that. In , Pope St. The cause for his beatification and canonization was opened but languished for years until Pope Benedict XVI effectively unblocked the case in December A few months later, Pope Francis ascended to the papacy and ordered the cause to proceed.
The recognition of Blessed Romero as a martyr for the Faith paved the way for his beatification in El Salvador on May 23, From all that he formed this beautiful theology. Brian Fraga is an Our Sunday Visitor contributing editor.
When he is raised to the altars, Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero will be joined by his friend and mentor who supported him through extremely difficult circumstances in the El Salvador of the late s. Colorado noted that the causes for Blesseds Romero and Pope Paul VI simultaneously received their approvals from the medical board members, theologians and bishops at the Vatican who are charged with reviewing causes for beatification and canonization.
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Pay Your Bill. Update Your Credit Card. New Subscription. Gift Subscription. Digital Subscription. Digital Subscriber Sign In. Bulk Subscription. Today Romero stands tall as a truly credible witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ for these sceptical times. During three dramatic years as archbishop, Romero became visible to the wider world through his legendary preaching to a nation engulfed in explosive tensions and violence. In a country wracked with human rights abuses, enveloped in lies and cover-up and edging every day closer to civil war, Archbishop Romero fearlessly spoke the truth.
He listened to the poor tell their stories. He took on the wealthy landowners for their exploitation of seasonal workers. He took on the military for their torture, killings and terrorisation of the rural population. This brought down persecution on the Church and six priests and dozens of catechists were killed prior to his own assassination.
The preaching, the teaching, the prayer and solitude. The closeness to the poor, the tender love of the vulnerable and destitute, the courage and resolution, the insults hurled, the pharisaic plotting against him, the doubts and the fears, the death threats and the public execution. In there was a Gethsemane experience for Romero. And he assented; he made a fundamental option for the poor and it took him to his martyrdom.
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Then someone tells you that your mother and your sister are inside that building. Your attitude changes completely. We should get inside as if our own mother and sister were burning. Rutilio Grande was the first priest to be killed. There were national shock waves.
He now began to see the situation from the perspective of the victims. He suspended all participation in official government ceremonies until the assassins were brought to justice. He opened a diocesan legal aid office to document the killings and disappearances and to give pastoral support to the families and communities affected. Crucially, the following Sunday, he decreed that all churches of the diocese be closed and the masses cancelled.
He summoned priests and people to a single Mass in front of the Cathedral where he preached to a crowd of over , He carefully unpacked the readings and interpreted them in the context of El Salvador. Then came the good news of the week — the meetings in the communities, the celebrations and patronal feasts, the visitors and letters of solidarity. Then the bad news. Incident by incident, atrocity by atrocity, he named the victims; he said what had happened, where and when and indicated those responsible.
He sought justice, supported recompense and offered pastoral care. This methodology was the forerunner of truth commissions that later emerged around the world. His sermons could last over an hour but were heard with rapt attention — the only interruption to the flow being applause. Romero constantly referred to the three idolatries of the time — idolatry of wealth and land; idolatry of power and national security and on the left the idolatry of the party organisation.
They were false gods that demanded human victims. But Romero always used the moment for a call to repent, an invitation to a change of heart.
It is not my poor words that sow hope and faith. I am no more than the humble echo of God in his people. As war came closer the threats and insults increased. Fake newspapers appeared with outrageous headlines attempting to link Romero with terrorists. A suitcase of dynamite placed behind the altar for his Sunday mass failed to go off.
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