Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980

Oscar Romero was an Archbishop in El Salvador during a time of growing unrest in the country because of social injustices and wide spread poverty and civil war. He witnessed many violations of civil rights by the government and military. Because there was an armed opposition party with communist ties, anyone who spoke out against the government was considered a communist sympathizer and he was denounced by the Catholic Church hierarchy. However Romero was only interested in speaking up for and improving the condition of the poor and oppressed in his country. He spoke out against all violence.

On the evening of March, 24, 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the elements during Holy Communion. He died within minutes. His death finally provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador. Only minutes earlier he had said in his sermon:

"Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ, will live like the grain of wheat that dies…The harvest comes because of the grain that dies…We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us."
Days before, knowing his life was in danger, he had told a reporter,

"You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."
Eternal God of justice and love, you hold in your mind a vision of creation as you intend it to be: by the example of your servant Oscar Romero, give us a view of your work that we may commit the future to you,, confident that what we do in your Name will, in your good time, grow and flourish to your glory, through you Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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