Today marks the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of San Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero. He was powerfully prophetic until the end, calling for justice, conversion and change. His own conversion moved him from a place of timidity to standing with his people in the midst of their great suffering.
In his last Sunday homily, given on the day before his assassination, Romero concluded his remarks with a pointed critique of the violence being perpetrated by the national guard, a rebuke that likely sealed his fate.
I would like to appeal in a special way to the army’s enlisted men, and in particular to the ranks of the Guardia Nacional and the police — those in the barracks. Brothers: you are of part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. Before an order to kill that a man may give, God’s law must prevail: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to take back your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such abominations. We want the government to understand seriously that reforms are worth nothing if they are stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!
The Church preaches its liberation just as we have studied it today in the Holy Bible — – a liberation that includes above all, respect for the human person, the salvation of the people’s common good, and transcendence, which looks before all to God, and from God alone derives its hope and its force.
Let us now proclaim our faith in this truth……
On this day we remember Romero’s life of ministry, his call to conversion and his tireless pursuit of justice. And we continue his work, guided by the liberating nature of the gospel and God’s continuing revelation to God’s people. Thank you for your witness, Monsenor. Be with us as we seek to do the same in the world today.