A brasilian reporter asked the archbishop if he feared for his life, because he spoke for his assassinated clergy and the oppressed poor. Romero answered, “¡Justice cannot be killed!”. This year, 24 March falls mid-week, many Masses would be without homilies and sermons. Sunday, outside of Catholic congregations of hispanics, I wonder whether there would be a higher frequency of congregations of catholic or 'liberal' protestants that will hear of Romero. At my last parish, I remember two individuals whom discounted the propriety of Romero. Oscar is not canonised, yet, and though there are churches named after similar saints (Thomas of Canterbury, Stanislaus of Krakow) whom were bishops of justice, it may be more probable for those churches to be closed, than to speak of Oscar. Co-incidently, the Tejas State Board of Education [sic] voted to exclude the mention of Romero from the history programme, they also excluded Jefferson.
If Romero kept silent, he would have lived. The words that infuriated the powerful and their armed security forces were such as:
- to the president of the US, Jimmy Carter: “You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people.”
- “I am bound, as a pastor, by divine command to give my life for those whom I love, and that is all Salvadorans, even those who are going to kill me.”
- “We suffer with those who have disappeared, those who have had to flee their homes, and those who have been tortured.”
- “When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.”
- “In concrete terms capitalism is in fact what is most unjust and unchristian about our own society.”
- “Even when they call us mad, when they call us subversives and communists and all the epithets they put on us, we know we only preach the subversive witness of the Beatitudes, which have turned everything upside down.”
- “This is why the church has great conflicts: It denounces sin.
It says to the rich: Do not sin by misusing your money.
It says to the powerful: Do not misuse your political influence.
Do not misuse your weaponry. Do not misuse your power.
It says to torturers: Do not torture. You are sinning.
You are doing wrong. You are establishing the reign of hell on earth.”
- “This is the commitment of being a Christian: to follow Christ in his Incarnation. And if Christ is a majestic God who becomes a humble man and lives with the poor until the death of slaves on a cross, our Christian faith should be lived in the same fashion. This Christian who doesn’t want to live with this commitment of solidarity with the poor doesn’t deserve to call himself a Christian. Christ invites us not to fear persecution because, believe it brothers, the one who binds himself with the poor has to go through the same destiny as the poor: to be disappeared, to be tortured, to be captured to appear as dead.”
- end of his last sermon: “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. We want the government to face the fact that reforms are valueless if they are to be carried out at the cost of so much blood. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression.
The church preaches your liberation just as we have studied it in the holy Bible today. It is a liberation that has, above all else, respect for the dignity of the person, hope for humanity’s common good, and the transcendence that looks before all to God and only from God derives its hope and its strength. 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, I order you: stop the repression.”