St. Oscar Romero

Monday, October 15, 2018

Reading: Final Homily of Archbishop Romero

Yesterday in Vatican City, St. Oscar Romero was canonized. This holy man was Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until his assassination while offering Mass on March 24, 1980. After Archbishop Romero’s death, a twelve-year civil war ensued in El Salvador, killing an estimated 75,000 people.


The Catholic Church in El Salvador, during these years, became deeply involved in protecting the lives and land rights of the poor who were severely oppressed by a militaristic government. This corrupt government engaged the assistance of the United States to suppress the people by interpreting their struggle as “communism”.

For years, the Salvadoran government received US supplied arms and military training at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia.  It was someone trained with these arms who martyred St. Oscar Romero – and thousands of his poor, over many years.

Romero was not a politician. He averted confrontation wherever possible. But he could not stand by as thousands of his flock were slaughtered  because their human rights threatened the status and greed of the powerful.

Sometimes we hear the empty adage that religion should never mix with politics.
St. Oscar Romero is one of hundreds of women and men who became saints because they believed the opposite.

Our faith is irrevocably entwined with the rest of our lives. Our Gospel demands that we embrace and honor the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. We may not be called to the level of witness that Oscar Romero was. But we, each in our own way, are called to understand issues of justice, and to act as Jesus would.

We are called to challenge our government, as did many activists during these years, when it is blind to its own sins. The USA is still selling arms to oppressive governments, still supporting regimes and practices that ignore human rights. Our voices and our votes need to be informed, clear, and faith-filled. I find Network and excellent source of education for me on these issues:

Click for Network’s Website

Music: El Salvador ~ Peter, Paul and Mary

Please read the lyrics below first, as they are a little difficult to understand. The images in the video are painful to view, but offer testament to the gross injustices the Salvadoran people endured.

There’s a sunny little country south of Mexico
Where the winds are gentle and the waters flow
But breezes aren’t the only things that blow
In El Salvador

If you took the little lady for a moonlight drive
Odds are still good you’d come back alive
But everyone is innocent until they arrive
In El Salvador

If the rebels take a bus on the grand highway
The government destroys a village miles away
The man on the radio says ‘now we’ll play South of the Border’

And in the morning the natives say,
We’re happy you have lived another day
Last night a thousand more passed away
In El Salvador

There’s a television crew here from ABC
Filming Rio Lempe and the refugees
Calling murdered children the ‘tragedy’
Of El Salvador

Before the government cameras 20 feet away
Another man is asking for continued aid
Food and medicine and hand grenades
For El Salvador

There’s a thump, a rumble, and the buildings sway
A soldier fires the acid spray
The public address system starts to play South of the Border

You run for cover and hide your eyes
You hear the screams from paradise
They’ve fallen further than you realize
In El Salvador

Just like Poland is ‘protected’ by her Russian friends
The junta is ‘assisted’ by Americans
And if 60 million dollars seems too much to spend
In El Salvador

They say for half a billion they could do it right
Bomb all day, burn all night
Until there’s not a living thing upright
In El Salvador

They’ll continue training troops in the USA
And watch the nuns that got away
And teach the military bands to play South of the Border

And kill the people to set them free
Who put this price on their liberty?
Don’t you think it’s time to leave
El Salvador?
Songwriters: Jim Wallis / Noel Paul Stookey

2 thoughts on “St. Oscar Romero

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