March-Saint Oscar Romero
Isaiah 51: 4 – 8
Pay attention to me, my people, listen to me, my nation, for a law will come from me, and I shall make my saving justice the light of peoples.
My justice is suddenly approaching, my salvation appears, my arm is about to judge the peoples. The coasts and islands will put their hope in me and put their trust in my arm.
Raise your eyes to the heavens, look down at the earth; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth wear out like clothing and its inhabitants die like vermin, but my salvation will last for ever and my saving justice remain inviolable.
Listen to me, you who know what saving justice means, a people who take my laws to heart: do not fear people’s taunts, do not be alarmed by their insults,
for the moth will eat them like clothing, the grub will devour them like wool, but my saving justice will last for ever and my salvation for all generations.
I was studying for my masters in Latin American politics last year when it was announced that Oscar Romero had been made a saint. For someone interested in the intersection of politics and religion in Latin America, there is no greater example of an embodiment of that relationship than a priest murdered by paramilitary forces while saying Mass for denouncing government-mandated atrocities. Although he died long before he was able to witness the country’s democratic transition (which was coordinated by his faithful successor, Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas), Romero was an outspoken advocate for peace and remains an international symbol for the promotion of justice and reconciliation.
El Salvador faces very different challenges today than it did during the Civil War. The Central American country has the highest homicide rate in the world, largely due to violence among gangs which emerged from reintegration difficulties of young ex-combatants who were demobilised in the early 1990s. However, in the face of violence and insecurity, Romero’s Church in El Salvador continues his work defending the marginalised by pressuring the government for the truth about those who disappeared during the War and promoting meaningful reconciliation through dialogue between all stakeholders. Romero’s legacy provides the country – and entire Catholic Church – with an inspirational figure of defiance in the face of injustice.
Lucy Gillingham, Assistant International Programmes Officer
A guiding light
Lord Jesus, we give thanks for the life of Saint Oscar Romero who spread your message and struggled against injustice in El Salvador.
Like you, he was a shepherd, a pastor, a brother; like you, he was taken from us; like you, he remains in our hearts.
Spirit of hope, work within us, just as you worked in Saint Oscar Romero, so that we too may work for justice and spread the Good News, by living out the Gospel, in solidarity with those living in poverty.