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Archbishop Oscar Romero, a martyr for peace and justice

2015-01-15 11:58

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Archbishop Oscar Romero, a martyr for peace and justice

"The purpose of our life is God's glory.
However lowly a life is,
that is what makes it great."

Also in 1978, Archbishop Oscar Romero declared,

"God is the exquisite likeness of a mother with child. God bore me in his womb and loved me and destined me and already thought of my days and of my death. What will happen to me does not matter to me; God already knows it..."

Less than two years later, on 24 March 1980, he was murdered whilst celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel in his Archdiocese of San Salvador.

The Archbishop who had wanted a quiet life amongst his beloved books became, instead, the "voice for the voiceless" poor Salvadoran people, oppressed by the injustice of the military Junta controlling the country. The brutal killing of his Jesuit friend Fr Rutilio Grande transformed Romero into an indefatigable champion of his flock. Pope Francis has spoken of wanting bishops who "smell like their sheep" – perhaps he has no greater example than Archbishop Romero.

Now that the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints has declared Romero's death to be martyrdom, the way is open to his beatification in the near future. At a time when news reports of violence, injustice and bloodshed in many countries across the world, he teaches us to meet aggression, discrimination and brutality with love and a determination to work for peace.

A reflection by Archbishop Romero

How beautiful will be the day
when all the baptised understand
that their work, their job,
is a priestly work,
that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar,
so each Carpenter celebrates Mass at his workbench,
and each metalworker,
each professional,
each doctor with a scalpel,
the market woman as her stand,
is performing a priestly office!
How many cabdrivers, I know, listen to this message
there in their cabs;
you are a priest at the wheel, my friend,
if you work with honesty,
consecrating that taxi of yours to God,
bearing a message of peace and love
to the passengers who ride in your cab.

20 November, 1977

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