The 30th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom

by Kim on March 23, 2010

On this day (March 24th) in 1980, Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of El Salvador, was assassinated by a US funded death squad while preaching at Mass.* Here are five quotes from the man whose statue stands with nine other twentieth century martyrs (including Maximilian Kolbe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King) above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, Martyrs Corner.

“Do you want to know if your Christianity is genuine? Here is
the touchstone: Whom do you get along with? Who are those who
criticize you? Who are those who do not accept you? Who are those who flatter you?”

“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.”

“A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth - beware! - is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call.”

“Before an order to kill that a man may give, the law of God
must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to
obey an order against the law of God.”

“Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”

*Romero was murdered towards the end of the presidency of Jimmy Carter, who started the channeling of millions of dollars in military aid into El Salvador’s right wing regime; but the orchestrators of the state terror, with their mutually lucrative ties to US business interests, were delighted with the November election of Ronald Reagan, who went on to escalate the bucks that financed the butchery, which only ended in 1992 with the UN brokered Peace Accords. Over 75,000 people died in the civil war.

Reblogged from 24th March, 2009, slightly amended and with the addition of the footnote.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }


PamBG 03.24.10 at 2:27 am

Oscar Romero is a true saint in my book. In my Sunday School Class (read: “house group”), we are reading a book by a Latin American theologian who alludes to the US involvement in Latin America (the book was written for a US audience and this is one of those “let the the reader understand” things). Someone said “I wonder what he’s talking about?” I said, “Well, given that he’s a 70-something Latin American author…..” and I reached for Pinochet and Chile as an example of the US support of a dictator who murdered on his own people. Everyone’s mouths dropped open. Then one person said “Well, do you think Jesus would have allowed the communists to take over?” I wasn’t convinced that people actually knew what had happened and I felt they thought I was exaggerating. (My answer, by the way, was “Given two equally oppressive regimes, I think Jesus would have condemned both, not funded the one that he thought was in US interests.”)


Kim 03.24.10 at 4:50 am

Remember too that Romero’s appointment as archbishop in 1977 brought cheer to the Salvadoran government - and dismay to El Salvador’s radical priests. After all, Romero was a conservative, tepid about the reforms of Vatican II and as suspicious as Rome about the 1968 Medellin declaration on God’s “preferential for the poor”. Only when he looked at what was happening on the ground did the scales fall from his eyes.


Amy 03.24.10 at 1:07 pm

Enjoyed this post! I nabbed one of the quotes for use in a newsletter… great stuff.


PamBG 03.24.10 at 1:21 pm

True, Kim, but he looked and saw what was actually going on and did something about it. I wonder how many people would look and see something different? I know that I’d probably be in the group who looked and were too afraid to do anything.

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