Today marks the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, with a number of memorial events taking place this week across the United Kingdom. CAFOD’s Tony Sheen describes one such service to celebrate the life of this remarkable man:
‘Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was murdered whilst celebrating Mass on 24 March 1980. He was murdered because of his faith and speaking openly against the oppression of the poor.
Last Saturday I was privileged to join an inspiring ecumenical service organised by the Archbishop Romero Trust at St Martin in the Fields Church in London.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols described Romero to a packed congregation, full of Justice and Peace activists from across South East England, as well as representatives of CAFOD, Christian Aid, Pax Christi and Progressio.
He said: “[Oscar Romero was] a man who, every day, heard the cry of their people, people trapped in poverty and violence. Each day he attended to that cry, he echoed that cry, he responded in action to that cry. He had taken the people to his heart, and they had taken him to theirs. Each day he saw their world through eyes that had cried. Indeed there are many things in our world that can only be seen through eyes that have cried. And many things visible around us, here, today, remain unseen because many eyes do not weep and hearts are not softened with tears.
If we truly want to imitate Oscar Romero and truly follow his example, then we too, every day, must make the cries of the poor in every part of the world central to our prayer. This is the most radical action we can take, the most profound response we can make to poverty in our midst.
This call to prayer is the first call of our baptism, a true fulfilling of our vocation to be a holy people, a nation of priests. We are to offer to God, entrust to God, all that he has given to us, most especially the poor and the weak, those who are dearest to him. Without this prayer all else that we do will be flat, one-dimensional, without its true roots in love and in faith.
This May, in the city of San Salvador, Oscar Romero will be declared ‘Blessed’, a martyr for the faith of the Church, faith in Jesus Christ. He died, the Church proclaims, in holiness of life and for one reason: hatred of the faith, hatred of Jesus, hatred of the unfailing love of God, shown in Jesus, which has such a special, preferential place for the poor.”
Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification will take place on the feast of Pentecost on Saturday, 23 May in El Salvador. This has not only brought joy in Latin America, but across the universal church.’
Find out more about Oscar Romero online at cafod.org.uk/Pray/Romero.
CAFOD’s work to tackle poverty and injustice alongside people in El Salvador continues today. If you would like to find out how your parish could stand in solidarity with communities in El Salvador, visit cafod.org.uk/connect2elsalvador.