Bishop Oscar Romero’s life is a testimony to what social responsibility is about. A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, the faithful have a tradition that recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first. The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in Gods creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
Today he was named a saint.
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador who served as the fourth San Salvador. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture.
In less than three years, more than fifty priests have been attacked, threatened, calumniated. Six are already martyrs–they were murdered. Some have been tortured and others expelled [from the country]. Nuns have also been persecuted. The archdiocesan radio station and educational institutions that are Catholic or of a Christian inspiration have been attacked, threatened, intimidated, even bombed. Several parish communities have been raided. If all this has happened to persons who are the most evident representatives of the Church, you can guess what has happened to ordinary Christians, to the campesinos, catechists, lay ministers, and to the ecclesial base communities. There have been threats, arrests, tortures, murders, numbering in the hundreds and thousands…. But it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. Not any and every priest has been persecuted, not any and every institution has been attacked. That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people’s defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.— Óscar Romero, Speech at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 2 February 1980.
In 1980, Romero was assassinated while officiating Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence. Though no one was ever convicted for the crime, investigations by the UN-created Truth Commission for El Salvador concluded that the extreme right-wing politician and death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson had given the order.
Today, Pope Francis raised Bishop Romero to sainthood.During Romero’s beatification, Pope Francis stated, “His ministry was distinguished by his particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.”
Romero preached that “The most profound social revolution is the serious, supernatural, interior reform of a Christian.” He also emphasized: “The liberation of Christ and of His Church is not reduced to the dimension of a purely temporal project. It does not reduce its objectives to an anthropocentric perspective: to a material well-being or only to initiatives of a political or social, economic or cultural order. Much less can it be a liberation that supports or is supported by violence.”