Be Saved Alongside the Poor

Today the church remembers Bishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.

Bishop Romero was born in the mountains of El Salvador, and was originally trained in the arts of carpentry. At a young age he entered seminary, and eventually completed his schooling in Rome.

He served as a parish priest in El Salvador, and then as the rector of the seminary in San Salvador. He was consecrated bishop in 1970, and then Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977.

He is remembered for being a defender of the poor and the underclass, especially in the conflicts in El Salvador. He used his status as bishop, and then Archbishop, to call the powers to account for their greed and atrocities.

But we forget that he wasn’t always so vocal. He was timid at the start of his bishopric, worried that speaking out too forcefully would be too divisive, even if it was the just thing to do.

A peace brought about by silence, though, is no peace at all…and he eventually felt the weight of this deep truth.

During Mass on the 24th of March in 1980, Archbishop Romero was shot through the heart just as he was elevating the host, killed for his work for justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed.

“The church’s good name,” he once wrote, “is not a matter of being on good terms with the powerful. The church’s good name is a matter of knowing that the poor regard the church as their own, of knowing that the church’s life on earth is to call on all, on the rich as well, to be converted and be saved alongside the poor, for they are the only ones called blessed.”

(excerpt from The Violence of Love, by Romero)

-biographical information from Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations

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