15th August 1917 – 24th March 1980
“The ones who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless”
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a Roman Catholic archbishop in El Salvador who was assassinated whilst celebrating mass for speaking out in support of the poor and the oppressed.
Oscar began training for Ministry at the age of 13 after secular education struggled to provide employment prospects in El Salvador. After attending seminary in Rome, Oscar returned home following his ordination in 1942 via a detention camp in Cuba as he had travelled from an enemy country during the Second World War. Oscar spent 28 years in parish ministry, starting up various welfare programs such as AA and peace activism groups. He was made a bishop in 1970 and then archbishop in 1977 which caused ripples in some of the more progressive circles of the church due to his then conservative views.
After the assassination of his friend and the governments refusal to investigate Oscar’s views changed and he become devoted to social activism and an outspoken critic of the increasingly right-wing government. Oscar’s popularity grew with his increasingly politicised preaching and his regular radio broadcasts which saw him calling on the government to stop it’s human rights violations. During his funeral, which was attended by 250,000 people, disguised government forces threw smoke bombs and opened fire killing 31 people.
Oscar Romero’s legacy stands as one of the greatest Christian leaders of the 20th century. With his refusal to back down in the face of violent threats he used his unique position of power to give a voice to the voiceless and paid for it with his life. He was shot by government assassins on this day 1980, as he went to celebrate Mass.
A Prayer for Oscar Romero:
Heavenly Father we give you thanks and praise for the life and work of Your servant Oscar Romero. We thank You for his witness to Your liberating Gospel Truth and ask that You give the same courage he had to those who continue to speak out against corrupt governments and violent threats. We pray also for all those who mourn the death of those assassinated in secret and ask for justice for the victims of political violence. In Your most Holy Name we pray, Amen
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