Oscar Romero inspiring the work of Caritas
Archbishop Oscar Romero’s words and deeds continue to inspire Caritas Internationalis decades after his assassination in El Salvador.
Looking to the example set by Romero, Caritas and the Church continue to take a stand against injustices throughout the world
Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was shot and killed while celebrating Mass in a chapel near his cathedral on 24 March 1980 after becoming an outspoken critic of human rights abuses in his country.
Caritas organisations everywhere look to Romero as they seek to build a world where dehumanising poverty and injustice are no more and where the rights of all people are respected.
Caritas President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said, “I clearly remember my first encounter with Monsignor Romero. I had been a bishop for barely three months when the Episcopal Conference of Honduras sent me as its representative to a conference on the Devotion to the Heart of Christ in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was in March of 1979, exactly one year before his death.
“I was moved by his profound piety, his simplicity, and his humility. Now after so many years I should admit that at that moment I had no idea that I was in the presence of someone who would eventually become the most famous Salvadoran man in the history of that brother country, and—if you will allow me this daring statement—perhaps the most beloved martyr of the twentieth century and a model who inspires numerous bishops who strive to take up the great challenges presented to us by the beginning of this millennium with faithfulness to God.”
El Salvador was in the grips of an oppressive and brutal regime when Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. Although not initially outspoken in his new role, he began challenging the status quo soon after his friend Fr Rutilio Grande was murdered for criticising human rights abuses in the country and supporting the rights of farmers and peasants.
From that point on until his murder, Romero became a staunch advocate for the rights of the people of El Salvador, especially the poor and the excluded, speaking out in his sermons against poverty and social injustice and pleading with the authorities in his country to stop the torture, kidnappings, murder, and repression.
Fr. Romero, in an editorial published in the weekly Chaparrastique, of which he was the director, wrote: “This is the true Caritas. One that is not only content to feed someone out of a noble enthusiasm to give aid in an emergency situation, but one which, looking toward a better future, also teaches the poor how to work in order to earn their livelihood with dignity.” (10 July 1965)
Looking to the example set by Romero, Caritas and the Church continue to take a stand against injustices throughout the world – from widening poverty gaps to violent oppression and abuses to structures that exclude the poor and the vulnerable.
Read Cardinal Rodriguez speech: Archbishop Romero heard the plea for peace – can we?
Listen to Cardinal Rodriguez on Oscar Romero
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