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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

“No one has to obey an immoral law”— Martyr Óscar Arnulfo Romero 1917-1980

People of El Salvador
picture of martyr during march
Words rarely spoken, risks rarely taken by preachers, priests or politicians, pundits or proselytizers; church or state
Minor edit, excerpting by Carolyn Bennett

America Central 

“After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, Roman Catholic Priest Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (Monsignor Romero) began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of repression.” This led to many conflicts with the El Salvadoran government and within the Catholic Church.

“After speaking out against US military support for the government of El Salvador and calling for soldiers to disobey orders to fire on innocent civilians, Archbishop Romero was shot dead” as he celebrated Mass at the small chapel within the cancer hospital where he lived. “It is believed that those who organized his assassination were members of Salvadoran death squads, including two graduates of the (US) School of the Americas.”

Now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), previously called the US Army School of the Americas, a US Department of Defense Institute located at Fort Benning, Georgia (near Columbus), this notorious entity “provides military training to government personnel in US-allied Latin American nations” [Wikipedia note].

Óscar Arnulfo Romero

People of
El Salvador
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (b. August 15, 1917 in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador; d. March 24, 1980, in El Salvadoran capital San Salvador), his body is buried in San Salvador Cathedral. A Roman Catholic priest ordained April 4, 1942, dedicated June 21, 1970, he was Bishop of Santiago de María (1974-1977), Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador (1970-1974), and The Most Reverend Venerable Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador (February 23, 1977-March 24, 1980)
People of
El Salvador
The unofficial patron saint of the Americas and/or El Salvador, beloved by Salvadorans, Romero is also “honored by other Christian denominations” including the Church of England and Anglican Communion through the Calendar in Common Worship and at least one Lutheran liturgical calendar. Archbishop Romero is also one of the ten 20th-century martyrs depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London, England.

When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises [Monsignor Romero, August 6, 1978].

Conservative, Progressive

“Romero spent the first two and half decades of his ministerial career as a parish priest and diocesan secretary in San Miguel. In 1970 he became auxiliary bishop of San Salvador and served in that position until 1974 when the Vatican named him to the diocese of Santiago de María, a poor, rural region which included his boyhood hometown. In 1977 he returned to the capital to succeed San Salvador’s aged metropolitan archbishop.”

Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty [Monsignor Romero, January 7, 1978].

“Romero’s rise to prominence in the Catholic hierarchy coincided with a period of dramatic change in the Church in Latin America. The region’s bishops, meeting at Medellín, Colombia, in 1968 to discuss local implementation of the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), had resolved to abandon the hierarchy's traditional role as defender of the status quo and to side, instead, with the continent's poor in their struggle for social justice.”

The church preaches your liberation just as we have studied it today. It is a liberation that has, above all else, respect for the dignity of the person, hope for humanity's common good, and… transcendence… [Monsignor Romero, March 14, 1980].

“This radical departure divided both the faithful and the clergy.

“During this period Oscar Romero’s reputation was as a conservative and on more than one occasion he showed himself skeptical of both Vatican II reforms and the Medellín pronouncements. For this reason his appointment as archbishop in 1977 was not popular with the socially committed clergy, to whom it appeared to signal the Vatican's desire to restrain them.”

People of
El Salvador
… One must not love oneself so much as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history requires of us; … whoever seeks to avoid danger loses his or her life. Whoever out of love … gives oneself to the service of others lives…. Like the grain of wheat that dies—but only apparently… Only in undoing itself does it produce the harvest [Monsignor Romero, March 1980].

People of
El Salvador
“To their surprise, Romero emerged as an outspoken opponent of injustice and defender of the poor.”  Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez raised his voice in the causes against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture. His final benediction, he said:

…May my death be for the freedom of my people….

Sources and notes

Archbishop Romero's biography (Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Monsignor Romero), International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, United Nations March 24, http://www.un.org/en/events/righttotruthday/romero.shtml

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%93scar_Romero


Archbishop Oscar Romero The Last Sermon (1980)

“…I would like to make a special appeal to the men of the army, and specifically to the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military. Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God.

“No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order.

“The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. We want the government to face the fact that reforms are valueless if they are to be carried out at the cost of so much blood. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression.

“The church preaches your liberation just as we have studied it in just as we have studied it in the holy Bible today. It is a liberation that has, above all else, respect for the dignity of the person, hope for humanity's common good, and the transcendence that looks before all to God and only from God derives its hope and its strength.

“Archbishop Oscar Romero The Last Sermon (1980),” From The Church and Human Liberation, March 14, 1980, http://www.haverford.edu/relg/faculty/amcguire/romero.html

El Salvador

In Central America, the country El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated of the seven Central American countries. Despite having little level land, it traditionally was an agricultural country, heavily dependent upon coffee exports. By the end of the 20th century, however, the service sector had come to dominate the economy.

San Salvador

San Salvador is El Salvador’s capital and the country’s leading financial, commercial, and industrial center. Transportation is here, with railroads and highways linking it with the Pacific ports of Acajutla, La Unión (Cutuco), and La Libertad. Manufactures include textiles, clothing, leather goods, wood products, pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, and cigars; meatpacking and liquor distilling are also important. [Britannica notes]


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent bookstores in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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