A summary of the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero showing how we can learn from his example.
Recommended Hymn / Song:
Dafydd Iwan’s song – Oscar Romero
The pictures should be shown on PowerPoint as the story is told. The ( ) shows when the slide should be changed. To attract the pupils’ attention, we recommend the first slide is already on display as they enter.
The Main Text
On 24 March, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated during a service in his church.
He was the Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. The country was governed by an extremist government who treated most of the population really badly.
When Romero was initially made archbishop, nobody dreamt that he would become a “dangerous” man. Everyone considered him to be a quiet, conservative man. But something occurred that would change him overnight.
On 12 March, 1977, his friend, the Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande, was assassinated for speaking against injustice. As a result, Romero changed and grew to be a leader who took the side of the poor and of those suffering oppression. The day after his friend’s death, Romero gave a sermon which shocked everyone in El Salvador. Romero defended the work of Grande, and, like the sermons of Martin Luther King before him demanded justice for the poor. He called on everyone to follow Grande’s example and stand up for human rights.
From that day onwards, he listened to the voices of the poor and those who were oppressed and he spoke out on their behalf. His church kept records of examples of abuses of human rights and he tried to establish truth in a country governed by lies, where men and women disappeared without explanation.
Romero was heavily criticised by the press. They accused him of associating the church with the rebels. Romero denied this. The church wasn’t a political movement. He faced much animosity, especially from the authorities. He received letters on a daily basis calling him all sorts of names and threatening to kill him.
But despite all the hostility, and despite every threat, he spoke out for truth and justice, and he became known in El Salvador as “the voice of the voiceless”.
It was because of the stand he took for the poor that he was assassinated in his own church.
At his funeral on 30 March, 1980, thousands of people gathered in the square in front of the church. And despite the fact that international journalists were present to record the occasion, 20 people were shot by the army that day.
A few days before the shooting, Romero spoke these words:
“You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, I forgive and bless those who did it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish.”
Oscar Romero still inspires the people of San Salvador, years after his death.
In 1989, a film appeared narrating his story – Romero – with Raul Julia portraying him.
What does Oscar Romero have to do with us? Is there something we can learn from his example?
Well, each of us, in our own little way, can stand up against injustice.
And all of us can certainly speak and live the truth.
Dafydd Iwan composed a song which was a tribute to Oscar Romero:
Oscar Romero! Oscar Romero
Dwedwch ei enw, holl dlodion y byd (Poor people of the world, say his name)
Oscar Romero! Oscar Romero!
Dathlwn ei fywyd, mae’n fyw o hyd. (Let’s celebrate his life, he’s still alive)
1.Boed fy ngwaed i yn hedyn eich rhyddid (Let my blood be the seed of your freedom)
Boed i’m gobaith droi yn ffaith (Let my hope become fact)
Mae fy ffydd i yn Nuw y bywyd (My faith is in God, the life)
Gyda’r tlodion y mae fy ngwaith. (My work is with the poor)
2.Fe’i saethwyd yn farw a bwled asasin (He was shot dead by an assassin’s bullet)
Gerbron yr allor yn San Salvador (At the altar in San Salvador)
Bwled a brynwyd gan bres y Gorllewin (A bullet bought by the money of the Western world)
Gelynion y werin yn El Salvador (The common folks’ enemy in El Salvador)
3. Mae ysbryd Romero yn fyw yn ei eiriau (Romero’s spirit is alive in his words)
Yn fyw yn ei gariad, yn fyw yn ei waith (Alive in his love, alive in his work)
‘Boed fy ngwaed i yn hedyn eich rhyddid (Let my blood be the seed of your freedom)
Boed i’m gobaith droi yn ffaith. (Let my hope become fact).
Prayer: We present to You o God all those who have been wrongfully imprisoned and anyone who has been tortured. We think of those people who are living in fear of injustice and oppression. Thank you for those people who have fought on their behalf. Let their example inspire us also to work for the cause of peace and justice. Amen