Archbishop Romero: truth, justice and dignity

42 years ago, on March 24, 1980, Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, bishop of San Salvador, was assassinated, one day after in his Sunday homily – broadcast by radio – he demanded that the army, in the name of God, not obey the that force them to kill but to follow the Law of God: “Do not kill” and cease the repression against the people.

“Brothers – Monsignor Romero said – they are from our same people, they kill their own peasant brothers and, before an order to kill given by a man, the Law of God must prevail, which says: ‘do not kill’ […] The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the Law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent in the face of so much abomination. We want the government to take seriously that the reforms are useless if they are stained with so much blood […] In the name of God, then, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose cries rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression…!”

The work not only as bishop and pastor of the people of El Salvador, but as a humanist, defender of the dignity of every human person, for his constant calls for dialogue, reconciliation and peace with justice in the midst of war in his nation (1979-1992) has been recognized internationally. During his lifetime, he was given appointments as doctor honorary causeby some universities in America and Europe and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

In memory of Monsignor Romero’s commitment to human rights, by actively denouncing crimes against the most vulnerable in his country, in a context of civil war, the United Nations decided to dedicate in his honor the International Day for the Right to the Truth Regarding Serious Violations of Human Rights and the Dignity of the Victims.

This Day, established by the UN General Assembly in December 2010, has the primary purpose of promoting the memory of the victims of serious and systematic violations of human rights, as well as paying tribute to those who have dedicated their lives to the fight for promote and protect human rights and those who have lost it in their work, such as Monsignor Romero.

Victims and relatives of victims of executions, forced disappearances or torture require, to find peace and enter into reconciliation processes, to know what happened, explains the United Nations. The right to the truth implies having full and complete knowledge of the acts that occurred, the people who participated and their specific circumstances, in particular the violations perpetrated and their motivation.

From the Society of Jesus in Mexico, we recognize Saint Romero of America, who before the murder of his great friend, the now blessed, Rutilio Grande, became “the voice of the voiceless.” At Grande’s funeral, in March 1977, Monsignor Romero said: “the liberation that Father Grande preached was inspired by faith”, “When I saw Rutilio while he was lying dead there, I thought: If they have assassinated him for doing what I did, then I too have to walk the same path.”

We Jesuits in Mexico are witnesses that Monsignor Romero wanted to promote reconciliation, being energetic and naming injustices by their name, even in the face of the Constitution that prevented peasants from organizing, in the face of deep inequality and in the face of the hardening of strategies military. He always prioritized truth and justice, as well as his commitment to a more equitable and dignified social order.

“As long as there are mothers who mourn the disappearance of their children, while there is torture in our security centers, while there is abuse of sybarites on private property, while there is this appalling disorder, there can be no peace, and acts of violence and blood. Nothing ends with repression. It is necessary to become rational and listen to the voice of God, and organize a more just society, more according to the heart of God”, said Monsignor Romero and today his words, in this context of conflicts and wars, are a call to truth, to peace and reconciliation.

* Provincial and member, respectively, of the Mexican Province of the Society of Jesus.

Twitter: @Jesuitas_Mexico

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Archbishop Romero: truth, justice and dignity