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    handwriting of Romero with quill and ink

    Oscar Romero

    El Salvador, AD 1980

    The Church Writes to the State

    March 25, 2020
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    Oscar Romero was the Archbishop of El Salvador while the country found itself caught in a struggle between left-wing guerrillas and the right-wing government. Romero spoke out against the violence on both sides. His words below were broadcast across the country on March 23, 1980; the next day he was shot by a member of the government’s death squads while celebrating Mass. In 2018, the Roman Catholic Church canonized him as a saint.

    I would like to appeal in a special way to the army’s enlisted men, and in particular to the ranks of the Guardia Nacional and the police – those in the barracks. Brothers: you are a part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. Before an order to kill that a man may give, God’s law must prevail: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to take back your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such abominations. We want the government to understand seriously that reforms are worth nothing if they are stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression! The Church preaches its liberation just as we have studied it today in the Holy Bible – a liberation that includes above all, respect for the human person, the salvation of the people’s common good, and transcendence, which looks before all to God, and from God alone derives its hope and its force.

    Source: Oscar Romero, A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to His People, Vol. 6 (Convivium Press, 2016), 419.

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