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When Oscar Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, many people were very disappointed. Those who knew him well described him as a man of great faith, but lacking in forcefulness, they said he was a timid and hesitant man who couldn't make difficult decisions and wouldn't be able to stand up for the poor and needy in the face of an intolerant government. Three weeks after he took up his office, an army death squad assassinated one of his priests and murdered two lay workers of the parish... He immediately went to the village where the bodies were laid out in the church and spent the night there with the people in prayer. The next day he announced that unless the government held an immediate investigation into these deaths, he would boycott all official and state functions. Surprisingly, this investigation did not take place and true to his word the Archbishop never again attended any official or state occasion, refusing even to attend the installation of a new president.
From then on he became the courageous defender of the poor and needy and all those who had no public voice and very soon become an unwanted thorn in the side of the government. He arranged for his Sunday homily from the cathedral to be broadcast on the diocesan radio station and in them he denounced the injustice and violence being perpetrated by the government upon its own people. Within three years of his taking up office the government decided they had suffered enough at the hands of this turbulent priest and ordered his assassination by an army death squad.
Oscar Romero could have chosen an easier way of conducting his office and would have been treated with reverence and respect, but instead he chose to tell the truth about his people’s suffering and paid the ultimate price.
In our daily lives each of us faces the same temptation, do we stand up for what we know to be the truth, or do we keep our head down and opt for a quiet life? “It only takes one good man to look the other way, for evil to triumph in this world.”
“That life is worth living, is the most necessary of assumptions and the best way to confirm your belief in the value of life is to experience the bravery of people who struggle for mere survival.”