Two sermons

Sunday March 24 is the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero.  For this year's post commemorating the anniversary of Romero's martyrdom, we listen to Romero's voice in sermons he gave on the final two days of his life.

On Sunday March 23, 1980, the archbishop preached his Sunday sermon which was broadcast by radio throughout the country.  

His homily concluded with these powerful words:

I would like to make an appeal especially to the men of the army, and concretely to the National Guard, the police, and the troops. Brothers, you are of part of our own people. You are killing your own brother and sister campesinos, and against any order a man may give to kill, God’s law must prevail: «You shall not kill!»

No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God.  No one has to observe an immoral law.

It is time now for you to reclaim your conscience and to obey your conscience rather than the command to sin.

The church defends the rights of God, the law of God, and the dignity of the human person and therefore cannot remain silent before such great abominations. We want the government to understand well that the reforms are worth nothing if they are stained with so much blood.

In the name of God, then, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise up each day more tumultuously toward heaven, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression!

You can listen to Romero speak that final section of his sermon here: 

Full audio and Spanish and English transcripts of the entire sermon preached that Sunday are available here from the RomeroTrust. 

That sermon signed Romero's death warrant.  Carlos Dada, in a piece in El Faro titled A 5 Millimeter Hole, describes the decision to include that fateful command in the sermon.  Romero had spent three years as archbishop  being the voice for the voiceless poor in El Salvador who had spent decades being oppressed by El Salvador's military and wealthy oligarchy.  When Romero demanded in the March 23 sermon that soldiers disobey unjust orders to kill, the decision was made to eliminate him.   

The following day, archbishop Romero was saying mass in the chapel at Divina Providencia cancer hospital.  You can listen to the final 50 seconds of his sermon and hear the gunshot which ended Romero's life here: 

The English language translation of this final sermon is found here.

You can also listen to this BBC interview with Milagro Granados, the journalist who was in the chapel and made that recording of the final moments of Romero's life.

44 years later, Saint Oscar Romero's life and example continue to point to the roots of justice found in solidarity with victims and the poor.

For much more about Oscar Romero's life and death and his ongoing impact in El Salvador, there are dozens of posts in El Salvador Perspectives using the tag "Oscar Romero"