Recent conversations have reminded me that Monseñor Oscar Romero of El Salvador spoke powerfully against the agents of genocide. He used his office to denounce the murder of his fellow countrymen, and he himself paid the ultimate price. A gunman assassinated Romero in 1980 while he celebrated mass.
The day before his murder, Romero delivered the following sermon:
I would like to appeal in a special way to the enlisted men of the army, and in particular, to the ranks of the National Guard, and the police—those in the barracks.Brothers, you are of 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 that says: “Thou shalt not kill!” No soldier is obligated to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the order 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 so much abomination. 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. We are going to proclaim today our creed in this truth
The video in this post contains Romero's original speech in Spanish, along with archival photographs of the genocide in El Salvador.
Romero's clarity and courage are deeply inspiring to me.