Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.Óscar Romero
As the Catholic Church moves Óscar Romero toward sainthood, we consider how the slain archbishop taught us to love without restraint.
For the three years that Óscar Romero served as the archbishop of San Salvador, he was the voice of humility, love, and justice. Although he was assassinated in March of 1980, when he was cut down by a bullet while leading Mass, his calls to loving, merciful action are not forgotten.
When human authority becomes abusive of God’s law, of right, of liberty, of human dignity, then it is time to cry out like St. Peter …, ‘We must obey God rather than men.Óscar Romero
If you’re not familiar with Romero’s compelling story, you can watch the Hollywood movie or read The Violence of Love, a collection of his radio addresses to the nation (the source of the quotes in this article). A panel of theologians has recently declared Romero a martyr, which some say is a step toward sainthood.
But only God can do whatever he wants, and this God governs us with kindness. In a weak person, power becomes cruelty, a sense of inferiority is carried to the level of brutishness. God has no sense of inferiority. God is sovereign. God can do all, and so he judges even his felons, even his sinners, with kindness and mercy.Óscar Romero
Both Jesus and Romero preached peace—a radical, laying-down-your-weapons-and-loving-your-enemy peace that challenges us to look at all of creation as beloved by God. Just as Jesus called on his parishioners to love those who persecuted them, even though the government of his time cut off resources to those who needed them most, Romero called on his listeners to practice nonviolence when their government terrorized those who resisted its force with night raids, kidnappings, and barbaric violence. Romero, like Jesus, called us to be kind—even when it required sacrifice.
The Christian knows that Christ has been working in humanity for twenty centuries and that the person that is converted to Christ is the new human being that society needs to organize a world according to God’s heart.Óscar Romero
Romero’s call to love “the other” was clear. Reading his words, we must challenge ourselves to ask how we might be contributing to physical and spiritual violence in our own lives.
One easy way to reduce suffering is to go vegan. If you haven’t done this already, consider taking a 30-day pledge to go vegan. By leaving animals off your plate, you refuse to participate in systemic violence that kills 27 billion animals a year in the U.S. alone; takes precious food, water, and land from those who need them most; poisons the Earth; and results in disease and suffering.
God’s reign is already present on our earth in mystery. When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection.’ That is the hope that inspires Christians. We know that every effort to better society, especially when justice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.Óscar Romero