The Legacy of Blessed Oscar Romero in His Own Words

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Blessed Oscar Romero served the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Salvador, from 1977 until he was martyred for his faith in 1980. During that time, political violence, disappearances and human rights violations were widespread.

Many priests and nuns spoke out on behalf of the victims, and many were murdered because of this. Blessed Oscar Romero´s friend and fellow priest, Father Rutilio Grande, was killed in 1977 just as Blessed Oscar Romero began serving as archbishop. After Father Grande's murder, Blessed Oscar Romero spoke out even more strongly on behalf of the suffering and marginalized.

Blessed Oscar Romero heard the stories of the poor, and his voice against the violence grew louder and louder. People in villages across the nation tuned in to Blessed Oscar Romero's radio homilies, finding strength and comfort in his words. Each week he would denounce the violence and urge people to live out Christ's Gospel message of peace and love. He used his position to become what many called the voice of the voiceless.

Blessed Oscar Romero was shot and killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980. Pope Francis formally declared him a martyr in February 2015.

Thirty-five years later, poor communities in El Salvador face a different kind of violence. Violence has grown in the past decade as street gangs and drug cartels, many tied to the United States, expand their influence. But the Church continues to stand with the poor. Catholic Relief Services works with the Catholic Church in El Salvador to promote peace. We help at-risk youth and their families overcome violence and poverty through life skills, vocational training and job placements. Our program has served more than 6,000 young people.

The legacy of Blessed Oscar Romero is beautifully illustrated in the following gallery, which features his quotes and showcases CRS' work serving our poorest brothers and sisters around the world. 

CRS provides prayers and reflections to help communities of faith reflect on what Blessed Oscar Romero's witness means for our lives today. 

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Blessed Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.