Blessed bishop is an inspiration to us all
Blessed Oscar Romero has been an inspiration to a generation of human rights and social justice advocates, President Michael D. Higgins has said.
Referring to his long-held admiration for the martyred Salvadoran archbishop, the President said it gave him “genuine pleasure that the Church has decided to beatify Oscar Romero for his championing of the poor and of the oppressed, for his bravery and his selflessness and for his fidelity to the Christian message”.
Several Irish missionaries who worked closely with Archbishop Romero before his assassination by a death squad in 1980 travelled to San Salvador for Sunday’s ceremony. An estimated 500,000 people attended the open-air ceremony.
It was also marked by a Mass of thanksgiving in Dublin’s pro-cathedral for the slain archbishop who had close ties to Ireland.
President Higgins described the newly-beatified Romero as “an illuminating icon not only for the Church but for the oppressed of the world and those in solidarity with them”, and highlighted the importance of the Salvadoran Civil War and the archbishop’s murder in awakening the interest of Irish people in issues of global justice.
“We, in Ireland, can recognise these moments as founding events in what would become a widespread interest in, and support for, human rights by the Irish people,” he said.
Speaking after the pro cathedral liturgy, the President said: “the archbishop’s figure is regularly conjured up in the dances, songs, poems and theatre performances of the Salvadoran people, and on the murals and posters that cover the walls of their cities. The strength of his words continues to galvanise their faith, and to crystallise their aspirations for a more just society.”
Speaking at the Mass, Fr Richard Sheehy recalled how in 2013 the President, who first visited El Salvador on a fact-finding mission in January 1982, visited Blessed Oscar Romero’s tomb and the Wall of Remembrance which honours the dead and ‘disappeared’ of El Salvador’s Civil War.
“You remarked on that occasion that ‘to be forgotten is to die twice’. Archbishop Romero has never been forgotten by the people of El Salvador. He represents the solidarity of the Church of Jesus Christ with them in their darkest hour,” he said.