On March 24, 1980 the Archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, was shot and killed while celebrating Mass. Bishop Romero was an outspoken voice against the political abuses, human rights violations, oppression of the poor and militant bands threatening the people of El Salvador. Many believe his execution was a direct result of his persistent and decisive profession of faith. He was one of seven priests executed during his time as archbishop and in the midst of the country’s civil war. Many more priests and religious were also tortured or exiled for their peaceful protests and advocacy.
The cause for his canonization as a martyr for the faith has been pending for more than two decades. This week, Pope Francis formally recognized his martyrdom, which now allows for the Beatification of Bishop Romero, bringing him a step closer to sainthood.
The Bishop’s life reminds all the faithful of their obligation to be the voice of the poor and the oppressed — to use the spirit of God to liberate the captives. Often times, dedication to the marginalized will require politics to be a direct reflection of faith. Bishop Romero was consistent in that regard — his political views were exemplified by his faith. As our nation becomes more hostile to faith as expressed in the ballot box or public forum, Bishop Romero reminds us that no one is beyond scrutiny, especially those who present themselves for public service. Some should even be willing to stand for this principle with their lives.