JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
|Blessed Romero and President Molina.|
As the U.S bishops meet in their Plenary Assembly and continue to calibrate their stance at the election of a new American president, they might consider the statement issued by Blessed Romero upon the creation of a governing “junta” for El Salvador in October 1979.
Wildly unpopular with the Left, the Junta came to power promising to moderate the excesses of the dictatorships that ruled the country. Romero’s position ultimately proved his moral credibility and prophetic autonomy.
First, Romero withstood the bitter rebuke of the Left when he gave the “junta” his conditional assurance of cooperation and best wishes.
However, Romero tempted the wrath of the right—leading to his assassination—when he held the junta’s feet to the fire, consistent with his warnings in this statement, and denounced the junta’s subsequent betrayal of the promises they made when they assumed power.
In making the statement, Romero tells us, he is putting “God first.”
PASTORAL APPEAL BEFORE THE COUNTRY’S NEW SITUATION
Bl. Oscar A. Romero
October 16, 1979
Since yesterday El Salvador has entered a new and delicate situation in its history: a military insurrection deposed the Government of General Carlos Humberto Romero.
Our Church, which, from its own identity and by evangelical demand, has committed itself to accompany the people in all its vicissitudes, feels the responsibility to say its first word in the face of this new situation. It is not a political word, but a reflection in the light of our Christian faith. That is why, above all, it elevates itself to God as a prayer and from there it draws light and energy to guide the people and interpret, before the new Government, the just yearnings for liberation of all Salvadorans (cf. GS 42).
“¡Primero Dios!” (“God first!”)
This characteristically Salvadoran expression springs from the deep religious sense that the Church nurtures in the soul of our people. It is her first word and her first attitude.
We raise our prayer to the Lord of history because “if the Lord does not build the house, the workers will labor in vain. If he does not care for the city, his sentinels are watching in vain” (Psalm 127).
Our prayer is also of thanksgiving to God because—according to the information available to us—the shedding of blood has been avoided in this event.
Our prayer is also an offering to the Lord of all the suffering and pain of our people who, with its blood, has bathed our soil. Let this costly price be sufficient for God to give us a future of authentic justice and peace.
Finally, our plea to the Lord becomes a prayer of reparation and a call to conversion, because hatred and vengeance can never be the way to true liberation. The road that leads to authentic well-being always passes through justice and love.
To the people
After addressing God, our word—which is the word of a pastor—is addressed to the people as a call to rationality and a promise of service.
We understand that the patience of our suffering people is being exhausted and we fear that the expectation created by the military insurrection can resolve itself into dangerous impatience or degenerate into new violence. All the more so, because so many martyrs and heroes have already come out of this people—the dramatic testimony of these latter nightmare years.
However, in the decisive hour that we are living, we want to exhort our people to prudence, because it is prudent to observe and wait before judging and acting. An impatient and violent attitude would be as guilty and unjust as the oppression and repression in which our poor country has been submerged.
Our call is also addressed to those responsible for the malaise and violence because they unjustly defend their interests and economic, social and political privileges. Let us remind them that justice and voice of the poor must be heeded by them as the very cause of the Lord who calls for conversion and who is to be judge of all men.
Those who are active in political parties or popular organizations, we wish to invite to demonstrate true political maturity, flexibility and capacity for dialogue. Only in this way can the people be sure that they are truly inspired to work for the true good of the country. The fanaticism or idolatry of their own party or organization would be, more than ever, a grave sin against the common good. The crisis that is threatening to overcome the country cannot be solved by a single group. Everyone has a part to play in the solution. The whole people, therefore, must build the “common platform” of their its justice as the basis of fraternity.
Our message is not only a call to rationality, but also a promise: the Church commits itself once again to continue to render its disinterested service in favor of the people. The new juncture in which the country finds itself does not change in any way this will to service. It was this sincere desire to serve and defend the people that led the Church to enter into conflict with the previous Government. Similarly, that conflict will only be resolved when we have a government that is also a servant of the people.
To the new Government
Our word finally addresses the new government that has emerged from the military insurrection which deposed the previous regime. We have carefully studied the messages expressing the official thinking of the new Government. In them we recognize goodwill, clarity of ideas and clear awareness of their responsibility.
However, we want to make it clear that this government can only deserve the trust and collaboration of the people when it shows that the beautiful promises contained in the Proclamation released this morning are not a dead letter, but a true hope that a new era has begun for our country.
For our part—as pastor of the Church—we are ready for dialogue and collaboration with the new Government. We only set out one condition: that both the government and the Church are aware that our reason for being is service to the people, each from its own competence (cf. GS 76).
This is our first word in the difficult road that begins today and we hope, with the help of God, to continue to illuminate the situation from the Gospel of Christ. May the Divine Savior guide the footsteps of all men of good will who work for the construction of justice and peace in our homeland.