JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
The religious service that inaugurates the opening of the current session of the United Nations heard a call for diplomats to follow the example of Arcbishop Romero. The prayer was given by Bishop John Barres, the Bishop of Rockville Center, and coincided with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Here are selected excerpts from Bishop Barres’ meditation. [Video.]
A few weeks ago on Long Island, where I became the bishop in January, we were visited by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador. Cardinal Rosa Chavez was a close friend and right hand of El Salvador’s courageous archbishop and martyr, Oscar Romero, who was murdered in 1980 while celebrating Mass in a hospital caring for the terminally ill. He was assassinated minutes after he had summoned soldiers conscientiously to obey God in respecting the human dignity of their neighbors rather than follow the directives of government and military leaders ordering them to violate their neighbors’ human rights through torture, slaughter and other evils.
Cardinal Rosa Chavez and I jointly made an appeal for comprehensive immigration reform in this country and globally, grounding that appeal in the principles of the dignity of the human person, human life and the family, and in the social justice practice of going to the roots of social problems and systematically addressing poverty. We also appealed to gang members on Long Island and throughout the United States, who are enmeshed in the evil of human trafficking and drug cartels, to reject the culture of death and dehumanization and embrace a culture of life and love.
Archbishop Romero was executed because he would not bend in this defense of the intrinsic value of the lives of all people, especially the poorest and most marginalized. His message in support of life and dignity has never faded but instead has become louder and more powerful with every passing year. How moving it was that in March 2015, to mark the 35th anniversary of his death, there was a stunning exhibition at the Curved Wall of the UN Conference Building detailing his life, work and martyrdom, and illustrating how his example of service and leadership in the cause of human dignity continues to shine as a summons for all peoples of the world to emulate.
Archbishop Romero — like the heroes of 9/11, like so many agents of the United Nations who give their lives to travel into areas of war and abject poverty to save lives or provide them with a better life — is one in a firmament of bright stars illuminating the world’s darkest nights and indicating to us all the path to personal fulfillment through lifting others up. He humbly shows us how to focus on people and strive effectively for peace and a decent life for all.
As we come together tonight in prayer on the vigil of the beginning of the 72nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, we ask God to bless the efforts of all those associated with the UN to advance human dignity and the human rights that flow from it, to protect us and the world from the scourge of war and environmental destruction, and to lift up all those who are on the margins. We ask him to bestow on us wisdom, prudence, perseverance and integrity, to give us courage not to give up when we encounter obstacles and mercifully to draw long-term good even from our failures. We ask him in a special way to grant the leaders and all those who work at or for the United Nations, the gift of compassion and passion, so that, like Archbishop Romero, hearing the cries of the poor, needy and abandoned, they may live up to the high hope the peoples of the world place in them and, indeed, lead the way to a more united, fraternal, just and merciful world.
May God bless you all and help you bring great fruit from the 72nd Session that begins tomorrow.