HOMILY OF MSGR. JOSE LUIS ESCOBAR, ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR
IN THANKSGIVING FOR THE CANONIZATION OF SAINT OSCAR ROMERO
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Atrium of the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador
[ ES ]
Eminent Messrs. Cardinals, Rev. Apostolic Nuncio, Lord Bishops, dear brother priests, religious sisters, religious brothers and sisters, seminarians, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
We celebrate our thanksgiving to God for the Canonization of our beloved Archbishop Romero. Thanks also to Pope Francis for his great love for him and for canonizing him. Thanks to the Bishops, priests and lay people who have come from other countries to celebrate this great event with us. Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for being here in this celebration. “The Lord has been great with us,” we have just proclaimed with the Psalmist. (Ps 125:3.) This is a phrase that has been fulfilled in our People: “The Lord has truly been great with us” by granting us the Canonization of our Pastor, Bishop, Martyr, and now Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
In the midst of this joy, I wish to carry out an act of justice: I publicly ask for forgiveness on behalf of that part of the Church that mistreated Archbishop Romero and defamed him; among them his brother bishops, priests and lay people who abandoned him and attacked him in an anti-evangelical attitude. And not only in life, but even after his martyrial death. We ask the holy people of God forgiveness for all the scandal caused by that unjust attitude.
On the other hand, I publicly acknowledge and express sincere gratitude to all those who did know how to respond to that historic moment of salvation by giving a faithful testimony of their faith alongside Archbishop Romero, they knew how to remain at the side of the Saint, like the Apostle St. John. First among them, our martyrs, priests, religious and laity who gave their lives for the faith. We also recognize and thank all those who, although they did not have to shed their blood, still have witnessed their faith with fidelity. They are true confessors of the faith as we said in our second Pastoral Letter. Likewise, I also want to thank the Carmelite Sisters of St. Thérèse; our beloved Archbishop Arturo Rivera Damas (of holy memory); our beloved Cardinal Gregorio Rosa and all the priests; the Society of Jesus; the Christian Base Communities; all the religious women and men, to the holy people of God; to all the churches and diverse creeds of the whole world that have witnessed the sainthood of Romero. We are immensely grateful to all of you. Now our longings are satisfied as we contemplate our Saint on the altars. Blessed be God.
It is everyone’s task to learn more about Archbishop Romero and to imitate him. I take advantage of the occasion to respectfully request the Government of our country, to establish for the curriculum of the students of the last year of primary school and in high school, the subject of “The Person and the Teachings of Archbishop Romero.” I invite all of us to truly unite around our saint, Archbishop Romero, and put his doctrine into practice. Like the blind man of Jericho, let us ask Jesus to grant us the grace to see Him in the poor, to see Him in each brother, to see Him with Romero’s eyes. I invite all of us, following in the footsteps of our Saint, to fight for justice.
I wonder, dearest brothers and sisters, what Saint Oscar Romero would tell Salvadorans in this historic moment in which we live; and it seems to my imagination that we hear his strong, prophetic voice condemning:
· The great desire to privatize water, the murderous desire that some unfortunately exhibit and persists in them. Let us make use of our citizen’s right, let’s all fight so that the human right to water is respected for all Salvadorans.
· I hear have the sensation of hearing Archbishop Romero’s strong denunciation of the grave injustice in our pension system, which perversely is designed so that workers, when they retire, live in poverty and that the agencies managing the workers’ funds have millions in profits, which is a very great injustice that cries out to God. That unjust system must be replaced by one that is really in favor of the workers.
· It also seems to me that the voice of Archbishop Romero denounces the large amount of taxes in our country and that, with respect to all of them, our poor citizenry is burdened by a regressive tax system that obliges them the poor to pay more, without exceptions; leaving the people who have more money exempt from certain taxes while allowing them to evade and avoid others. In this way, the poor are condemned to be increasingly poor.
· It is easy in our imagination to “hear” to the voice of Archbishop Romero at this moment defending with courage the rights of immigrants from Central America and other parts of the world.
Our immigrant brothers are noble, honest and hard-working people. Their only “crime”—if we can call it that—is to be poor; but the poor are God’s favorites. They migrate because they are forced to do so by injustice, such as the ones we have pointed out and others, as well. The mobility of the person is an invulnerable human right. They have the right to migrate, they have the right to refuge and they have the right to asylum. It is one of the duties of humanity to protect and help the migrant. We thank those who are helping the caravans of Central American migrants and we ask that the states not to criminalize them, that their rights not be trampled upon, but instead be respected and that they be helped.
As the People of God, we raise our prayer today to the Lord through the intercession of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Patroness of El Salvador, and through the intercession of our beloved saint, Archbishop Romero. May God grant us the grace to work together for the cessation of social exclusion, inequality, impunity and violence; and allow us in the same way to obtain the social peace we so long for.
So may it be.