Sunday 27 March 2011

Oscar Romero Memorial Service

St Martin's in the Fields is very badly named. It lies in the heart of London, just off Trafalgar Square, in one of the busiest places on earth. I was there yesterday for the 31st anniversary of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero. In El Salvador, the was Archbishop for just over 3 years, during which he switched from a rather quiet, conservative priest to a fiery thorn in the side of the military regime.

It was the death of one of his friends which spurred the change. His 'conversion' came in a night of prayer for his murdered colleague Fr Rutilio Grande on the 12th March 1977. Left wing priests were seen as a legitimate target for the US backed government.

The service began with 15 pictures taken just after his assassination in the humble hospital chapel where he conducted his last Eucharist. The pictures were disturbing and very moving - this gentle caring man reduced to bloodied mess.

'The Glory of God is the life of the poor' he once said, and he dedicated his ministry to the poor, the vulnerable and those treated like dirt by the government. It seems fitting that a service in memory of such a man should be the starting point for the thousands of Christians joining the 'March for the Alternative', a protest against Tory cutbacks that hit the vulnerable hardest.

The kingdom of peace, sharing, justice and love is the 'alternative' that I think is worth marching and struggling for.

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