It is 36 years since Archbishop Oscar Romero was brutally gunned down in the small chapel at the hospital beside where he lived in the San Salvador.
Today is Maundy Thursday, and as I took part in the Eucharistic service in the Minster, I could not help but recall the pictures of his bloodied body, pictures used to make up a 'stations of the cross' event a few years ago at a previous Romero memorial event.
Why do we choose to remember this horrific event, the assassination of a religious leader in a country very few people have ever visited?
Romero was the epitome of someone who was so moved by the plight of the poor and the oppressed that he gave every aspect of his life to the pursuit of challenging those oppressions. He, like most of the church, like most of those who can afford to, could have easily avoided clashing with the brutality of living with militarism. He could of accepted protection from the very state that was killing his country folk. He could of lived in a nice house, been comfortable and not upset the status quo. In fact, that was what everyone expected of him.
Instead, he spoke out about every injustice he encountered. He refused to stay silent or accept the bribe of a safe and comfortable life. He risked his life endlessly in the 3 years of his Archbishopric, and became a true champion of the poor.
In an era increasingly polarised between rich and poor, in a society constantly brutalised, we need to remember the Romero's of this world. Those who are prepared to stand in solidarity with the persecuted, holding on to our common humanity and dignity.
Maundy Thursday holds up the image of the 'servant king' washing the feet of his followers, serving them right up to the end, to his own murder at the hands of a repressive government. This is the ideal day to remember Romero.
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