We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Remembering the Rev. Oscar Romero, March 24

On March 24, we remember Oscar Romero (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He later became prelate archbishop of San Salvador. He was assassinated on March 24, 1980 by a Salvadoran death squad with ties to the government while he was celebrating communion.

He was awakened to the situation in El Salvador by the deaths of those closest to him just three years earlier. While driving on March 12, 1977, Romero’s close friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Rutilio Grande, was murdered. The elderly man and teenage boy accompanying Grande were also killed. These deaths shook Romero to his core. Grande’s death laid clear for Romero the ugly truth of El Salvador’s political, economic, social and ecclesiastical realities.

The trauma of his friend’s death was a catalyst for change and transformation in Romero. He was a shy, bookish and conservative bishop who had been largely uncritical of the ruling oligarchs in El Salvador. He did not publicly protest against political and military repression but did often levy harsh criticism against progressive forces within the church.

The death of his friend awakened Romero to the truth. He became a fearless and vocal advocate for the poor and vulnerable. Romero became a protector of the poor in a country where the wealthy and powerful held the advantages and spoke out for social justice against torture and repression.

The day before he was murdered, Romero addressed the members of the Salvadoran military in his Sunday homily: “In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering. people who have suffered so much and whose laments cry out to heaven with greater intensity each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!” These words, borne out of solidarity with the suffering Salvadoran people, were greeted with thunderous applause in the cathedral. YouTube has several movies about him.

Catherine has preached about him at least twice.

Matthew 5:38-48 Feb 23, 2014 – Sermon

“There are no limits to your love of your neighbor or to the poor. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, they, and everything else, belong to you (the community), and you to Christ

“This week is a continuation of last week when the text was on 1. You shall not commit murder. 2. You shall not commit adultery 3. You shall not divorce 4. You shall not bear false witness.

“The last two of the six so-called ‘antitheses’ (contrasts) cover revenge and love of enemies. They end with the ultimate moral challenge from Jesus: to be perfect.

“Who is our neighbor ? A fellow citizen or neighbor is a companion, a friend, one to share life with. Jesus not only repudiates hatred of enemies, but adds the shocking notion of actually loving them.

“Richard Rohr writes that until there is love for enemies, there is no real transformation, because the enemy always carries the dark side of your own soul. Normally those people who threaten us carry our own faults in a different form. The people who really turn you off are very much like you. Jesus offers not just a suggestion; you’ve got to love your enemy to grow up. Jesus rightly puts it in the imperative form: Do it!

“Peace activist Hildegard Goss-Mayr tells the story of the Russian army entering her village during World War II. Because the soldiers were victorious and hungry, everyone expected them to loot and destroy. Yet, when they pounded on her unlocked door, her father opened it and welcomed them like guests. He invited his family to create an atmosphere of trust for the dreaded Russians. Accordingly, the soldiers did not plunder or rape but, seeing that the family were weak and thin, they shared their own meager supply of food.

“Oscar Romero, the priest assassinated in 1980 during the Salvardorian Civil War, puts it simply – we are all humans serving each other. “Liberation that means revolutions of hate and violence and takes away lives of others or abases the dignity of others cannot be true liberty. True liberty does violence to self and, like Christ, who disregarded that he was sovereign becomes a slave to serve others.” From the Violence of Love

“We need to think twice about hurting others and look at whose end we are serving – God’s or our own. As Romero wrote “Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God’s image…”

From another sermon, March 4, 2018

The sermon covered the Gospel cleansing of the temple and used Oscar Romero as a contemporary example illustration.

“In Jesus time, the priestly class “were making a killing by bilking the people who came to the temple to buy the perfect sacrificial animals to offer in worship, which could only be bought with temple currency, which was exchanged at an exorbitant rate.

“In our times, Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador in El Salvador, saw that the Catholic Church, the state, and the military all worked together to benefit the ruling families of that country while most of the people lived in abject poverty.

“In 1980, Bishop Oscar Romero was murdered as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, because he dared to speak out against the government’s injustice to the poor and its policies of torture. Romero and the other martyrs hoped that God would eventually establish justice, and so they chose to stay and endure in El Salvador and to speak up for the poor and to stand against injustice, even in the face of death.

“Like Jesus cleansing the temple, Romero cleansed the temple, so to speak, and thanks to the work that God did through him, the Catholic Church ended up standing in solidarity with the poor of El Salvador, rather than remaining aligned with the rich families and the government and the military all intent on perpetually holding the poor in economic poverty.”

In Oct. 14 2018, he was made a saint on Sunday morning, alongside six other canonized church figures, including Pope Paul VI. The canonization of Romero — whose Latin American origins and commitment to social justice mirror that of the current pontiff, Pope Francis — is a powerfully symbolic reaffirmation of Francis’s own long-held dedication to eradicating wealth inequality.