On days like today I turn to the mothers and fathers of my faith who lived through similar moments. In turning to Oscar Romero (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), a man who knew extraordinary political social upheaval, I remember the price he paid, including his life. He experienced a great deal of blowback holding to social implications he believed the gospel demanded of Christ-followers. He faced judgement from inside and outside the Church, contending with delusion, conspiracy theories, blame shifting, and alternative facts every day. He was branded by some to be a heretic. Many decades later his words and work would prove his critics unwise. Today I read one of his sermons. In it he says (and I will type it as printed):
“Those who have listened to me here in church on Sundays
without ill will,
without intending to defend indefensible interests,
those who have listened to me here cannot say
I am giving political or subversive sermons.
All that is simply slander.
You are listening to me at this moment,
and I am saying what I have always said.
What I want to say here in the cathedral pulpit
is what the church is,
and in the name of the church
I want to support what is good,
console the victims of atrocities, of injustices,
and also with courage
disclose the atrocities,
the disappearances of prisoners,
the social injustice.
That is not engaging in politics;
this is building up the church
and carrying out the church’s duty
as imposed by the church’s identity.
My conscience is undisturbed,
and I call on all of you:
Let us build up the true church!”
~ September 10, 1978