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imperialism & war

Letter to the Murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero

Jon Sobrino, liberation theologian in El Salvador, writes a letter to his murdered archbishop every year to keep alive his memory and passion. "The poor no longer know how to stay afloat. Many doors were closed to them and many promises broken.. Injustice, lies, corruption and structural egoism are in the air we must breathe today.. We ask you, monsignor, for the miracle to see reality as it is. What hasn't changed is the urgency of prophetic accusation."
Letter to the Murdered Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero

By Jon Sobrino, S.J.

[San Romero de America. The former archbishop of San Salvador Don Oscar Arnulfo Romero is still remembered. Jon Sobrino, Salvadorian Jesuit and liberation theologian, writes a letter to his former bishop every year on March 24, the anniversary of his murder. What a marvelous idea to keep alive the remembrance and explosiveness of Romero's life for our current situation! This letter originally published in: Befreiung und Theologie, ila256 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,

Querido Monsignor, unscrupulous prophets of salvation want to silence you this year and bury you once and for all. They bring "good news" from the North and promise an upswing although they don't speak of mercy, justice and truth. The date has had a hard time this year. March 24 is not a day like other days but a symbol for the Salvadorian people, for all the poor in the world and all men and women of good will. On this day, the president of the United States comes to our country. His name is not important but what the governments of the US have done with our land and with the poor of this world.should be recalled, recently in Afghanistan, one of the three poorest countries of the earth. September 11 was certainly dreadful but the reaction was cruel and unjust. In three months, they dropped 12,000 tons of bombs and spent $30 million daily for the war.

You know very exactly what they do here among us monsignor. You wrote the president at that time: "We have enough of bullets and weapons. We hunger for justice, for adequate food, for a good educational system and effective development projects based on equal rights." A million dollars is transferred daily to a cruel and criminal army. You knew that, monsignor. March 24 joined together what God would never bring together: serving people and arrogance of power, truth and deceit, charity and cruelty, giving life and robbing life. Even while they give many explanations, they defile your day.

Therefore we ask you for a great miracle, that our neighbor in the North may be converted and stop being an oppressive empire greedy of power, accept differentials or gradients and be a member of humanity's family like everyone else. Our second petition is that we here in El Salvador facing immense problems do not burn out in ourselves but with our smallness open ourselves to solidarity with the women and men in Afghanistan and to everyone suffering in the world, above all in Africa. On the subject of miracle, the poor, your poor, have a perfect right to demand a miracle from you because they no longer know how to stay afloat. Many doors were closed to them and many promises broken. Often they stand idle with empty hands and must leave the country. Injustice, lies, corruption and structural egoism is the air we must breathe today.

What about your church? There is much good in your church, monsignor. Posters, paintings, music, statutes, plazas and books - all to your honor - are found in the villages and suburbs, schools and rectories. The people do things to honor you. However the church lacks your defense of the poor, your prophecy, your mercy and your hunger and thirst for justice. "Things have changed", we hear again.

The war has ended. Has injustice ended? That is still the crucial question. You said: "I deplore above all the absolutizing of wealth. Absolutizing wealth is the great evil in El Salvador." Has this changed? Has the egoism changed that rules our country and divides our population in the few who can afford every luxury and the many who must endure all misery? Has the egoism changed that dominates politics and the financial world? We ask you, monsignor, for the miracle to see reality as it is. What has not changed is the urgency of the prophetic accusation by the church of Jesus. Our stomachs groan in seeing the oppressed people. Monsignor, where is "the voice of those who have no voice"? Where are those "who rejoice that the church is persecuted because it is prophetic and proclaims a better world"? Finding prophetic witness is not easy. For many today as in the past, this witness does not exist. You were one of those witnesses, monsignor. The suffering of the poor grieved your heart. No one and nothing could relativize that suffering. "Nothing is more important than the life of people, above all the life of the poor and oppressed."

I'd like to conclude with your own words: "In the name of God and in the name of this suffering people whose cry reaches heaven, may the injustice and lies stop, may the mocking behavior and the corruption stop, may the poverty and exclusion stop, may the lust for power and disrespectfulness stop."

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