Oscar Romero Quotes


Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917March 24, 1980), commonly known as Monseñor Romero, was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He later became the eighth Bishop and fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding the long-reigning Luis Chávez y González.

As archbishop, he witnessed ongoing violations of human rights and started a group which spoke out to the poor and also victims of the country’s civil war. Chosen to be archbishop for his conservatism, once in office his conscience led him to embrace a non-violent form of liberation theology, a position that has led to comparisons with Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Later, in 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot shortly after his homily. His death provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador. After his assassination, Romero was succeeded by Msgr. Arturo Rivera y Damas.

In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero, and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The process continues. He is considered by some the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as “San Romero” by the Catholic workers in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, including the Church of England through its Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.

We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, December 24, 1979

God’s reign is already present on our earth in mystery. When the Lord comes it will be brought to perfection. That is the hope that inspires Christians. We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, March 24 1980

Those who, in the Biblical phrase, would save their lives – that is, those who want to get along, who don’t want commitments, who don’t want to get into problems, who want to stay outside of a situation that demands the involvement of all of us – they will lose their lives. What a terrible thing, to have lived quite comfortably, with no suffering, not getting involved in problems, quite tranquil, quite settled, with good connections politically, economically, socially—lacking nothing, having everything, to what good? They will lose their lives.

“But those, who for love of me, uproot themselves and accompany the people and go with the poor in their suffering and become incarnated and feel as their own the pain, the abuse – they will secure their lives, because my Father will reward them.”

-Archbishop Oscar Romero

Brothers and sisters, God’s word calls us to this today. Let me tell you with all the conviction I can muster, it is worthwhile to be a Christian.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, April 1, 1979

If we are worth anything, it is not because we have more money or more talent, or more human qualities. Insofar as we are worth anything, it is because we are grafted on to Christ’s life, his cross and resurrection. That is a person’s measure.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, March 4 1979

If there were love of neighbor there would be no terrorism, no repression, no selfishness, none of such cruel inequalities in society, no abductions, no crimes

– Archbishop Oscar Romero

A Christian community is evangelized in order to evangelize. A light is lit in order to give light. A candle is not lit to be put under a bushel, said Christ. It is lit and put up high in order to give light. That is what a true community is like. A community is a group of men and women who have found the truth in Christ and in his gospel, and who follow the truth and join together to follow it more strongly. It is not just an individual conversion, but a community conversion. It is a family that believes, a group that accepts God. In the group, each one finds that the brother or sister is a source of strength and that in moments of weakness they help one another and, by loving one another and believing, they give light and example. The preacher no longer needs to preach, for there are Christians who preach by their own lives. I said once and I repeat today that if, unhappily, some day they silence our radio and don’t let us write our newspaper, each of you who believe must become a microphone, a radio station, a loudspeaker, not to talk, but to call for faith. I am not afraid that our faith may depend only on the archbishop’s preaching; I don’t think I’m that important. I believe that this message, which is only a humble echo of God’s word,
enters your hearts, not because it is mine, but because it comes from God.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, October 29, 1978

The present form of the world passes away,
 and there remains only the joy
 of having used this world
 to establish God’s rule here.
 All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish capitalism,
 all the false successes of life will pass
 with the world’s form.
 All of that passes away.
 What does not pass away is love.
 When one has turned money, property,
 work in one’s calling
 into service of others,
 then the joy of sharing and the feeling that all are one’s family
 does not pass away.
 In the evening of life you will be judged on love.

-Oscar Romero

Authority in the church is not command, but service. Among Christians, those who do not become simple as children cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. To my shame, as a pastor, I beg forgiveness from you, my community, that I have not been able to carry out, as your servant my role as bishop. I am not a master, I am not a boss, I am not an authority that imposes itself. I want to be God’s servant, and yours.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, September 10, 1978

We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we each must do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness
and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood, the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work

-Archbishop Oscar Romero, November 27, 1977

“May this Body immolated and this Blood sacrificed for Mankind nourish us also, that we may give our body and our blood over to suffering and pain, like Christ — not for Self, but to give harvests of peace and justice to our People.” (Uttered seconds before a gunshot pierced his heart as he prepared to consecrate the Eucharist.)

-Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.  Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development.  We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.

-Oscar Romero

No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God – for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God.

-Oscar Romero

“Humanity’s mystery can be explained only in the mystery of the God who became human. If people want to look into their own mystery—the meaning of their pain, of their work, of their suffering, of their hope—let them put themselves next to Christ. If they accomplish what Christ accomplished—doing the Father’s will, filling themselves with the life that Christ gives the world—they are fulfilling themselves as true human beings. If I find, on comparing myself with Christ, that my life is a contrast, the opposite of his, then my life is a disaster. I cannot explain that mystery except by returning to Christ, who gives authentic features to a person who wants to be genuinely human.”

-Oscar Romero   (The Violence of Love (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 112.)

“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed —  what gospel is that?”

-Oscar Romero

“There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried”

-Oscar Romero

“We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.”

-Oscar Romero

“A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth – beware! – is not the true church of Jesus Christ. A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call.”

-Oscar Romero

“When we leave Mass, we ought to go out the way Moses descended Mt Sinai: with his face shining, with his heart brave and strong to face the world’s difficulties.”

-Oscar Romero


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