Commentary on the Fifth Work of Justice and Peace

from the homilies of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador

+Work for reconciliation with truth, evangelism, catechesis, orthopraxis.

I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective
end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root
of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion
of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All
this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest
flows naturally. September 23, 1979.

I'm deeply impressed by that moment when Christ stands alone
before the world figured in Pilate. The truth is left alone, his
own followers have been afraid. Truth is fearfully daring, and
only heroes can follow the truth. So much so that Peter, who has
said he will die if need be, flees like a coward and Christ
stands alone.

Let's not be afraid to be left alone if it's for the sake of the
truth. Let's be afraid to be demagogs, coveting the people's sham
flattery. If we don't tell them the truth, we commit the worst
sin: betraying the truth and betraying the people. Christ would
rather be left alone, but able to say before the world figured in
Pilate: Everyone who hears my voice belongs to the truth. Feast
of Christ the King, 1979.

Would that the many bloodstained hands in our land were lifted
up to the Lord with horror of their stain to pray that he might
cleanse them. But let those who, thanks to God, have clean
hands -- the children, the sick, the suffering -- lift up their
innocent and suffering hands to the Lord like the people of
Israel in Egypt. The Lord will have pity and will say, as he did
to Moses in Egypt, "I have heard my people's cry of wailing. It
is the prayer that God cannot fail to hear. September 18, 1977

The church is calling to sanity, to understanding, to love. It
does not believe in violent solutions. The church believes in
only one violence, that of Christ, who was nailed to the cross.
That is how today's gospel reading shows him, taking upon himself
all the violence of hatred and misunderstanding, so that we
humans might forgive one another, love one another, feel
ourselves brothers and sisters. November 20, 1977.

We have never preached violence, except the violence of love,
which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must
each 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. November 27, 1977

Who knows if the one whose hands are bloodied with Father
Grande's murder, or the one who shot Father Navarro, if those who
have killed, who have tortured, who have done so much evil, are
listening to me? Listen, there in your criminal hideout, perhaps
already repentant, you too are called to forgiveness. December
18, 1977

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
become entrenched in their sinful state, betrays the gospel's
call. A preaching that does not discomfit sinners but lulls them
in their sin leaves Zebulun and Naphtali in the shadow of death.

A preaching that awakens, a preaching that enlightens -- as when
a light turned on awakens and of course annoys a sleeper -- that
is the preaching of Christ, calling, "wake up! Be converted!"
this is the church's authentic preaching. Naturally, such
preaching must meet conflict, must spoil what is miscalled
prestige, must disturb, must be persecuted. It cannot get along
with the powers of darkness and sin. January 22, 1978

And so, brothers and sisters, I repeat again what I have said
here so often, addressing by radio those who perhaps have caused
so many injustices and acts of violence, those who have brought
tears to so many homes, those who have stained themselves with
the blood of so many murders, those who have hands soiled with
tortures, those who have calloused their consciences, who are
unmoved to see under their boots a person abased, suffering,
perhaps ready to die. To all of them I say: no matter your
crimes. They are ugly and horrible, and you have abased the
highest dignity of a human person, but God calls you and forgives
you. And here perhaps arises the aversion of those who feel they
are laborers from the first hour. How can I be in heaven with
those criminals? Brothers and sisters, in heaven there are no
criminals. The greatest criminal, once he has repented of his
sins, is now a child of God. September 24, 1978