Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged the public to stand up for social justice as exemplified by the martyrdom of El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero, the newest Catholic saint who championed social justice for the oppressed and destitute.
Mindful of the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines under the Duterte regime, De Lima maintained that all Filipino Catholic faithful should emulate how Romero stood up against social injustice, poverty, and torture.
“Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was assassinated in the 1980s because he spoke out and worked against social injustice and gross rights violations suffered by the Latin American people,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 400.
“Amid these dark times of Duterte-instigated killings, impunity, erosion of rule of law, attacks against the Church and persecution of critics, let us all summon our inner ‘Romeros’ to stand up for our common dignity and faith,” she added.
De Lima’s statement was also read by Fr. Robert Reyes during a Thanksgiving Mass held at the People Power Monument in Quezon City on the historic occasion of Romero’s canonization.
Considered as a martyr for social justice, Romero was declared a saint by Pope Francis in a ceremony in Vatican City, Rome last Oct. 14, which was roughly four decades after he was assassinated by a rightwing death squad.
“We declare and define Paul VI and Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez…to be saints and we enrol them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole church,” Pope Francis said, before the crowds broke into wild applause,” Pope Francis reportedly said.
Notably, he was made a saint along with six other canonized church figures, including Pope Paul VI.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, also acknowledged that in 2010, the United Nations declared March 24, the day of Romero’s death, as “International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims” to honor his sacrifice.