by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Like many, I’m hopeful about the new Jesuit pope from Latin America who takes the name Francis, but I’m concerned about reports of his silence during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” I grieve, too, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the evil U.S. war on Iraq, to recall that few U.S. priests and bishops spoke out against our wasteful war. I think we need church leaders who speak out prophetically against war, poverty, nuclear weapons and the destruction of the environment and point us to God’s reign of justice, disarmament and nonviolence. We all need to do that.
Shortly before he was killed, 33 years ago this week, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador said, “If one day, they took our radio station away from us, closed the newspaper or didn’t let us speak; if they killed off all of our priests and the bishop too, then each one of you would have to be a microphone for God. Each one of you would have to be a messenger, a prophet.” I think the time has come for each one of us to lend our voice so that together we can be a prophetic people for peace and nonviolence. We all have to become microphones for the God of peace and nonviolence.
This week, I’ve been reading a wonderful new collection of stories about Archbishop Romero called Monsenor Romero: Memories in Mosaic by Maria Lopez Vigil (Orbis, 2013). For many years, she collected stories by prominent church workers and ordinary “campesinos” who knew Romero personally. They are amazing and inspiring. Romero for me is one of history’s greatest Christian leaders, perhaps the most outspoken, Gospel-based leader we ever had. More than a saint and a martyr, he is a prophet in the same league as Jeremiah and Isaiah. Just knowing that he existed, that we live in the age of Romero, that any of us can follow Jesus like that, gives me strength…