Liverpool Romero Mass: 'A religion of Sunday Mass but unjust weeks does not please the Lord'

Thirty one years ago on 24th March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated by a single bullet, shot through the heart as he prepared the gifts on the altar at the evening Mass he was celebrating in the chapel attached to the Carmelite hospital. The following day there was a Mass in his memory in the cathedral in Liverpool.  This ‘Romero Mass’, as it has become known, has continued every year since and this year’s venue  was the Sunday parish Mass at St Michael’s, West Derby Road, Kensington, Liverpool. The parish prepared a liturgy that used Romero’s words as the penitential rite. It was very powerful to hear words such as this from the altar:

“A religion of Sunday Mass but unjust weeks does not please the Lord.   A religion of much praying but with hypocrisy in the heart is not Christian.

"A Church that sets itself up to have lots of money and comfort, but that forgets to protest at injustices would not be the true church of our divine Redeemer.”

In his homily, Fr Tony Lester O Carm linked Oscar Romero to our current experience.

Romero was always a kindly and generous churchman who for many years accepted gifts from the ten families who owned 90% of the wealth of El Salvador and passed it on to the poor that he met.  As a ‘safe pair of hands’ who was acceptable to the powerful in his country, Archbishop Oscar Romero was radicalised by the murder of his friend, Fr Rutillo Grande, to question his own complicity in the abuse of power and wealth.  Romero realised that he too was implicated in vested interest and, from then on, worked and preached for social justice. Implicit in Fr Tony’s words was the question of how complicit we are in the abuses of our time when wealth is being transferred from the poor to the rich, both overseas and, increasingly, at home.

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