Johann Metz, martyrdom, Oscar Romero

Romero’s Death on Record

I’m finishing a paper on Romero and Metz for class, so as to join the two together and complete the interruptive Christology I started at Union. Because to do a paper on martyrdom without significant contemplation would be a fucking crime, I went looking for audio of the famous Romero denunciation:

I would like to appeal in a special way to the army’s enlisted men, and in particular to the ranks of the Guardia Nacional and the police — those in the barracks. Brothers: you are part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. And before an order to kill that a man may give, God’s law must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to take back your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such abomination. We want the government to understand seriously that reforms are worth nothing if they are stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuous, I beg you, I beseech you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!

Well, it turns out that there is more than simply audio. There is in fact audio from his last homily with noise of the gunshot and video of him laying dead, his funeral, and the subsequent chaos of the army firing on and bombing the funeral crowd.

In a world of movies and television where Saving Private Ryan functions as voyerism and fetishizes violence, I hesitate to include these videos in the post. These videos show real death, and quite frankly, they are horrifying. They turn my stomach, warp my face, and chase tears from my eyes, but then I remember, this is Romero. The distance that we strive to achieve, so as to dismiss him and the impoverished life in El Salvador, must be confronted. We must let these videos both condemn us and draw us, as the life of Christ does. We must let these videos be an incarnation of the dangerous memory of Christ.


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