Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1917 – 1980) was Archbishop of El Salvador from 1977 to 1980. He was born into a large poor family in El Salvador. He entered the seminary at 14 and was ordained at 25. When his mother was ill and they needed money for medicine, he worked for 3 months in the silver mine in Potosi, on about 8c a day. Until becoming a Bishop in 1974, he was conservative and traditional, and encouraged conformity. Over time, he learned of the effects of poverty and brutality on people’s lives. In 1977, Romero became Archbishop of San Salvador, in a context where the military were killing the ordinary people - especially teachers and clergy demanding justice. When several were murdered, he cancelled all masses the following Sunday except for one in front of the cathedral for 100,000 people. Thousands still went missing and by 1979, the number of people being killed was more than 3000 per month. He continued to speak out on the radio each week. In March 1980, he was assassinated by government agents while saying mass. He was canonised in 2017. His leadership was founded in courage, universal principles of humanity on which he acted, and compassion. He understood the power of symbolic actions, as well as the consequences which can ensue.
The ones who have a voice must speak for those who are voiceless.