Cardinal Vincent Nichols urged Christians to emulate Oscar Romero by making the cries of the poor central to their prayers.
Romero, the martyred archbishop of San Salvador, is to be beatified on 23 May in his hometown in South America. He was assassinated 35 years ago today while saying Mass, after speaking out about the Salvadoran Government's human rights abuses.
Speaking during an ecumenical service at St Martin in the Fields in London on Saturday, Cardinal Nichols said that Archbishop Romero perceived the suffering of the poor in South America “through eyes that had cried”.
He encouraged Christians to emulate him and said: “There are many things in our world that can only be seen through eyes that have cried. And many things visible around us, here, today, remain unseen because many eyes do not weep and hearts are not softened with tears.”
Prayer was “flat and one-dimensional” when it forgot the poor and the weak, he went on.
He explained: “If we truly want to imitate Oscar Romero and truly follow his example, then we too, every day, must make the cries of the poor in every part of the world central to our prayer. This is the most radical action we can take, the most profound response we can make to poverty in our midst.”
The cardinal told congregants at the ecumenical service that love for the poor could unite Christians.
Romero, who was assassinated while saying Mass, lay dead at the foot of the altar, Nichols remembered. His death, the cardinal went on, was the cost of his extreme love for the poor, his belief in their dignity and the opposition that evoked.
“Those who wish to deny that dignity, in their unjust and cruel treatment of others will, sooner or later, detest the faith and love that so uphold that dignity,” he said.