From the Archbishop's desk

By Most Rev Malcolm McMahon OP

Every bishop has a special connection with Blessed Oscar Romero, because every bishop somewhere in his heart wants to be like him. Another 20th-century bishop, St John Paul II, says that the life of the bishop is characterised by the self-emptying that Christ Himself embodied, and a life of simple service. Oscar Romero, a martyr for the truth of the Gospel, and one who sided with the poor, was a bishop who lived up to this ideal.

A long time ago St Augustine was aware of the pitfalls involved in being a bishop, telling us: "When I am frightened by what I am for you, then I am consoled by what I am with you. For you I am the bishop, with you I am a Christian. The first is an office, the second a grace; the first a danger, the second salvation." (Sermon 340.1)

This good advice is relevant today. Being a bishop can be dangerous as he gets tied up with administration and strays from sanctifying and teaching God's people. Oscar Romero used to get his secretary to 'spring' him from meetings he hated by telephoning him and saying he was urgently needed elsewhere, so that he could get among his people. Otherwise he would have been at risk of being far from the poor and losing sight of their needs.

Blessed Oscar Romero did not fall into these traps; he sided with the poor and those who were unjustly treated in his country, El Salvador. It cost him his life.