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5 - NAtional

Oscar Romero offers path past polarisation, MSPs told

Scottish politicians have been told they need to learn from the Blessed Oscar Romero and move beyond the partisanship and polarisation of the past

The Scottish Parliament this week hosted an event to mark the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero.

Dr Jonathan Reyes, executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered Holyrood’s Time for Reflection on Tuesday and an evening lecture entitled ‘Oscar Romero: A Saintly Path to Social Justice’ to a group of parliamentarians and invited guests.

“Oscar Romero understood there could be no solutions to the serious problems of his country when it remained so deeply polarised,” he said. “We see increasingly, polarisation by race, class and worldview. People must be willing to live in authentic solidarity to go out and meet others. His life is a sign of hope we cannot ignore.”

“Even in death he made a huge difference to the world,” Dr Reyes said. “He was someone who talked to all and we need to follow that because that’s the only place honesty comes from. Despite our differences we need to be friends.”

Dr Reyes was visiting Scotland as a guest of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

The archbishop said he was ‘delighted’ that Dr Reyes accepted his invitation to come to Scotland in order to ‘share the life, legacy, and message of Blessed Oscar with those men and women whom we have elected to Holyrood to help build a more just society for all’.

“I would hope Dr Reyes’ visit will introduce our Holyrood parliamentarians to some of the key ideas of Catholic Social Teaching given that Blessed Oscar Romero’s life heroically embodied these principles as a saintly riposte to both unbridled capitalism and state socialism, both of which undermine the dignity of the human person,” he said.

The archbishop thanked all those involved, particualry the Politicans of all parties who had sponsored the meeting. He also said he had heard rumours that Blessed Oscar Romero could be canonised this year.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador was born on 15 August 1917. Ordained to the priesthood in 1942, he soon proved to be a popular cleric who responded with compassion and bravery to the plight of El Salvador’s poorest. This courageous witness ultimately resulted in his assassination on March 24 1980 as he was celebrating Holy Mass. In 2015, Archbishop Romero was declared a martyr for the Catholic Faith by Pope Francis and was, subsequently, Beatified.

Dr Jonathan Reyes has occupied his current post with the US Catholic Bishops since 2012. Prior to that he was Director of Social Ministry and President and CEO of Catholic Charities in Denver Archdiocese.

There he oversaw an organisation serving 45,000 persons annually, including five homeless shelters, six child care centres and 22 affordable housing projects. Dr Reyes also founded Christ in the City, a national volunteer and formation programme for university students.

“We are very grateful that Dr Reyes has found time in his busy schedule to visit Scotland for what should be a memorable day at the Holyrood Parliament marking the centenary of Blessed Oscar Romero’s birth,” said Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office.

The visit of Dr Reyes to the Scottish Parliament had cross-party backing and was sponsored by the SNP’s Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Scottish Labour’s Elaine Smith MSP, Donald Cameron MSP of the Scottish Conservatives and Mike Rumbles MSP of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.



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