Let me underline something that seems important to me in the case of my country: El Salvador has a relatively small territory and has a high presence of gang groups. It is very difficult for people to move to places where they find the necessary protection to develop their lives. The impact of violence and its relationship with international migration is higher. In the case of countries such as Guatemala or Mexico, there is a greater frequency of internal displacement. It is not certain how many people who migrated moved internally before leaving the country.
Of what they have certainty, based on their studies, is that 15% of those who return to the country say that they migrated because of violence. “In the case of children, that percentage doubles, and children who emigrate are more strongly affected by violence.” Victims are not a priority for any public policy. Two years ago, the Constitutional Chamber ordered the allocation of a special budget to care for victims of the conflict, but this decision has not been adequately accepted yet. Peregrinating with Monsignor Romero Another pilgrimage of great impact was that we made on Saturday, March 23rd in honor of Monsignor Romero.
We call it “the pilgrimage of light” and it has been done since the year two thousand. The idea was of Monsignor Ricardo Urioste who created the Monseñor Romero Foundation, which year after year has maintained this beautiful tradition. But there also happened something never seen: for the first time we made a pilgrimage in honor of a saint, Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero. And it was noticed that it was something different. In fact, since our martyred archbishop was canonized many things are changing in El Salvador: he is treated with respect by mentioning his name in social media.
Every day there are more men and women who come to the chapel of The Divine Providence hospital or the cathedral crypt to ask for forgiveness because they did not understand his life, they ignored him or even hated him, and they were happy with his death. I am going to ask him to guide us in this talk that has the title “The legacy of Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero and the migrant community”. I really like the title because it allows me to speak about Monsignor Romero from a very current angle. I have already referred to the phenomenon of migration at the present time.
Now I would like to recall some of the teachings of Monsignor Romero that illuminate this theme. To conclude, I will try to show how our saint imagined that El Salvador should be, what was his dream on our land that bears the name of the Divine Savior of the world. El Salvador is so beautiful! The issue of migrants is very topical, especially in our days when the policies of the US administration are not what we would like. When the current president of this country was elected, a journalist asked Pope Francis on the plane where he was returning from a trip, what he thought of the new president.
His response was brief but very clear: “The Church does not raise walls; The Church builds bridges. “ The caravans that walk to this country know that a wall awaits them, but they still believe that bridges can be built for them. This reminds me of the revolt caused by a homily of Monsignor Romero, a few days before his death, when he informed the faithful that he was going to send a letter to President Jimmy Carter, but he would read it to his followers beforehand so that they could give him their opinion. As we know, according to the rules of diplomacy, you cannot publish a text before it reaches the recipient’s hands. The letter was sent to the White House and the archbishop received a written response.
What did that letter say? It is worth to read it before this select audience: I like to talk about the country we have and the country we want to. Monsignor Romero spoke about the country we have: It is sad to leave the country because in the country there is no just order where people can find work “(Homily, September 3, 1978).
It is sad because we like our country. Monsignor said: “Salvadorans, a call of the Virgin Mary to be like her: love your country, study your history, know your idiosyncrasies, be Salvadorans deeply. Perhaps, it is not our fault for not loving our homeland so dearly as Mary loved her country. We see it sometimes so ugly, we feel so misplaced in our own homeland, that many prefer to go elsewhere.
They do not feel at home, they do not feel their tradition, they do not feel the joy of their own blood, of their landscapes, of the beauty of their land, and El Salvador is so beautiful! “ (Homily January 1, 1978). (It will continue in the next edition)