Prayer for Human Rights and Dignity of Victims

Prayer Service March 24 : International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims

“The rights to truth and justice are central to ending impunity for gross violations of human rights. […] In all instances, honoring this right puts others on notice that violations cannot stay hidden for long.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
INTRODUCTION
On 21 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. 
 
The purpose of the Day is to:
  • Honor the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;
  • Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all;
  • Recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assassinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.
Opening Prayer:
Leader: “A church that does not provoke any crises, a gospel that does not unsettle, a word of God that does not get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that does not touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed—what gospel is that? ” (Archbishop Romero, April 16, 1978)
 
 
Conversation with Jesus Christ and Romero:
First Scripture: Luke 21:12-19
Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.”
Romero:
“Therefore dear brothers and sisters, especially those of you who hate me, you dear brothers and sisters who think I am preaching violence, who defame me and know it is not true, you that have hands stained with murder, with torture, with atrocity, with injustice—be converted. I love you deeply.” (September 10, 1978)
 
Second Scripture: John 8:32
“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” 
Romero:
“Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love. Though we see that waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out; it is the only thing that can.” (September 25, 1977)
 
Third Scripture: John 18:37
“In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 
Romero:
“I have no ambition for power, and so with complete freedom I tell the powerful what is good and what is bad, and I tell any political group what is good and what is bad. That is my duty. (March 23, 1980)
 
Fourth Scripture: John 14:15-17
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” 
Romero:
“God’s reign is already present on our earth in mystery. When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection. That is the hope that inspires Christians. We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.” (March 24, 1980, from Archbishop Romero’s homily, minutes before he was killed.)
 
Litany of the Body of Christ:
(The Response to each invocation is to raise one’s white cross (or place candle by cross) and ALL say “Presente!”)
 
Leader: Let us pray for Christ in the unnamed victims of truth:
 
1. Christ disappeared,
2. Christ handcuffed,
3. Christ tortured, 
4. Christ whose labor rights are not recognized, 
5. Christ carried away by the National Guard,
6. Christ still crucified and humiliated,
7. Christ hungry and needy, 
8. Christ imprisoned, 
9. Christ tossed from a plane,
10. Christ in death, tossed onto a garbage dump,
11. Christ thrown away with so much indignity on the road, 
12. Christ rejected, 
13. Christ persecuted, 
14. Christ sleeping out in the country or in the mountains because he cannot sleep at home for fear of being taken in the night, 
15. Christ suffering from sickness because of the consequences of being so unprotected,
16. Christ who lives with the poor, the miserable, the peasant and who defends them and loves them,
17. Christ who preaches the liberation of the poor, of the oppressed, of the one who suffers, 
18. Christ deprived of an education,
19. Christ who does not fear persecution,
20. Christ humiliated like someone who does not merit citizenship,
21. Christ in anguish,
22. Christ in our midst,
23. Christ hidden in the perpetrator,
 
Reflection Question for Faith Sharing: 
 
—What do you think Archbishop Oscar Romero would ask of our faith community?
01/03/2013
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