Friday, October 24, 2014

On poverty



Young Father Romero (third from right).
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 The poor are the incarnation of Christ,” Archbishop Óscar A. Romero wrote as a seminarian in 1941.  This month, the Archdiocese of San Salvador asks us to reflect on Romero’s youthful epiphany in preparation for the centennial of his birth in 2017. “Through their tattered clothing, their dark gazes, their festering sores, the laughter of the mentally ill, the charitable soul discovers and venerates Christ,” the young Romero wrote.  Pope Francis echoed the sentiment in his Lenten Message this year: “In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ.”

Together, Francis and Romero provide us a spiritual typology of poverty, helping us to understand why Christians should care about the poor.  Francis considers poverty as a subcategory of what he calls destitution.  Destitution is not the same as poverty,” writes the Pontiff.  Destitution takes three prominent forms: (1) spiritual destitution, (2) moral destitution, and (3) material destitution.  Material destitution is what is normally called poverty,” writes Francis, and is more or less the result of the other species of destitution, as spiritual destitution leads to moral destitution which leads to material destitution.

For this reason, Romero calls povertya divine accusation”—because, like the proverbial canary in the coalmine, it serves to point out an underlying corrupt condition; ultimately, what Francis calls “spiritual destitution.”  Romero: “The existence of poverty as a lack of what is necessary is an indictment ... a denunciation of the fact that there are poor people, that there are people who are hungry, that there are people who suffer ... why do these realities exist?

Spiritual destitution, writes Francis, is that “which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love” and “the Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution.”  Because spiritual destitution is the ultimate cause of material destitution (poverty), the Gospel is also the real antidote to material destitution or poverty.  Herein lies the connection between material poverty in the world, and the Church’s concern, which is otherworldly. 

Romero: “Jesus comes into the midst of this situation not with weapons or with some political revolutionary movement but rather presents a doctrine that encompasses the great liberation from sin, a doctrine that promises eternal life.”  And Francis: “wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life.”  To improve the lot of the poor, we have to root out sin.

Because poverty is material destitution, we arrest it by assuming spiritual poverty which constitutes not destitution, but the quintessential Christian virtue.  This poverty is “a commitment” and a veritable “spirituality,” Romero tells us—a commitment to stand by the poor, and a spirituality because we choose godliness over worldly, material wealth.

The Christian who does not want to live this commitment of solidarity with the poor,” Romero admonishes, “is not worthy to be called Christian.”

De la pobreza


 
El joven padre Romero (tercero de la derecha).
English | italiano
Los pobres son la encarnación de Cristo”, escribió Mons. Óscar A. Romero cuando era un seminarista en 1941. Este mes, la Arquidiócesis de San Salvador nos pide reflexionar sobre esta epifanía juvenil de Romero, en preparación para el centenario de su nacimiento en el 2017.  A través de los andrajos, de los ojos oscuros, de la hediondez de las llagas, de las risas de los trastornados, el alma caritativa descubre y adora a Cristo”, escribió el joven Romero. El Papa Francisco dijo lo mismo en su Mensaje de Cuaresma de este año: “En los pobres y en los últimos vemos el rostro de Cristo; amando y ayudando a los pobres amamos y servimos a Cristo”.
Juntos, Francisco y Romero nos elaboran una tipología espiritual de la pobreza, que nos ayuda a entender por qué los cristianos debemos preocuparnos por los pobres. Francisco considera la pobreza como una subcategoría de lo que él llama la miseria. “La miseria no coincide con la  pobreza”, escribe el Pontífice. La miseria tiene tres formas importantes: (1) la miseria espiritual, (2) la miseria moral, y (3) la miseria material. “La miseria material es la que habitualmente llamamos pobreza”, escribe Francisco, y es más o menos el resultado de las otras especies de miseria, ya que la miseria espiritual lleva a la miseria moral que conduce a la miseria material.
Por esta razón, Romero llama a la pobrezauna denuncia divina”, porque, al igual que el proverbial canario muerto en la mina de carbón, nos sirve para señalarnos una condición subyacente de corrupción; lo que Francisco llama “la miseria espiritual.” Dice Romero: “La existencia, pues, de la pobreza como carencia de lo necesario, es una denuncia ... [una] denuncia [del] por qué hay pobres, por qué hay gente que tiene hambre, por qué hay gente que sufre ...  ¿por qué existen?
La miseria espiritual, escribe Francisco, es lo “que nos golpea cuando nos alejamos de Dios y rechazamos su amor” y “el Evangelio es el verdadero antídoto contra la miseria espiritual”. Porque la miseria espiritual es la causa última de la miseria material (de la pobreza), el Evangelio es también el verdadero antídoto contra la miseria material o la pobreza. En esto radica la conexión entre la pobreza material en el mundo, y la preocupación de la Iglesia, que es de otro mundo.
Romero: “Jesucristo no se presenta con armas ni con movimientos revolucionarios políticos, aunque da una doctrina para que todas las revoluciones de la tierra se encajen en la gran liberación del pecado y de la vida eterna”. Y Francisco: “en cada ambiente el cristiano está llamado a llevar el anuncio liberador de que existe el perdón del mal cometido, que Dios es más grande que nuestro pecado y nos ama gratuitamente, siempre, y que estamos hechos para la comunión y para la vida eterna”. Para mejorar la situación de los pobres, tenemos que acabar con el pecado.
Dado que la pobreza es miseria material, la frenamos asumiendo la pobreza espiritual que no constituye una miseria, sino la virtud cristiana por excelencia. Esta pobreza es “un compromiso” y una verdadera “espiritualidad”, nos dice Romero —un compromiso de apoyo a los pobres, y una espiritualidad porque elegimos las cosas de Dios sobre lo que es mundano y la riqueza material.
El cristiano que no quiere vivir este compromiso de solidaridad con el pobre”, sentencia Romero, “no es digno de llamarse cristiano”.

Sulla povertà





Il giovane padre Romero (terzo da destra).
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I poveri sono l’incarnazione di Cristo”, ha scritto Mons. Oscar A. Romero quando era seminarista nel 1941. Questo mese, l’Arcidiocesi di San Salvador ci chiede di riflettere su questa epifania giovanile di Romero, in preparazione per il centenario della sua nascita nel 2017. “Attraverso gli brandelli, occhi scuri, la puzza delle piaghe, le risate dei malati di mente, l’anima gentile scopre e adora Cristo”, ha scritto il giovane Romero. Papa Francesco ha detto lo stesso nel suo Messaggio per la Quaresima di quest’anno: “Nei poveri e negli ultimi noi vediamo il volto di Cristo; amando e aiutando i poveri amiamo e serviamo Cristo”.

Insieme, Francesco e Romero ci preparano una tipologia spirituale della povertà che ci aiuta a capire perché i cristiani dovrebbero preoccuparsi dei poveri. Francesco considera la povertà come una sottocategoria di ciò che egli chiama la miseria. “La miseria non coincide con la povertà”, scrive il Pontefice. La miseria assume tre forme importanti: (1) la miseria spirituale, (2) la miseria morale, e (3) la miseria materiale. “La miseria materiale è quella che comunemente viene chiamata povertà” scrive Francesco, ed è più o meno il risultato delle altre specie di miseria, perche la miseria spirituale conduce alla miseria morale che conduce alla miseria materiale.

Per questo motivo, Romero la povertà chiama “un’accusa divino”, perché, come il canarino proverbiale morto nella miniera di carbone, serve a sottolineare una condizione di base di corruzione; ciò che Francesco chiama “miseria spirituale. Dice Romero: “L’esistenza della povertà come mancanza di ciò che è necessario, è un’accusa ... un’accusa del fatto che ci sono persone povere, che ci sono persone che hanno fame, che ci sono persone che soffrono ... perché esistono?

La miseria spirituale, scrive Francesco, “ci colpisce quando ci allontaniamo da Dio e rifiutiamo il suo amore” e “il Vangelo è il vero antidoto contro la miseria spirituale”. Perché la miseria spirituale è la causa ultima della miseria materiale (povertà), il Vangelo è il vero antidoto alla miseria materiale e la povertà. Qui sta il collegamento tra la povertà materiale nel mondo, e la preoccupazione della Chiesa, che è da un altro mondo.

Romero: “Gesù viene in mezzo a questa situazione non con le armi o con qualche movimento rivoluzionario politico, ma piuttosto presenta una dottrina che abbraccia la grande liberazione dal peccato, una dottrina che promette la vita eterna”. E Francesco: “il cristiano è chiamato a portare in ogni ambiente l’annuncio liberante che esiste il perdono del male commesso, che Dio è più grande del nostro peccato e ci ama gratuitamente, sempre, e che siamo fatti per la comunione e per la vita eterna”. Per migliorare la situazione dei poveri, dobbiamo finire il peccato.

Perché la povertà è la miseria materiale, arrestiamo questa povertà assumendo la povertà spirituale che non costituisce miseria, ma la virtù cristiana per eccellenza. Questa povertà è “un compromesso” e una vera “spiritualità”, dice Romero—un compromesso a sostenere i poveri, e una spiritualità perché abbiamo scelto le cose di Dio, sopra la ricchezza materiale e la mondanità.

Il cristiano che non vuole vivere questo impegno di solidarietà con i poveri” ammonisce Romero, “non è degno di essere chiamato cristiano”.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Montini’s Embrace




The last time Archbishop Óscar A. Romero met with the newly Blessed Paul VI, the weary Pontiff’s words were a balm to the suffering Salvadoran martyr:

I understand your difficult work. It is a work that can be misunderstood … I already know that not everyone thinks like you do … Nevertheless, proceed with courage, with patience, with strength, with hope ...

It was June 21, 1978 and Pope Paul would be dead within two months: on August 6, 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Salvadoran patronal celebration, as Romero was happy to remember.  The Pope stretched out his hands with the warmth and the strength of one who supports all the Pastors and the whole Universal Church,” Romero told his flock. Paul’s consolation, Romero wrote in his Diary, “gave me the satisfaction of a confirmation of my faith, of my service, of my joy in working and suffering with Christ, for the Church and for our people.”


Montini's photo on top of Romero's bedside dresser.

Two years later, Romero would be dead also, but could things have been different?  Msgr. Orlando Cabrera, the Bishop of Santiago de Maria in El Salvador, where Romero had been bishop, posits that if Paul had lived, he would have raised Romero to the College of Cardinals, perhaps forcing a different outcome ...

El Espaldarazo de Montini



 


La última vez que Mons. Óscar A. Romero se reunió con el nuevo Beato Pablo VI, las palabras del hastiado pontífice fueron un bálsamo para el sufriente mártir salvadoreño:

Comprendo su difícil trabajo. Es un trabajo que puede ser no comprendido ... Ya sé que no todos piensan como usted ... sin embargo, proceda con ánimo, con paciencia, con fuerza, con esperanza ...

Era el 21 de junio de 1978 y el Papa Pablo estaría muerto dentro de dos meses: el 6 de agosto de 1978, la Fiesta de la Transfiguración, la celebración nacional de El Salvador, como Mons. Romero gustaba recordarlo.  Estrechándome las manos con un cariño y una fortaleza de quien se siente sostén de todos los Pastores y de toda la Iglesia Universal”, fue como Romero recordó la acogida del papa. La consolación del papa, dijo Romero en su Diario, “me dejó la satisfacción de una confirmación en mi fe, en mi servicio, en mi alegría de trabajar y de sufrir con Cristo, por la Iglesia y por nuestro pueblo”.


La foto de Montini en el cuartito de Romero.

Dos años después, Romero también estaría muerto, pero ¿podrían haber sido distintas las cosas?  Mons. Orlando Cabrera, obispo de Santiago de Maria, donde Romero fue obispo, seimagina que si Pablo hubiera sobrevivido, habría elevado Romero al Colegio de Cardenales, talvez forzando así un resultado diferente ...

L’abbraccio di Montini




L’ultima volta che Mons. Oscar A. Romero incontrato con il presto beato Paolo VI, le parole del stanco Pontefice fosse un balsamo per il sofferente martire salvadoregno:  

Capisco il vostro difficile lavoro. E ‘un lavoro che può essere frainteso ... so già che non tutti pensano come lei ... Tuttavia, proceda con coraggio, con pazienza, con forza, con speranza ...  

Era 21 giugno 1978 e Papa Paolo sarebbe morto entro due mesi: il 6 agosto 1978, festa della Trasfigurazione, la festa patronale salvadoregna, come Romero era felice di ricordare. “Stringendo le mani con  con il calore e la forza di chi supporta tutti i Pastori e tutta la Chiesa universale”, è come Romero ha descritto l'accoglienza dal Pontefice. La consolazione di Paolo, Romero scrisse nel suo diario, “mi ha dato la soddisfazione di una conferma della mia fede, del mio servizio, della mia gioia a lavorare e soffrire con Cristo, per la Chiesa e per il nostro popolo”.


La foto di Montini nel comodino di Romero.

Due anni più tardi, Romero sarebbe morto anche, ma le cose potrebbero essere diverse? Mons. Orlando Cabrera, vescovo di Santiago de Maria in El Salvador, dove Romero era stato vescovo, postula che, se Paolo fosse vissuto, avrebbe sollevato Romero al Collegio dei Cardinali, forse forzando un diverso risultato ...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Abp. Romero at the Synod for the Family



Ab. Romero officiating a wedding in the chapel where he was martyred.


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If one wanted to find a prelate in the likeness of Archbishop Óscar A. Romero at the Synod of Bishops on the Family, the closest fit might arguably be Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Of all the prominent figures at the Synod, Card. Müller best reflects the unique combination of tradition and innovation of Romero.  Although Müller has been in the press for his opposition to easing restrictions on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, he considers Liberation Theology to be “among the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology,” and is a great admirer of Archbishop Romero.

Similarly, Romero who is a progressive hero for his hard line on social justice, was conservative on marriage and family.  When St. John Paul II acknowledged the need for “pastoral care” for divorced and remarried Catholics at the end of the 1980 Synod on the Family, Romero responded coolly to the idea.  Naturally,” Romero remarked, “the Pope is not speaking about blessing adultery but he is calling us to be understanding because pastoral experience has taught us much about the suffering of those homes where people were not faithful to their commitment.”  Divorced and remarried Catholics, said Romero, “should know that they can rely on God’s mercy and that the Church will continue to walk with them so that they might be converted and live.”  Romero’s words, emphasizing the failure to be “faithful” and need to be “converted” reflects a traditional disposition on the question.

Romero had spoken at length on the issue a few months before, arguing that the Church needed to reassert traditional values (“austerity”—not “mercy”) to counteract shifting sexual mores.  In the Church, Romero said, “marriage has been redeemed as a sacrament, a most high vocation that today more than ever before must be lived in the fullness of a demand that our people claim as their own.”  Thus, he added: “My beloved sisters and brothers, now is not the time for immorality but for austerity and if marriage is above all an image of the infinite love of God, then this demands an austerity of life that is needed at this time of change.”


Of course, this is a different time and a different kairos—and we really cannot predict what Romero would do in this setting.


Among the bishops at the synod was Msgr. José Escobar Alas, the current Archbishop of San Salvador (about to pass under the statue of Ven. Paul VI in the photo).  CNS photo.

One voice in the Synod that would certainly have resonated with Romero was that of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who pleaded for the Synod’s focus not to lose sight of the devastating toll poverty takes on the family lives of many Catholics.  Poverty “affects relationships,” Card. Tagle said.  One dramatic effect of poverty is migration. De facto there is separation of couples and separation of parents from their children, but not because they could not stand each [other], not because there is a breakdown in communication, not because of conflicts,” the Cardinal said.  They get separated because they love each other and the best way for some of them to show concern and love and support is to leave and find employment elsewhere.”  He added that the airport “has become a traumatic place for me—not because of my travels and the dangers—but to see and hear especially mothers talking to their children in the airport, bidding them goodbye, and you can see how their hearts are broken.”

Romero, too, was greatly concerned about the damage to family life caused by extreme poverty. Earlier this year, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the Postulator of Archbishop Romero’s canonization cause and the President for the Pontifical Council on the Family, said that Romero would be a saint for families.  He pointed to Romero’s impassioned defense of the peasant families, squeezed by enormous socioeconomic pressure and oppression.  In his fourth pastoral letter, Romero documented in great detail the various ways in which poor families are challenged by structural injustice.  This is not to say that Romero gave poor families a pass on their own responsibility.  The church knows perfectly well that among those who lack material goods there is a great deal of sinfulness,” he wrote. “In the name of the preferential option for the poor there can never be justified the machismo, the alcoholism, the failure in family responsibility, the exploitation of one poor person by another, the antagonism among neighbors, and the so many other sins” found in society.

Lastly, we hear echoes of Romero in the Synod’s message to families who suffer from violence and persecution in places like Iraq, Syria, and other war-torn lands.  Romero mobilized in defense of families affected by the civil strife in El Salvador, creating an archdiocesan Legal Aid Office that defended the rights of political prisoners and victims of atrocities.  He comforted the “Mothers of the Disappeared” and consoled the families of hostages, of all political stripes.  When businessman Jaime Hill Argüello was kidnapped by guerrillas in 1979, Romero pleaded, “I beg you on my knees, if it is necessary, to return freedom to the people, our sisters and brothers and thus restore tranquility to these beloved homes.”  (In a happy postscript, today Hill Argüello works with his former captors to protect deported Salvadorans.)

It really is impossible to know where Romero would stand on the issues facing the Synod.  Given his historical positions, it is nearly possible to see his shadow over the proceedings.  What most appears certain is that he would be attentive to the developments and conclusions.


Update


The current Archbishop of San Salvador, Msgr. José Luis Escobar Alas, spoke out against the effects of criminalized violence and poverty on the family.  “Violence has gained much power in El Salvador, to the point that gangs outnumber police,” said the prelate.  He stated that Salvadoran families are severely affected by crime and are the victims of extortion, murder and kidnapping.  Throughout El Salvador, it has become common practice for criminal gangs to extort “rent” payments from small business owners, such as grocery store operators and cab drivers, in exchange for the gangs’ protection, which practically means in exchange for being left alone.  When payments are not made, families are threatened, kidnapped or even killed in grizzly, exemplary executions meant to terrorize the citizenry.  Another drama that Salvadorans face, according to the prelate, is poverty, which has forced thousands of families to disintegrate, because some members had to leave the country to seek the opportunities to eke out a livelihood abroad.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Romero torna a Roma






Mons. Romero all’altare del suo martirio.



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L’ultimo colpo di scena nella improbabile storia di Oscar Romero ha stato una Messa celebrata a San Salvador per benedire una statua del prospettivo santo salvadoregno.  Questa Messa—per benedire una statua!— è stata presieduta dal nunzio apostolico, concelebrata dal vescovo ausiliare di San Salvador, con la partecipazione del ex presidente di Salvador, così come il attuale presidente dell’Assemblea legislativa salvadoregna, e da un rappresentante della Repubblica di Taiwan.  La prossima fermata per questa statua è il Giardino “El Salvador” a Roma.  Sarà interessante vedere chi verrà a salutarla al suo arrivo nella capitale italiana.

 

[Notizie correlate: ritardi nei piani romani]

 

La cerimonia è stata commovente anche per altri motivi.  La liturgia si è svolta nello stesso altare dove l’arcivescovo fu assassinato 34 anni fa.  Dall’altare, Mons. Leon Kalenga, il rappresentante del papa, nato in Ghana, ha ricordato all’assemblea che si trovava dove mons. Romero fu assassinato nel 1980.  “Mons. Romero era un grande pastore e uomo di pace”, disse Kalenga.  “Io sono nel punto esatto in cui ... Monsignor Romero ha incontrato la morte, ma il suo sangue non era nessun seme di odio o inimicizia. Ma di riconciliazione e di perdono, siamo felici di benedire questa immagine di nostro amato Monsignor Oscar Romero”, ha aggiunto il presule.




 

Erano anche presenti i due fratelli sopravvissuti di Romero, così come il suo vicario generale, chi oggi è presidente della Fondazione Romero in El Salvador, Msgr. Ricardo Urioste.  La verità, la libertà, la giustizia e la pace sono stati i pilastri della causa di mons. Romero”, ha dichiarato Urioste.


L’opera d'arte è stato creata dallo scultore salvadoregno Guillermo Perdomo.
 

Da parte sua, il Presidente dell’Assemblea, Sigfrido Reyes, ha ritenuto che sicuramente, Romero sarebbe felice con il fatto che la sua immagine sia installato a Roma, la città che amava, dove è stato ordinato sacerdote, e ha espresso un desiderio: “Spero che presto Papa Francesco ci darà la notizia che noi tanto aspettiamo—la beatificazione e successiva canonizzazione di San Romero d’America!

Romero vuelve a Roma












Mons. Romero en el altar de su martirio.


English | Italiano


El último giro en la historia inverosímil de Mons. Óscar A. Romero ha sido una misa celebrada en San Salvador para bendecir una estatua del prospectivo santo salvadoreño. Esta misa—para bendecir una estatua—estuvo presidida por el Nuncio Apostólico, concelebrada con el obispo auxiliar de San Salvador, con la participación del ex presidente de El Salvador, así como el actual presidente de la Asamblea Legislativa de El Salvador, y un representante de la República de Taiwán. La siguiente parada de esta estatua es el Jardín “El Salvador”, en Roma. Será interesante ver quién llega a dar la bienvenida a su llegada a la capital italiana.

[Noticia relacionada: retraso en planes romanos]
La ceremonia fue conmovedora por otras razones. La liturgia se celebró en el mismo altar donde el arzobispo fue asesinado hace 34 años. Desde el altar, Mons. León Kalenga, el representante del papa, nacido en Ghana, recordó a la asamblea que se paraba donde Mons. Romero fue asesinado en 1980. “Monseñor Romero fue un gran pastor y hombre de paz”, dijo Kalenga. “Me encuentro en el lugar exacto donde ... Monseñor Romero encontró la muerte pero su sangre no fue semilla de odio, ni enemistad. Sino de  reconciliación  y perdón, estemos felices para bendecir esta imagen de nuestro amado Monseñor Óscar Romero”, añadió el prelado.
También estuvieron presentes los dos hermanos sobrevivientes de Romero, así como su vicario general, quien ahora es presidente de la Fundación Romero en El Salvador, Mons. Ricardo Urioste. “La verdad, la libertad, la justicia y la paz fueron los pilares de la causa de Monseñor Romero”, dijo Urioste.
La obra fue creada por el escultor salvadoreño Guillermo Perdomo.
Por su parte, el Presidente de la Asamblea, Sigfrido Reyes, consideró que seguramente, Mons. Romero estaría feliz con el hecho de que su imagen se instale en Roma, la ciudad que tanto amó, donde fue consagrado sacerdote, y expresó un deseo: “Espero que pronto el Papa Francisco nos anuncie la noticia que tanto esperamos—¡la beatificación y posterior canonización de San Romero de América!






Romero goes back to Rome





Ab. Romero at the altar of his martyrdom.
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The latest twist in the unlikely story of Archbishop Óscar A. Romero has been a Mass celebrated in San Salvador to bless a statue of the prospective Salvadoran saint. This mass—to bless a statue!—was presided by the Apostolic Nuncio, concelebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, with the participation of the former President of El Salvador, as well as the current speaker of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, and a representative of the Republic of Taiwan. The next stop for this statue is the "El Salvador" Gardens in Rome. It will be interesting to see who turns out for its arrival in the Italian capital.
The ceremony was poignant for other reasons. The liturgy was held at the same altar where the Archbishop was murdered 34 years ago. From the altar, Msgr. Leon Kalenga, the papal representative, who was born in Ghana, reminded the assembly that he stood on the spot where Ab. Romero had been assassinated in 1980. “Archbishop Romero was a great pastor and a man of peace,” said Kalenga. “I stand on the exact spot where ... Archbishop Romero met his death but his blood was not a seed of hatred or enmity, but of reconciliation and forgiveness; we are happy to bless this image of our beloved Archbishop Oscar Romero,” added the prelate.
Also present were the two surviving brothers of Romero and his vicar general, who is now president of the Romero Foundation in El Salvador, Msgr. Ricardo Urioste. “Truth, freedom, justice and peace were the pillars of the cause of Archbishop Romero,” Urioste declared.
The statue was created by the Salvadoran sculptor Guillermo Perdomo.
For his part, the Speaker of the Assembly, Sigfrido Reyes, said that surely, Archbishop Romero would be happy with the fact that his image will be installed in his beloved Rome, where he was ordained a priest, and he expressed one wish: “I hope that Pope Francis will soon announce the news we have been waiting for—the prompt beatification and subsequent canonization of Saint Romero of America!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Blessed Del Portillo and Abp. Romero






Among the many virtues of Alvaro del Portillo, the Opus Dei Prelate beatified on Saturday, September 27, 2014, we can include generosity and inclusiveness.  Reproduced below is the letter Blessed Del Portillo directed to Archbishop Óscar A. Romero in November 1979, as Romero entered the most difficult period of his ministry, and the last months of his life.  Our translation follows below.




Opus Dei

General President
Rome. November 9, 1979

Most Rev. Mgr. Oscar A. Romero
Archbishop of San Salvador
Your Excellency/My dear Mr. Archbishop,

Through the Opus Dei Chaplain in your dear country, I have received your affectionate letter recalling the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the fundation of Opus Dei.

I wish to answer immediately to thank you for that expression of affection, and for joining our thanksgiving to the Lord for all the benefits he has bestowed upon His Work in this first fifty years of its existence.

I know that the partners and associates of Opus Dei--there as everywhere, thanks be to Go--work with commitment and are motivated only by the desire to serve the Church. I am aware of the fondness they have for you and of the fidelity with which they live the Spirit of the Work, which leads us to echo the instructions of the Reverend Ordinary in all the dioceses in which we work and to direct the carriage--as our Founder, of holy memory, used to say--in the same direction as the diocesan prelate.

I beg you to continue to pray for our apostolic work throughout the world. For my own part, I assure you that I will commend you daily during Holy Mass, praying for you and for your labor on behalf of souls which you carry out.

Thanking you again for your letter I remain yours truly,

Devoted in the Lord

Alvaro del Portillo

Romero expressed his gratitude for Bishop del Portillo’s letter in his December 23, 1979 sermon, delivered three months before his assassination.

Beato Del Portillo y Mons. Romero







Entre las muchas virtudes de Alvaro del Portillo, el Prelado del Opus Dei beatificado el Sábado, 27 de septiembre 2014, podemos incluir la generosidad y la inclusión. Se reproduce a continuación la carta que el Beato Del Portillo dirigió al arzobispo Óscar A. Romero en noviembre de 1979, cuando Romero entró en el período más difícil de su ministerio, y los últimos meses de su vida. Nuestra transcripción sigue a continuación.







Opus Dei


Presidente General
Roma, 9 de noviembre 1979




Excmo. y Revmo.
Mons. Oscar A. Romero
Arzobispo de San Salvador




Muy querido Señor Arzobispo:




a través del Consiliario del Opus Dei en esa querida tierra, he recibido su afectuosa carta recordando la celebración del cincuenta aniversario de la fundación del Opus Dei.


Deseo contestarle enseguida para agradecer esa muestra de afecto, y que se haya unido a nuestra acción de gracias al Señor por todos los beneficios que ha derramado sobre su Obra en estos primeros cincuenta años de vida.




Sé que los socios y asociadas del Opus Dei - ahí, como en todos los sitios, gracias a Dios - trabajan con empeno y movidos sólo por el deseo de servir a la Iglesia.  Conozco bien el afecto que le tienen y la fidelidad con que viven el espíritu de la Obra, que nos lleva a secundar las indicaciones del Revmo. Ordinario en todas las diócesis donde trabajamos, y a tirar del carro - como decía nuestro Fundador, de santa memoria - en la misma dirección que el Prelado diocesano.




Le ruego que continúe rezando por nuestra labor apostólica en todo el mundo.  Por mi parte, le aseguro que le encomendaré a diario, en la Santa Misa, pidiendo por usted y por toda la labor de almas que realiza.




Agradeciéndole de nuevo su carta, queda suyo,




Devotissimo in Domino




Alvaro del Portillo




Romero agradeció la carta de Mons. del Portillo en su homilía del 23 diciembre 1979, pronunciada tres meses antes de su asesinato.

Beato Del Portillo e Mons. Romero








Tra le molte virtù di Alvaro del Portillo, il Prelato dell'Opus Dei beatificato il Sabato 27 Settembre 2014, possiamo includere generosità e inclusività. Riprodotto qui sotto è la lettera del Beato Del Portillo indirizzato a monsignor Oscar A. Romero nel novembre 1979, quando Romero entrò nel periodo più difficile del suo ministero, e gli ultimi mesi della sua vita. La nostra traduzione segue qui sotto.




Dell'Opus Dei




Presidente Generale
Roma. 9 novembre 1979



Mons. Oscar A. Romero


Arcivescovo di San Salvador



Mio caro signor Arcivescovo,



Attraverso il Consigliere dell'Opus Dei in quella terra amata, ho ricevuto la sua lettera affettuosa ricordando la celebrazione del cinquantesimo anniversario della Fondazione dell'Opus Dei.
Vorrei rispondere immediatamente a ringraziarvi per l'espressione di affetto, e per la sua unione con il nostro rendimento di grazie al Signore per tutti i benefici che ha elargito la sua Opera in questi primi 50 anni della sua esistenza.



So che il partner e soci dell'Opus Dei-lì come ovunque, grazie a Dio-lavorare con impegno e sono motivati solo dal desiderio di servire la Chiesa. Sono consapevole dell'affetto che hanno per voi e della fedeltà con cui vivono lo Spirito dell'opera, che ci porta a risuonare le istruzioni del reverendo ordinario in tutte le diocesi in cui lavoriamo e per dirigere il carro-come nostro Fondatore, di santa memoria, diceva-nella stessa direzione, come il prelato diocesano.



Vi prego di continuare a pregare per il nostro lavoro apostolico in tutto il mondo. Per parte mia, vi assicuro che mi ricorderò di voi tutti i giorni durante la Santa Messa, pregherò per voi e per il vostro lavoro per conto delle anime che vi svolgete.



Ringraziandovi ancora per la vostra lettera rimango il sottoscritto,



Devotissimo in Domino



Alvaro del Portillo



Romero ha ringraziato la lettera di Mons. del Portillo nella sua omelia dal 23 dicembre 1979, pronunciata tre mesi primo del suo assassinio.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Romero conference at Notre Dame




Can you tell me anywhere else in the world where people are studying the homilies of a bishop who’s been dead for 25 years?,” Msgr. Ricardo Urioste asked at the University of Notre Dame conference on Óscar Romero ... in March 2005.  The question is even more poignant a decade later, as Notre Dame launches an “International Conference on Archbishop Romero,” September 25 - 27, 2014, buoyed by perceived papal favor and advances in Romero’s canonization cause.

The highlight of the conference is bound to be a keynote speech by Rev. Gustavo Gutiérrez, OP, the so-called “Father of Liberation Theology” whose friendship with Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has led to a recent rapprochement between the Vatican and the once disfavored Latin American ecclesial movement.  Gutiérrez and Müller co-authored a book together, and the Cardinal remarked that the once-suspect movement “should in my opinion be included among the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology.”  Gutiérrez’ talk, focused on Pope Francis, should shed interesting light on the relationship between Romero and Liberation Theology, as seen by one of the great forerunners of the movement.

Other highlights of the conference include retrospectives on Romero from some of his collaborators.  The aforementioned Msgr. Urioste, who was Romero’s vicar and now serves as President of Fundación Romero in El Salvador, will speak on the Spirituality of Archbishop Romero, which should serve to counter Gutiérrez by situating Romero in the Church with the authority of a close associate, a member of his pastoral team and one who is not as overtly aligned (Urioste is pretty much a rank and file cleric).  The Salvadoran human rights attorney Roberto Cuéllar, who was on Romero’s council of legal advisors, will discuss the significant contributions Romero made in the legal field with regard to human rights work.  Another portion of the seminar, featured on the last day of the panel, will focus on Romero’s “conversion”—and will feature mostly academic presentations on that subject.

Although I was not invited to the conference (but I provided some research assistance to a friend who is presenting at the conference) I offer these overview observations here.

  • As a starting point, Msgr. Urioste’s 2005 comment is still the best insight to be had: the fact that we are still having Romero conferences, that we still have not exhausted the exploration of this Catholic figure’s legacy is the biggest take-away of all.  This conference and all Romero discussions will make a difference to the extent they acknowledge and explore this starting fact, and begin to delve into why Romero remains so interesting and so compelling so many years on.  Particularly if we are on the verge of a beatification, the world will be eager to understand what makes this man a saint.
  • What is different at this conference which will provide the best opportunity for the gathering to provide a fresh contribution is the effect that a Latin American pope has brought to the scene.  Romero famously predicted that, if killed, he would “arise in the Salvadoran people.”  But he has done more than that—he has arisen in the Vatican, and that’s headline news.  Fr. Gutiérrez can talk about that because it’s not just Pope Francis—Fr. Gutiérrez’ friend Card. Müller is also a Romero admirer.  Julian Filochowski, Chairman of the Romero Trust in the UK will also give a talk about Romero and the Popes which should shed light on this story.
  • Finally, this conference, like many Romero discussions, will spend more energy exploring Romero’s conversion.  This assembly has the sophistication and intelligence required to develop the concept beyond the simplifications and exaggerations of the past.  One of the presenters, Fordham University’s Michael E. Lee, has written compellingly about the gradual and painstaking process that Romero undertook, whereby he grappled with the goliath questions posed by the harsh Salvadoran reality and evolved along the way.  Perhaps we will hear something new.
Super Martyrio will be keeping tabs on goings on in South Bend.