New Romero article

The September/October edition of The Catholic Answer magazine features an article I wrote on Oscar Romero, called “‘No to Violence!’ Who Is Oscar Romero?” You can find that article online here.


Romero, politics and all

With the Romero beatification happening this weekend, Our Sunday Visitor has kindly been pushing my set of articles, first published 2 months ago, via social media. You’ll find there a summary of Romero’s dramatic story, as well as sidebars on Rutilio Grande, the controversy surrounding the decision to recognize him as a martyr, and the political and social context in which the whole thing played out.

They’re all worth another look as we observe this rather historic moment. (John Allen, Jr., calls it “arguably the most important beatification of the early 21st century.”) But if I may, let me encourage you to scroll all the way to the sidebar called “Politics at play in Archbishop Romero’s Assassination.” It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the entire picture and essential to really getting what Romero was about.

New in OSV: on Romero, Grande, the man behind the best Romero blog, and more

Just in time for yesterday’s announcement of a date — May 23, 2015 — having been set for the beatification of Oscar Romero, not to mention the upcoming — March 24 — 35th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom and today’s 38th anniversary of the martyrdom of his friend Fr. Rutilio Grande, OSV Newsweekly has published a series of articles I’ve written exploring the whole matter.

Right here you will find my lengthy article, “The Martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero,” that offers an overview of Romero’s life, conversion, ministry, and death. At the same link is a sidebar article, “Who was Rutilio Grande?”, offering a brief portrait of the man without whom there would likely be no Blessed Oscar. Also at that same link, toward the bottom of the page, are a couple of other shorter articles, one on the factors that have made the Romero beatification such a controversial question, the other on the disturbing but important social and political context in which Romero worked and was killed.

Finally, there’s still another new article here — an interview with Carlos Colorado, the man behind the previously obscure blog that has been getting a lot of attention lately: Super Martyrio, on all things Romero.

All together, perhaps a good way to prepare for the upcoming beatification. Check ’em out!

In OSV: On Romero’s complex cause

OSV Newsweekly has just published my article on the recent dramatic developments in Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification cause. Here’s a snippet:

Many viewed Archbishop Romero as a martyr and venerated his memory from the moment of his death. But others, including some Vatican officials, were more hesitant about offering such recognition.

The reasons for this are complex and not always clear. Msgr. Rafael Urrutia, chancellor of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, told Our Sunday Visitor that officials were hesitant to beatify Archbishop Romero while those he had criticized were still alive and unwilling to offer any encouragement to supporters of liberation theology, which was under close Vatican scrutiny throughout the 1980s. At the Feb. 4 news conference, Archbishop Paglia suggested that negative reports about Archbishop Romero the Vatican had received, some of which accused him of doctrinal errors, also hindered the beatification cause.

Still, Pope John Paul II, during a 1983 pastoral visit to El Salvador, insisted, against the will of the national government, on visiting Archbishop Romero’s grave at San Salvador’s cathedral, waiting outside for someone to unlock the door when he showed up. Pope Benedict XVI said publicly in 2007 that he thought Archbishop Romero was “worthy of beatification.” And in the Vatican news conference, Archbishop Paglia revealed that Pope Benedict had taken steps to move Archbishop Romero’s cause forward just prior to his resignation from the papacy in 2013.

The article will appear in the Feb. 22 issue of the paper, but the full text is now available here at the OSV website. Next month, OSV Newsweekly will feature a set of articles I’m preparing that will explore Romero’s story in more detail.

Romero the martyr

There’s been some breaking news today on the recognition of Oscar Romero’s martyrdom by the theological committee of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. It seems that everyone is citing and linking to this page from the Italian newspaper Avvenire’s website, and as far as I can tell — to my surprise — there’s almost nothing available yet in English.

I’m sure that will change soon, but in the meantime, here’s a quick translation of the entire Avvenire report there. (At the conclusion of that summary, there’s a link to “Read the Entire Article,” but you need a subscription to get to that.)

Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated “out of hatred for the faith.” This is the news in the preview edition of Avvenire for Thursday, January 9, 2015. The members of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints’ theological committee have expressed their positive unanimous vote on the martyrdom undergone by the Archbishop of San Salvador on March 24, 1980. It is a decisive step needed for [the cause of] the Latin American bishop who was killed while celebrating the Eucharist and who is already considered to be a saint by popular acclaim. All that remains now, according to canonical practice, for Romero’s beatification is the judgment of the congregation’s bishops and cardinals and finally the approval of the Pope. His cause, introduced in March 1994 and concluded in its diocesan phase the following year, landed in Rome in 1997, promoted by its postulator, Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia.

Pope Francis cited Romero during his most recent general audience. The Archbishop of San Salvador, Bergoglio recalled, “said that mothers lived a ‘maternal martyrdom.’ In a homily for the funeral of a priest assassinated by the death squads, he [Romero] said, echoing the Second Vatican Council: ‘Everyone must be ready to die for our faith, even if the Lord doesn’t grant them this honor… To give one’s life does not mean only being killed; doesn’t it also mean to give one’s life, having the spirit of martyrdom, to give oneself in duty, in silence, in prayer, in the honest completion of one’s responsibilities, in that silence of daily life, giving one’s life little by little? Yes, like a mother gives it, who without fear, with the simplicity of the maternal martyr, conceives a child in her womb, gives birth to it, nurses it, helps it to grow, and attends to it with affection. She gives her life. She is a martyr.'”

A Romero beatification false alarm

First it was a few stray tweets yesterday afternoon from relatively obscure sources, referring to an announcement that Archbishop Oscar Romero would be beatified in 2015. Hours later, the Spanish-language newspaper El Pais reported that the source of this talk was the renowned theologian Jon Sobrino, who was saying that he had been told by the current Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar, that Pope Francis had told Escobar, in private conversation, that this would happen. Hardly an official announcement, but interesting!

A retraction soon followed. Last night came this series of five tweets from Monsignor Rafael Urrutia, vice-chancellor of the El Salvador Episcopal Conference (translation mine):

“Following the instructions of the archbishop, I communicate to all that it is not true that Bishop Romero will be beatified in 2015.”

“It is up to Pope Francis to officially announce a beatification.”

“The archbishop only comments that things are moving well along this road and that things bode well for the cause, with many possibilities.”

“And if so we will have to start thinking about where the liturgical act could be performed.”

“We rejoice at the interest in good news like this, and we invite everyone to pray for a speedy beatification of Bishop Romero.”


Marking the Romero anniversary 2014

If you’re planning on observing the 34th anniversary of Oscar Romero’s assassination this Monday, you’re already behind folks in El Salvador. An article posted at Vatican Insider reports:

The country began its commemoration of Romero’s assassination [last] Monday and will continue to do so for the entire week. Carlos Ayala Ramírez, who runs the Central American University radio station Radio Ysuka, led a meditation titled “The pastor must be where there is suffering”, in the crammed crypt of the city cathedral. Processions and vigils followed and will continue until Monday 24th. The week’s events are being attended by numerous visitors from countries across Europe, the US and Latin America.

Numerous Salvadorian social organisations will mark the exact moment on Monday 24th when the bishop was shot in the hospital crape of the Divine Providence, by marching from various locations around the city to the point where a solemn mass in going to be celebrated.

The article also includes information — well, speculation might be the better  term — on Archbishop Romero’s sainthood cause. Seems that some in high places are expecting to see his beatification in 2017, the hundredth anniversary of his birth. The full article is here.

And there’s a fine song and video called “Romero” from a band called The Project here. (Includes actual audio recording of the gunshots that killed the Archbishop!) Well worth watching and listening to (not to mention reflecting and praying over) this week.