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James Martin, S.J.March 23, 2010

I can think of no modern churchman who deserves the title "saint" more than Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the martyred archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated 30 years ago today.  He was the first bishop martyred while celebrating Mass since the time of St. Thomas of Becket.  There are many great resources about Monsenor Romero, as he is called by many Spanish-speaking Catholics, including a new and beautifully illustrated book, which I just finished a few weeks ago called Oscar Romero and the Communion of Saints, from Orbis Books. by Scott Wright.

Today there is this tribute by William Doino in the London Times, who notes: "Progressives can applaud his prophetic stance on social justice; and traditionalists can champion his deep spirituality and obedience to historic Catholic teaching."  There is this report from BBC news on the remembrance of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador today among those who remember him best. There is this piece in The Washington Post on his "radical act of staying put."  There is this article from America's archives, on the 25th anniversary, on the contemporary parallels to Romero's mise-en-scene.  And there is this week's cover story in Commonweal, by Robert White, the former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.  Finally, this terrific resource webpage at Creighton University.

At his installation as bishop, Romero, though a deeply prayerful man, was thought by many to be the tool of the wealthy, the landed, the powerful.  But the death of his friend, the Jesuit Rutilio Grande, helped to open his eyes to the injustices visited on the poor in his land, and transformed him into a powerful advocate for social justice.  He was a tireless promoter of the Gospel, a lover of God, a friend of Jesus.  His martyrdom came as a direct result of his standing up for God's beloved.   

The delay in Archbishop Romero's canonization verges on the unbelievable.   

James Martin, SJ

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Rick Malloy
14 years ago
Right You are Jim, and you know about saints!
Mons. Romero's Prayer:
"It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fractionof the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of sayingthat the kingdom always lies beyond us.No statement says all that could be said.No prayer fully expresses our faith.No confession brings perfection.No pastoral visit brings wholeness.No program accomplishes the church's mission.No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.We plant the seeds that one day will grow.We water seeds already planted,knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberationin realizing that. This enables us to do something,and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,but it is a beginning, a step along the way,an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the differencebetween the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.We are prophets of a future not our own.      Amen."
Brian Schaffran
14 years ago
Mr. Malloy, I hope, but can't assume, that you jest.  Do a bit of reading and you'll find that he neither supported Communism nor Capitalism.
Your overtly poor display of the English language makes me think you're simply mocking the uninformed...and if you are, I apologize - but I just can't be sure that this is not how you normally speak.  -Or worse, that you're from Texas and support the removal of his name from the history textbooks.
Please assure me that you're being satirical, in which case I applaud you.  Sometimes it's just hard to tell without being able to actually hear your tone.
Rick Malloy
14 years ago
Hello Brian Schaffran,
For the record, I think you meant to reply to Jim McCrea's rather strange comment, not my posting of Romero's prayer.
Rick Malloy, S.J.
14 years ago
Father Jim:
You are the expert on saints but in my view Romero's sainthood ( and our Lord's message of his holiness) already exist in the hearts and minds of so many millions of people. He is a saint if anyone deserves this title in my lifetime.
The Vatican confirmation will come, and it will only confirm what the Lord has already loudly announced.
Father Malloy, The inspirational prayer you reference was actually written by Bishop Ken Untener in 1979. Bishop Untener later included  the prayer as part of a relefection on Romero and his martyrdom.
Wishing a holy remaining Lenten and Easter Season to both you and thank you both for your service and mission to our Church and the world.
Craig McKee
14 years ago
El Salvador's Episcopal Conference also shares the desire for this canonisation:
Newsweek's religion writer Kenneth Woodward offers insights into the ''political'' process behind the scenes in his masterful Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't, and Why, and a possible explanation for the reasons Oscar Romero will be waiting at least until the end of the current pontificate.

Rick Malloy
14 years ago
Hi Joe Cleary, 
Thanks for the correction.  This now is in league with Pedro Arrupe's famous "Be in Love, Stay in Love" quote, i.e., attributed to him but most likely written by someone else.
Jim McCrea
14 years ago
Don't you all know that he was one of them there pinko commies who gave up Jesus for Marx?
Besides, he weren't no pope, so there is no way he can be made a saint until every right-wing pope that ever existed can be cannnnonnnized.
Domingo Garcia
14 years ago
I can't remember how I first heard of Archbishop Oscar Romero.  I think I was a young communist kinda like Thomas Merton.  I was reading a lot of history about Latin America... a lot.  And I kept reading about the deaths of a lot of clergy during the sad histories of so many of those countries.  And it made me angry.  The injustice in general, but the murders of so many religious just helped justify my radicalism.  But I suppose with a little more reading, I came to understand what made him (Romero and others like him) so special and his death not as tragic as I had thought before.  Oscar Romero was a heck of a guy who took the path less traveled.  That takes courage and I only hope that I could be even a little like him someday.  Sorry, first time posting on this website, it never even occurred to me to look for this.  I am a bit of a renewed and more thorough Catholic owing to the reading I have done about Oscar Romero, the Jesuits and the various Saints.  I will be sure to return often!  By the by, anyone able to tell me anything about a Bishop Gerardi of Guatemala?  Thanks!

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