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ROMERO ON JUSTICE AND UNITY

October 14, 2018

ROMERO ON JUSTICE AND UNITY

On May 7, 1979, Archbishop Oscar Romero met with pope John Paul II. The pope apparently had received reports from some Salvadorean bishops denouncing the “divisive” nature of Romero’s prophetic utterances against the oppression and injustice practiced by Salvadorean official institutions, supported by the oligarchic wealthy families of the country. In Romero’s own words:

“He (the pope) reminded of the situation in Poland, where he was faced with a government that was not Catholic and where he had to develop the Church in spite of the difficulties. He said the unity of the bishops is very important. Again recalling his time as a pastor in Poland, he said that keeping the bishops unified was the main problem. Again I clarified, telling him that this is also something that I want very much, but that I was aware that unity cannot be pretended. Rather, it must be based on the gospel and on the truth” – From “Archbishop Oscar Romero: A Shepherd’s Diary,” trans. By Irene B. Hodgson, St. Anthony Messenger Press.

Oscar Romero’s prophetic words, flowing like a river from its wellsprings from the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the best answer to the insidious racism practiced in many parishes and dioceses here in South Florida, and in many other places,  where, under the pretext of unity racist exclusions are justified, a false cultural homogeneity is created, denying Hispanics and other ethnic and cultural groups the right to express their own traditions and to participate in the ministries and commitments of their community – “We don’t want a Spanish – or Brazilian, or Mayan, or Vietnamese – Mass, let’s keep our parish one big, happy family – under the dominant culture, that is” – this has become the rallying cry to the banners of xenophobia and exclusion,

Romero knew and felt, deep within his prophetic heart, that unity cannot be purchased at the expense of the justice, compassion and mercy of the Gospel – Ultimately, this was the main reason he suffered martyrdom – He would not abandon the poor, the humiliated, the hungry, for the sake of embracing a prostituted unity – The Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Gospel that IS Jesus Christ – was the overriding and guiding passion of his life.

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