In November 2012, two Italian bishops responded to Pope Benedict’s proclamation of a «Year of Faith» by launching a series of seminars on the witnesses of the faith, and kicking it off by highlighting Óscar Romero. Monsignor Luigi Marrucci, the Bishop of Civitavecchia-Tarquinia and Monsignor Matteo Zuppi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, presented Romero together. “To look at a martyr,” explained Bishop Zuppi, “is even more helpful than studying the Catechism.” This is not to say that martyrs are “a superior class of Christians,” he said. But, rather, martyrs are ordinary people who have simply “loved more than others.” This year, we will follow the two bishops’ lead, and present Archbishop Romero as a model for the «Year of Faith.»
Archbishop Romero embodies the “credible witness” that Pope Benedict has asked the Church to highlight this year. “What the world is in particular need of today,” the Pontiff wrote in his motu propio «PORTA FIDEI,» “is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.” As the best known 20th Cent. martyr, broadly embraced beyond the Catholic world, Archbishop Romero singularly fits the bill. (In fact, Benedict himself said that Romero was “truly credible, a witness of faith” in 2007.) Romero represents the spirit of the Church that Benedict wishes to hold up: a Church which, “like a stranger in a foreign land,” in the words of Vatican II, “presses forward amid the persecutions of the world … announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes.” (PORTA, supra.) And there can hardly be a more convincing model for the «Year of Faith» than a martyr of the faith. “By faith,” the Pope reminds us, “the martyrs gave their lives, bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel that had transformed them and made them capable of attaining to the greatest gift of love: the forgiveness of their persecutors.” (Id.) Archbishop Romero did this, and therefore he offers the ‘credible witness’ that the Pope has asked us to highlight.«Archbishop Romero for the Year of Faith» will be this Blog’s theme this year. First, we wish to highlight previous posts that illustrate Romero’s suitability to be a model for the «Year of Faith» reflections. In particular, we call attention to the following ten topics in prior blog posts.
1. The Homiliarium and Supplementum, which chart all of Romero’s homilies and collate the original audio recordings, Spanish language transcriptions, English translations, and Scriptural readings for each sermon.
2. «Septem sermones ad pauperem,» our special series analyzing Archbishop Romero’s ‘seven [last] sermons to the poor.’
3. Romero’s preaching on the Transfiguration, which sets forth Romero’s social views, as opposed to Liberation Theology.
4. Romero’s preaching, writing, journal and works on-line.
5. Romero’s Eucharistic adoration.
7. Romero’s ascetic influences/practices.
10. Romero remembered in El Salvador, through the weekly masses at his grave and incorporation into popular piety, such as Holy week commemorations.
Second, our new posts this year will continue to highlight and expand the ten topics described above, as well as introduce additional topics that illustrate «Romero for the Year of Faith.» As in previous years, you can expect to see upwards of fifty blog posts this year (the average has been 55-60 in the last three years), with recurring posts, including annual examinations of the beatification process status, annual round-ups of Romero news, and other posts examining Romero’s life and legacy. As always, the goal is to provide “well-informed news and well-researched commentary” on “all things Óscar Romero.”
And third, we will highlight «Romero for the Year of Faith» in two special series of posts this year. (1) In the first quarter of the year, we will mark the 33rd Anniv. of Mgr. Romero’s martyrdom with our third installment of «Septem sermones ad pauperem» to focus on Romero’s scriptural interpretations in his final homilies. As Providence would have it, we are on the same reading cycle in 2013 as we were in 1980. (2) In a special series of posts midyear, we will analyze Romero’s four pastoral letters, dedicating a blog post to each of the four letters and their teachings. This series will appear around the Aug. 6 date of the Feast of the Transfiguration, the date that Romero released three of his four pastoral letters.
In the words of Bishop Marrucci when presenting Archbishop Romero to his diocese of Civitavecchia in November, “We treasure our brethren who have incarnated Jesus in their own lives because through them we re-encounter the central truth of our Lord.” And, in the words of Mgr. Zuppi, Romero stands with the martyrs of the 20th century who “offer their witness to the Christians of the new millennium, just as the first martyrs do for today’s [Christian] community.” As such, Archbishop Romero represents the best that the Church has to offer a world in particular need of credible witnesses.