Tuesday, May 21, 2013



After the feast of Pentecost in this Year of Faith, we remember the first pastoral letter of Archbishop Romero on the theme of Pentecost. The first pastoral letter of Archbishop Oscar Romero was published during the time he was bishop of Santiago de Maria, a rural diocese in El Salvador.  Entitled “The Holy Spirit In The Church,” this first Romero letter was released on Pentecost, 1975.
Although it lacks the strong language of denunciation that Romero would use half a decade later, the letter contains a clear declaration that the Holy Spirit works through the post-conciliar Church and that the Magisterium requires the prophetic denunciation of social injustice. Romero’s experience in Santiago opened his eyes to the harsh inequalities of Salvadoran life, especially for campesino people, and put him on track to his destiny as a great exponent of the social doctrine of the Church.

We are seriously concerned,” he writes, “[about] the injustice caused by the social, economic, and political inequality in which our people live.”
Romero laments that this inequality is an “obstacle” to his spiritual mission and adds that, “My words as your pastor would not be complete if they made no reference to the alarming situation in which the Church must live and move in this region of the country, a region so rich in natural gifts but groaning, as Saint Paul would say, ‘beneath the slavery of corruption and awaiting the glorious liberty of the children of God’ [Romans 8:21]. “

Romero also expresses an iteration of the “preferential option for the poor”: “Being better disposed to the virtue of poverty of spirit, which is not always just lack of material goods or passive conformity, the poor have deserved to be mentioned in the first beatitude of the Divine Master”, he writes.  He adds that, “their precarious situation has merited for them a preferential love on the part of Christ and his Church.”
He writes with tenderness. “Even when denunciation is necessary,” Romero writes, “my language will be that of a loving pastor, of one who has no enemies except those who deliberately will to be the enemies of Christ’s truth.”

He criticizes a purely temporal liberation. “The paradise which a false idea of liberation seeks to construct on this earth is pure illusion,” he warns. By contrast, “the true goal of Christian liberation and the true competency of the Church’s labors,” he writes elsewhere, is “dignifying human beings to the point of making them, through conversion of heart and acceptance of grace, true children of God.”

In the first pastoral letter of Archbishop Romero, we see a bishop who picks up the mandates of the Second Vatican Council and cautiously begins to implement them. A Bishop who walks to the existential peripheries to meet the poor ...

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