Thursday, October 01, 2015

Maradiaga: Romero, 'Man of the Cross'


Photos from @RomeroTrust and @Mustard_Seed1 on Twitter

Speaking in London this Thursday, October 1, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga compared Pope Francis to Blessed Oscar Romero, beatified in El Salvador earlier this year. [Full text of speech here.] The cardinal acknowledged a Salvadoran folk cross, crafted by a Salvadoran artist and installed in a chapel of St. George’s Cathedral, where the prelate spoke.  That cross you have there,” the Cardinal told the crowd, “is the best honor for Romero because he was a man of the cross.”  Romero, said the Cardinal, “was a man cum fide, with trust, an unlimited trust in Jesus Christ.  He was a man who had fixed his eyes on Jesus Christ and thus could walk safely amidst the pain and suffering of this people.”
The prelate’s speech was titled “From Romero to Francis: The joy and tensions of becoming a poor Church with the poor.” Rodriguez Maradiaga drew on his personal experience with Pope Francis. He is a key collaborator of the Pope, who serves as coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, a group of nine cardinals named by Francis to advise on Church governance matters.

Rodriguez Maradiaga recounted his two fleeting meetings with Romero.  He asserted that his “encounter with Romero grew more deeply from the day of his death”. Soon after Romero’s martyrdom, Rodriguez Maradiaga was sent to a diocese bordering El Salvador. With the intensity of the civil war in El Salvador increasing, Rodriguez says that “my first students, my children as bishop were the 20,000 refugees who fled into Honduras from the warring country. I was learning about Oscar Romero by the people, from the poor who had just escaped.”
Rodriguez Maradiaga said that the church’s preferential option for the poor is not new, but the cry of the poor heard anew in each generation. Looking at the lives of Pope Francis, Blessed Oscar Romero and Jesus, the Cardinal noted that each one lived alongside people living in poverty, knew them, were friends with them, loved them. As a result, each of them naturally lives out the preferential option for the poor. The Cardinal sees that Pope Francis “didn’t make the option for the poor from his lips, but from the bottom of his heart.”  He added that “Archbishop Romero and Pope Francis seem to follow parallel spiritual and pastoral paths.  Both men share an understanding of the practical implications of seeking God in all things.  A sense of openness to the presence of God in history and the world, including in struggle and discourse.”

Rodriguez Maradiaga also stated that beatifying Romero was part of Pope Francis’ process of reforming the Church, akin to the divine mandate given to St. Francis of Assisi to “Repair my church,” which did not mean repair buildings but bring spiritual renewal.  “This is what Pope Francis took from the very beginning as his task,” said the Cardinal.  “In the reparation for my Church was the reparation for the cause of beatification of Oscar Romero.

He concluded the presentation with an a cappella rendition of a song he has penned called “La Misión Continental Para Una Iglesia Misionera” (“The Continental Mission for a Missionary Church”), an homage to Pope Francis.  Its chorus runs thus: “Poverty engulfs us, but it has a solution. The joy of the Gospel calls us to mission and with Pope Francis mercy and blessing.”

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