Friday, November 13, 2015

The next Romero?


San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas; Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez; Santiago de Maria Bishop Rodrigo Orlando Cabrera Cuéllar; Zacatecoluca Bishop Elías Samuel Bolaños Avelar.

#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy

Two weeks ago, Pope Francis challenged the Salvadoran bishops to be a church that goes forth, as he has so often said, and to put Archbishop Romero and his values ​​to work for the benefit of his people. “A martyr,” said Francis, “is not one who remains relegated to the past, a lovely image that adorns our churches and that we remember with a certain nostalgia.” The pope recalled that El Salvador “still has ahead of it a series of difficult tasks” and needs “to foster the promotion and development of a nation that seeks true justice, genuine peace and the reconciliation of hearts.” And Archbishop Romero, the pope said, is “an incentive and a renewed endeavour of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ” in his country.
The Pope's message was unmistakable to those who knew how to hear it. The Salvadoran priest Leopoldo Sosa, who was present at the audience, has no doubt of its meaning. Meditating on the words of the pope, Sosa acknowledges that “for us in El Salvador, for all priests and for the Bishops, this is a challenge. The Lord is calling to us in a special way,” says Sosa. “Really, let us not be content with putting Romero on the altars, but let us imitate him and be for the people what Romero was for the people: identifying with the poor, defending the cause of the poor, living like Jesus among the people. This is what the pope is telling us: shepherds who smell of sheep.” Sosa finished with a remarkable acknowledgment: “Our people are bleeding in this violence and insecurity, the problem of gangs, the maras, and I think we are lacking that figure, that model, that testimony, that hope.” We need another Archbishop Romero!
But who can be the Blessed Romero of this moment? It is only a stray question, but what a question! The graphics accompanying this note show the bishops whose dioceses bear the burden of gangs homicides, but perhaps it is not so fair to impose disproportionate obligations upon them. I float the idea anyway. I hope to develop the theme in future posts, hopefully with input from you readers, whom I leave these outstanding questions, and I add the following ones: (1) God has given us the beatification of Archbishop Romero. Now, what do we do with it? (2) How can we apply the teachings of Blessed Romero to these circumstances? (3) How should we observe the Jubilee Year of Mercy the Pope has proclaimed to respond to the joys and hopes of the holy people of God on pilgrimage in El Salvador?  Pray!  Tell!
Maps showing that the dioceses of San Salvador, Santiago de María and Zacatecoluca see the most homicides. (CEDES, EL FARO.)

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