When Pope Francis received President Funes of El Salvador, he told him that after Archbishop Romero other canonizations may be coming, and he explicitly mentioned the Jesuit Rutilio Grande, a personal friend of Romero who was killed in 1977. The assassination deeply affected Romero, who then drew inspiration from his example. (Photo: Pope Paul VI shown a picture of Fr. Grande.)
But who was Rutilio Grande? A new book by Thomas Kelly of Creighton University seeks to answer this question. When the Gospel Grows Feet: Rutilio Grande and the Church of El Salvador, An Ecclesiology in Context, Liturgical Press, 2013, explores the understanding of “church” promoted by Fr. Grande in El Salvador. The Jesuit Jon Sobrino says that “This book is a must-read for those who want to understand how the Church entered into the lives of its people in El Salvador after Vatican II and Medellin through the ministry of Rutilio Grande, S.J.”
Kelly is interested in how the Catholic Church responds or fails to respond to contemporary problems of peace and justice. “Catholic theology walks the dusty roads of history,” says Fr. Kevin F. Burke of Santa Clara University. “At its most elemental, Catholic theology is biography.” In this sense, Sobrino concludes, “When you begin with Rutilio, his life, his ministry and his death--then you can understand the period of suffering endured by the prophetic church of El Salvador.”
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