A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to his People: Volume V - The Complete Homilies of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero
CATEGORY: Oscar A. Romero
CATEGORY: Pastoral Resources
This fifth volume gathers together Romero’s homilies during five grimly dramatic months in El Salvador, beginning with the archbishop’s mourning for another of his priests who was gunned down by a death squad. Despite the ongoing slaughter of innocent persons and the ruthless treatment of any dissident voice, he continued to speak out courageously in his weekly homilies to the nation and the world.
These homilies reveal Romero above all as a pastor who trusted his people. And the people, intuitively sensing this great trust, responded in kind. Romero often acknowledged that his homilies were collaborative creations, involving not just the Spirit’s inspiration and his own reflections, but the thoughts and the feelings of the people as well. He never “spoke down” to the people in the condescending way of many church leaders and countless politicians.
Fully aware that the military rulers and the wealthy families of El Salvador were terrified at the thought of “common people” who could think, Romero in his homilies constantly preached the need for God’s people to read the press critically, to develop a keen social awareness, and to judge their harsh reality in the light of the Gospel.Among the many topics discussed by Romero in this period are the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua and the coup d’état in his own country, which gave him hope at first but not for long. This volume is an English translation of the 28 homilies Romero delivered between June 21 and November 25, 1979, corresponding to the fifth volume of the original Spanish edition and to Cycle B of the church’s liturgy.
Editor and Translator, Joseph V. Owens, is a Jesuit who has spent most of his active career working in the Caribbean and Central America. His various ministries have included grass-roots organizing, pastoral work, radio apostolate, and teaching.
Oscar A. Romero, born in Ciudad Barrios, on August 15th 1917, studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained priest in 1942. He served the diocese of San Miguel for 25 years. In 1967 he moved to San Salvador as Secretary General of the National Bishops’ Conference. With little pastoral involvement he lived in the Jesuit-run seminary and became speechwriter to the Nuncio. In 1970, appointed Auxiliary Bishop, he expressed frequent criticism of the social involvement of the clergy that had come in the wake of the Medellin Conference of the Continent’s Bishops. In 1974 he was named to the rural diocese of Santiago de Maria and found himself once more caught up in the rural people’s struggle for survival.
In 1977 he was the surprise choice as San Salvador’s new archbishop. Over three years he became the voice of the voiceless poor, speaking the truth about the violations of human rights and the exploitation of the poor. His weekly sermons were legendary and gave hope to the communities suffering terrible repression. He saw six of his priests and dozens of lay leaders assassinated by the security forces before he himself was gunned down at the altar as he celebrated a requiem mass on Monday March 24th 1980.
He is venerated in Latin America and throughout the world as a Vatican II Bishop who made a fundamental option for the poor and gave his life for his people. He is already "Servant of God" Romero - the first step on the ladder to Sainthood. The cause for his Beatification was accepted in Rome in 1997. Ten years later Pope Benedict XVI stated “that Romero himself merits beatification, I do not doubt." In that light the official recognition of Archbishop Romero’s sanctity will surely be forthcoming.
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