Sunday, August 5, 2007

Archbishop Romero: Friend of Opus Dei

Archbishop Oscar Romerovia Wheat and Reeds, the suprising (and delightful) news that Archbishop Romero was a son of Opus Dei. This from a letter Archbishop Romero wrote to Paul VI, after St. Escriva's d:
"I had the good fortune of knowing Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer personally and of receiving from him support and fortitude to be faithful to the inalterable doctrine of Christ and to serve with apostolic zeal the Holy Roman Church and this land of Santiago de Maria, which Your Holiness has entrusted to me.

"I have known, for several years now, the work of Opus Dei here in El Salvador, and I can testify to the supernatural sense that animates it and to the fidelity to the ecclesiastical magisterium that characterizes the work.

St. Josemaria Escriva"Personally, I owe deep gratitude to the priests involved with the work, to whom I have trusted with much satisfaction the spiritual direction of my life and that of other priests.

"People from all social classes find in Opus Dei a secure orientation for living as sons of God in the midst of their daily family and social obligations. And this is doubtless due to the life and doctrine of its founder.

"In this stormy world overrun by insecurity and doubt, the superb doctrinal fidelity that characterizes Opus Dei is a sign of special grace from God.

Source: Romero & Escriva - Fr Ray Blake @ St Mary Magdalen (Brighton).

James R. Brockman, S.J., in "The Spiritual Journey of Oscar Romero", writes:

Romero remained an auxiliary bishop of San Salvador until October of 1974, when he was named bishop of Santiago de Maria, a rural diocese. He remained in Santiago until named archbishop of San Salvador in February of 1977, at the age of fifty-nine. During these five years, his retreat notes show him continuing to work on the problems of getting along with others and trying to organize his life better, as he had in earlier retreats. At least two of the retreats he made were preached by priests of the secular institute Opus Dei, and during these years and perhaps earlier his ordinary confessor and spiritual director was one or another priest of Opus Dei. While he was bishop of Santiago de Maria, he wrote to Pope Paul VI to appeal for the beatification of [Escriva].

That said, John Allen Jr., in his Opus Dei (currently reading), cites the same letter but adds the cautionary note:

"this letter was written before the 1977 murder in El Salvador of Father Rutilio Grande, an event that "radicalized" Romero and led him to distance himself from some earlier conservative views."

Still, I wonder to what degree it estranged Romero from Opus Dei itself?

* * *
Romero regularly denounced human rights abuses being committed by the Salvadoran armed forces and “death squads” and was viewed by the Salvadoran far right as a threat to its political agenda.

On the eve of his assassination, Romero addressed his homily to government soldiers and pleaded: “In the name of God, in the name of these suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: Stop the repression.”

Romero was fatally shot the next day, March 24, 1980, by a single sniper’s bullet while performing mass in the Chapel of Divine Providence in El Salvador’s capital San Salvador. Romero has since become perhaps the most recognizable figure in the struggle of poor Latin Americans for human rights and dignity, and has been nominated for recognition by the Vatican as a saint. The move reportedly is supported by Pope John Paul II.

(From Center for Justice & Accountability).

My own introduction to Romero was long before my conversion, by way of Oliver Stone's Salvador and later through the Catholic Worker. Stone of course opts for a more dramatic and over the top version of the assassination.

On the cause for the beatification of Archbishop Romero, see:

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