Sunday, March 24, 2013

Romero "What is Church?"

On March 24, 1980, Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero was killed while celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital where lived.

While archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, the “Voice of the Voiceless” spoke out relentlessly for the poor and against the oppression they experienced.

But he also spoke with a vision of the church and spoke clearly for a Church of the Poor.

Pope Francis seems to be seeking to present a new face of the Church, as a Poor Church and a Church for the poor. It would be helpful to meditate on Romero, especially his Pastoral Letters and his address at Louvain in February 1980.

To start here are a few quotations from The Violence of Love, which might help our reflection on what Church is and should be:

Authority in the church is not command,
but service.
Among Christians,
those who do not become simple as children
cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
To my shame, as a pastor,
I beg forgiveness from you, my community,
that I have not been able to carry out
as your servant
my role of bishop.
I am not a master,
I am not a boss,
I am not an authority that imposes itself.
I want to be God’s servant and yours.
homily of September 10, 1978

Christ became a man of his people and of his time:
He lived as a Jew,
he worked as a laborer of Nazareth,
and since then he continues to become incarnate
in everyone.
If many have distanced themselves from the church,
it is precisely because the church has somewhat
estranged itself from humanity.
But a church that can feel as its own all that is human
and wants to incarnate the pain,
the hope,
the affliction of all who suffer and feel joy,
such a church will be Christ loved and awaited,
Christ present.
And that depends on us.
homily of December 3, 1978

An accommodating church,
a church that seeks prestige
without the pain of the cross,
is not the authentic church of Jesus Christ.
homily of February 19, 1978


The original Spanish of the quotations can be found here.

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