from the Comboni Missionaries of America/Asia
on the Occasion
of the Beatification of Bishop Romero
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As the delegates from America and Asia to the XVIII General Chapter we greet you fraternally. We wish to express our closeness to you and to share with you our reflections on the Beatification of Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero (Saturday, May 23, 2015). Without doubt this is an historic event of great importance for our Church. For this reason we would like to share our reflections on some aspects of this event:
- The solemn beatification by the universal Church confirms what our people already believe and celebrate: Romero is a martyr. In this beatification we also celebrate the gift of their lives offered by so many other martyrs whose struggles we have perhaps never known about. We admire the courage and fidelity of those who will be beatified in Peru this coming December: Fr. Zbigniew Strzalkowski, Fr. Michael Tomaszeck and Fr. Alexander Dordi, victims of terrorism, as well as of hundreds of committed lay persons, catechists, men and women who obstinately defended human rights; they were adults, the elderly, youth and innocent children, religious and priests martyred for the love of Christ, the Church and the people in societies that regard themselves as Christians. The Reign of God is proposed to all to become the commitment of all. Like them Bishop Romero was a victim of the forces of evil embodied in the alliance of the economic, political and military powers that hold on to their illegitimate privileges against the struggle of the oppressed for freedom.
- In a time of rapid and great changes in which we are called to rediscover the prophetic dimension of our faith and consecration, we wish to reaffirm that Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero is a model prophet for our time. The suffering of our defenseless brothers and sisters, violence in all forms that is increasing everywhere, and criminalizing human rights defenders are challenges to our prophetic commitment today.
- To be a martyr cannot be improvised. With this affirmation we mean to highlight the profound mystic quality of Bishop Romero that was forged in the daily prayer by which he lived out his being a Christian, priest and pastor. His priestly spirituality is manifested in his Episcopal motto: “Sentire cum Ecclesia”. However since all spirituality is a journey of growth and docility to the Spirit, the martyrdom of Fr. Rutilio Grande, SJ and the violence carried out by the military against the people, mark his process of conversion: from indifference/comfort to solidarity with the poorest and oppressed.
- In Bishop Romero we discover the image of the Good Shepherd who fully identifies with his people and who suffers in his own flesh the abuses against the dignity of persons, who raises his voice to condemn injustice and preach peace, who prays for his brothers and sisters and loves them so much that he willingly gives up his life in the firm hope that his death will be a source of life for the Salvadoran people.
- What meaning does this ecclesial event have for us today? The beatification of Bishop Romero presents him as a model of life and mission:
- Interpreting reality in the light of faith should bring us to a personal and community conversion;
- Evangelization includes commitment to the integral liberation of persons and peoples;
- The evangelizer identifies in a radical way with the situation of the people in their sufferings and hopes;
- The values of the Reign of God are always the utopia that enlightens the path of our missionary service;
- Giving one’s life for the sheep gives tangible form to our vocation to follow the pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.
Finding security as we trust in the words of the Gospel: “If the grain of wheat does not fall into the ground and die, it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much fruit” (John 1224), we want to invite you to create a new path of renewal and hope for ourselves and our peoples. In communion with all of you, in memory of Bishop Romero and of all the martyrs of America, and in particular Fr. Ezekiel Ramin, we firmly believe that the XVIII General Chapter that is now approaching offers us all an opportunity to renew ourselves in faithfulness to the charism of St. Daniel Comboni and in imitation of the martyrs of our church in America.
Mexico City, May 15, 2015