“Romero shall teach bishops to heal people and not scandalize them”

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“Romero shall teach bishops to heal people and not scandalize them”

By Salvatore Cernuzio/ lastampa.it

The Pope meets with the pilgrims from El Salvador in Rome for Romero’s canonization. Archbishop Escobar asked that the martyr become a “doctor of the Church” and that Rutilio Grande be beatified. The embrace to Angelita Morales, close to the saint until the day of his assassination.

Not only a saint, but also a Doctor of the Church. The canonization has now been celebrated, and the hundreds of thousands of faithful in El Salvador now have a new hope: to see Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero proclaimed, “Doctor of the Church”. A request they made today directly to the Pope, along with that of a papal visit to El Salvador during the WYD of Panama in January 2019, through Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas, during the meeting in the Paul VI Hall granted by the Pontiff to the Salvadoran pilgrims - including President Salvador Sánchez Cerén - who came to Rome for Romero’s canonization.

Spokesman of his people’s feelings, the bishop of the capital San Salvador also expressed his wish to the Pope to soon see Blessed Father Rutilio Grande, the Jesuit killed in ’77 in Salvador by the same paramilitary forces who then murdered Romero in March three years later. Grande’s murder marked Archbishop Romero - as he himself stated - to the point of making him fully and totally embrace the “cause” of the people against all forms of oppression and repression.

“I implore you on behalf of the pastors of the people of God, in the most attentive, humble and respectful way, to authorize the opening of the proper process so that St. Oscar Arnulfo Romero can be declared Doctor of the Church ... we are sure that his most valuable teaching can help the Church, the lack of faith and all the serious violations of human rights,” Escobar said, adding: “In these turbulent times we assure you of our enormous loyalty, our total support and our constant prayer for your Petrine ministry.

Francis arrived around 11:30 at the audience welcomed by songs and music, surrounded by a multitude of hands that - if not busy applauding, or waving pictures of Romero, were trying to pull him closer for a greeting or a hug (among these “a 90-year-old grandmother who exulted as if she were 15”, the Pope noted) - he did not respond directly to any of the requests of the people of El Salvador. Nor did he confirm a visit to the country, as desired a few days ago by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, one of the closest collaborators of the martyr Romero.

In his speech, all in Spanish interspersed with a few sentences off the cuff, Bergoglio drew inspiration from the figure and teaching of this “distinguished pastor of the American continent” to address a message to bishops, priests and the people themselves who for Romero represented the priority of his ministry. They are people, he said, who “have a living faith that expresses itself in different forms of popular religiosity and that shapes their social and family life”. Francis asked to respect this profound faith and recommended to bishops and priests, “to take care of God’s holy people and not to scandalize them”.

The example is always that of Saint Romero. His memory, the Pontiff affirmed, is “an exceptional occasion to send a message of peace and reconciliation to all the peoples of Latin America”, where “the difficulties and the scourge of division and war have not been lacking”, where “violence has been strongly felt in its recent history” and where “not a few Salvadorans had to leave their land in search of a better future”.

Focusing then on the figure of the new saint, who “knew how to embody to perfection the image of the Good Shepherd who offers his life for his sheep”, the Pope invited the bishops to find in him - “even more now with his canonization” - an “example” and an “impetus”: an example of “a predilection for those most in need of God’s mercy”; a stimulus “to bear witness to the love of Christ and the concern of the Church, knowing how to coordinate the action of each of its members and collaborating with the other particular Churches with fervent collegial affection”. “May the holy bishop Romero help you to be signs of this unity in the diversity that characterizes the holy people of God”, was the Pontiff’s wish.

An invitation also went to priests and religious to “live a Christian commitment inspired by the style of the new saint”, being “worthy of his teachings” and becoming “servants of the priestly people”. “Saint Oscar Romero saw the priest placed in the middle of two great abysses: that of the infinite mercy of God and that of the infinite misery of men and women”, Francis emphasized when quoting the homily of the saint during his priestly ordination on 10 December 1977. “Work tirelessly to channel that infinite desire of God to forgive men and women who repent of their misery and to open the hearts of their brothers and sisters to the tenderness of God’s love, also through the prophetic denunciation of the evils of the world”.

Finally, greeting the many pilgrims who came to Rome yesterday morning for the canonization in St. Peter’s Square, from El Salvador but also from other Latin American countries, Pope Bergoglio recalled that “the message of St. Oscar Romero is addressed to all, without exception”. And in this message, there is the appeal, strongly repeated by the archbishop, “that every Catholic must be a martyr, because martyr means witness, that is, witness to the message of God to people”. “God - added the Pope - wants to be present in our lives and calls us to proclaim His message of freedom to all humanity. Only in Him can we be free: free from sin, evil, hatred in our hearts, free to love and welcome the Lord and our brothers and sisters. A true freedom already on earth, which passes through our concern to awaken in every heart the hope of salvation”.

“We know well that this is not easy”, the Pope admitted, for this reason prayer is necessary and it is necessary above all “to remain united to God and in communion with the Church”, because, as Saint Oscar said, “without God, and without the ministry of the Church” it is not possible to survive persecution.

At the end of his speech, the Pope expressed gratitude to the “holy People of God who are pilgrims in El Salvador” and who “ today vibrate for the joy of seeing one of their children at the honors of the altars”. “The people - he added - loved Monsignor Romero and do you know why? Because the people of God can recognize holiness. Here, among you, there are so many people I should thank, to all the people who accompanied him, who followed him”.

But not being able to thank one by one the whole “pueblo”, the Pope chose as its representative “a person very close to Romero, Angelita Morales”, the woman who lived with him the last eight years of his life, until the morning of his assassination. “In her there is the synthesis of all the people of God”, Bergoglio affirmed, bringing Angelita on stage who brought him a shirt that belonged to the saint as a gift.

Hence the Pope joked as he said goodbye to the audience: “Did you pay to enter here?”. To a chorus “no”, Pope Francis said: “Now you have to pay and the price is that you pray for me”

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 13:20
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