The Clash of Transcendence and History

The Conversion of Óscar Arnulfo Romero (Part – I)

  • David B Perrin St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, Canada
Keywords: Oscar Romero, El Salvador, Mystic, Martyr, Saint, Transcendence and History

Abstract

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1917–1980), a Salvadoran bishop, lived during a time of great political and civil turbulence. The local Roman Catholic Church did regrettably little to quell the suffering of its people. Romero, in the earliest part of his episcopacy, and like the bishops around him, fell into this kind of complacency. Yet all of this was to shift radically for Romero as a result of events in 1977, when he changed from an introverted conservative to an outspoken champion of his people. This article is a theological analysis, one of many possible analyses, of how such a change, such a conversion, can be framed within the tradition of Christian spirituality: in the clash of transcendence and history, that is, an understanding that God meets God’s people in the events of their lives – even in tragic events, as witnessed in the people of El Salvador – is conversion wrought. What is special about Romero’s conversion in the clash of transcendence and history, as suggested by this article, is its similarity to the lives of those whom the Church has come to know as mystics. Romero, in the end, gave his all to become the very face of God for his own people, for the people of Latin America, and now for the whole world. The sign of a mystic, martyr, and saint indeed.

References

Brockman, James R. (1982) The Word Remains: A Life of Óscar Romero, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Brockman, James R. (1999) Romero: A Life, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, p.4.

Brockman, James R. (ed and trans), (2004) Óscar Romero: The Violence of Love, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, p.125.

Clarke, Kevin (2014) Óscar Romero: Love Must Win Out, Toronto: Novalis.

della Rocca, Morozzo (1980) Primero Dios, quoting De Grazia Gaspari in Il Manifesto cited in Margaret R. Pfeil, “Óscar Romero’s Theology of Transfiguration,” in Pelton, Archbishop Romero and Spiritual Leadership in the Modern World, p.72.

Dennis, Marie, Renny Golden, and Scott Wright (2000) Óscar Romero: Reflections on His Life and Writings, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, p.8.

Francis, Pope (2015) Address via video message to the Second International Congress of Theology in Buenos Aires, Vatican City, September 4, (Vatican Information Services).

Peace Agreement (1992) http://www.usip.org/publications/peaceagreements-el-salvador. Accessed September 17, 2015.

Pelton, Robert S. (ed), (2015) Archbishop Romero and Spiritual Leadership in the Modern World, New York: Lexington Books.

Pelton, Robert S., Robert Ball and Kyle Markham (ed), (2004) Monsignor Romero: A Bishop for the Third Millennium, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, p.117.

Romero, Óscar (1977) “The Church, The Body of Christ in History,” Second Pastoral Letter, http://www.romerotrust.org.uk/documents/pastoral%20letter/second%20pastoral%20letter.pdf. Accessed September 17, 2015.

United Nations website: http://www.csusmhistory.org/atkin008/plea-to-carter-response-from-reagan. Accessed September 13, 2015.

Published
2015-12-31