Saturday, 19 March 2011

Archbishop Romero: two diary entries

It is rather intriguing to see the connection being made between Archbishop Romero and the participation of Christians in the "March for the Alternative" on 26th March. There is a report of this here. It would be interesting to know whether Archbishop Romero would have made such a direct connection between his mission in the life of El Salvador and such a specific political protest.

It prompted me to look in his diary for an entry for 19th March, to go with my feast day today. This is part of the entry for Monday, March 19-Friday, March 23 1979; it refers to Archbishop Romero's participation in a seminar in the Dominican Republic on the subject of devotion to the Sacred Heart:
We studied how to make this devotion attractive to the people of today - this devotion that undoubtedly continues to be important, but that, perhaps because of not having been brought up to date sufficiently, is considered by some to be antiquated. Nevertheless, enlightened by our reflections, we understood that it needs to regain the attention that it deserves. For this reason, those of us attending from Central America decided to organise a small committtee which, working with the international centre, will look for ways to carry out the ideal renewal of the worship of the Sacred Heart in our countries.

I had the honour of being named president of the small Central American group. I accepted with pleasure because it has always been my preferred devotion and because I know that devotion to the Sacred Heart could be very fruitful for the pastoral work of our diocese.
The entry for 19th March 1980, just days before Archbishop Romero's death, includes the celebration of two feast day Masses and whirlwind of different pastoral and adminstrative meetings. Two particular paragraphs indicate Archbishop Romero's view of politicization among the priests of his diocese. The Archibishop's concerns need to be understood against the background of his own contribution to the political arena in his country, in denouncing atrocities and speaking against all violence.
I went to the chancery for a while. There were a large number of visits, the most significant one from Fathers Toruella and Mejia, who came to share with me some ideas from a group of priests who are concerned about the politicization of some of the priests. They invited me to a reflection so that we may have a dialogue among the different sectors of the clergy and, if possible, an inquiry in order to neutralize anything which might divide us as priests....

At four o'clock in the afternoon we had a meeting with the council or committee for humanitarian aid, an ecumenical committee of which Caritas is part. It was to discuss a problem that has arisen in the refugee centres. What is happening is that the agents of the popular political organizations are using these people for their political activities. We have tried to make it clear that a refugee centre should not be a headquarters for their operations. There was a great deal of discussion. I always have the impression of extreme politicization in the declarations made by Father Rogelio and Father Tilo Sanchez, as well as by others who participated in the meeting. But I was also very glad to see the very balanced position of some of the priests and some of the members of the Protestant Churches who collaborate with us in this ecumenical work. The manager of Caritas, Miss Carmen, was also very prudent in her orientation.

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