Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Rome 'misinformed' about Oscar Romero, says cardinal

 El Salvador: Romero-Wegbegleiter und Kardinal Rosa Chávez wird 80 -  Blickpunkt Lateinamerika

In a recent book, focusing on his five decades in the Salvadoran Church, the country’s first cardinal, Gregorio Rosa Chávez, who was a collaborator with St Oscar Romero, tells of misinformation against Romero and against himself.

He reports one bishop who said in notes to a Vatican ambassador, not even to think of giving Chavez a diocese. He says that for 20 years, “Rome was misinformed on the matter of Romero”.

Conversations with Cardinal Rosa Chávez records interviews turned into a book, in Spanish, by Fr Ariel Beramendi, a Bolivian priest who works on Spanish-language communications at the Vatican.

Salvadoran Cardinal Rosa Chávez, 80, who was auxiliary bishop of San Salvador and who retired last October, said he believed his account should be on the record.

He says there is confusion and even attempts at erasing or offering a different version of what happened when it came to Romero’s conversion, his assassination and that of Fr Rutilio Grande, and the role of the Catholic Church in El Salvador’s peace accords, whose meetings Chávez attended.

Cardinal Rosa Chávez described the last four decades as a time of persecution against members of the Catholic Church who stood up for the poor and against injustice. 

He described the evening of the “red martyrdom” on 24 March 1980, when Romero was assassinated, and the saint’s “white martyrdom”, a campaign of calumny against him from inside the Church.

He recalled that after Romero’s killing, “I saw Archbishop Romero on a stretcher with his purple priestly vestments, lifeless, a serene face, but when I went out into the streets, I heard celebratory fireworks in the affluent parts of the city.”

Julian Filochowski, co-chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, told The Tablet: “In the difficult civil war context, as auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, Mgr Rosa Chávez played a prominent role in propagating Archbishop Romero’s teaching on human rights and social justice when it was being side-lined.

“Whilst various episcopal colleagues and successive papal nuncios wanted to minimise Romero’s killing, he worked hard to ensure Romero’s assassination was recognised in the Salvadoran Church, and far beyond, as true martyrdom.”  

Clare Dixon, Cafod’s head of Latin America region, said: “For more than four decades Gregorio Rosa Chávez did his utmost to ensure that the legacy of Archbishop Romero should not be erased.

“This earned him the contempt of conservative sectors of the Church but won him respect and acclaim amongst the Christian communities who venerated Romero.

“His courage, faithfulness and witness to Romero were celebrated by the Church throughout Latin America where he was repeatedly elected to represent the region as President of Caritas. Pope Francis recognised and rewarded his persistent championing of Romero when he created Rosa Chavez as Cardinal in 2017.”

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