Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero
(Photo courtesy of the Archbishop Romero Trust)
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980) was a prominent Roman Catholic priest in El Salvador during the 1960s and 1970s becoming Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, he began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of repression. This led to numerous conflicts, both with the government in El Salvador and within the Catholic Church. After speaking out against U.S. military support for the government of El Salvador, and calling for soldiers to disobey orders to fire on innocent civilians, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass at the small chapel of the cancer hospital where he lived. It is believed that those who organised his assassination were members of Salvadoran death squads, including two graduates of the School of the Americas.
Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P. (born 8 June 1928 in Lima) is a Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest regarded as one of the principal founders of liberation theology in Latin America. He holds the John Cardinal O’Hara Professorship of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He has been professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a visiting professor at many major universities in North America and Europe. He is a member of the Peruvian Academy of Language, and in 1993 he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for his tireless work. He has also published in and been a member of the board of directors of the international journal, Concilium.
The church has not formally embraced the progressive movement, but Gustavo Gutiérrez’s upcoming visit another sign of rehabilitation under Pope Francis
Monday 11 May 2015 11.50 EDT
But since his election as pontiff in 2013, Pope Francis’s insistence that the church be “for the poor”, and his pointed criticisms of capitalism and consumerism have gone a long way to rehabilitate the liberation theology movement and incorporate it within the church. Experts point, too, to Francis’s decision to name Oscar Romero, the iconic Salvadoran archbishop who was assassinated by rightwing death squads in 1980, as a martyr as another sign of the resurgence in liberation theology.
By John Dear SJ
Created Nov 08, 2011 by John Dear SJ
“I hope my life tries to give testimony to the message of the Gospel, above all that God loves the world and loves those
who are poorest within it.”
That’s the recent summation of his life by 83-year-old Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, founder of liberation theology and its central tenet, “the preferential option for the poor.”
In his introduction, Groody reviews Gutierrez’s three bottom-line principles about life and death at the bottom.
First, material poverty is never good but an evil to be opposed. “It is not simply an occasion for charity but a degrading force that denigrates human dignity and ought to be opposed and rejected.”
Second, poverty is not a result of fate or laziness, but is due to structural injustices that privilege some while marginalizing others. “Poverty is not inevitable; collectively the poor can organize and facilitate social change.”
Third, poverty is a complex reality and is not limited to its economic dimension. To be poor is to be insignificant. Poverty means an early and unjust death.
Recognizing the pressing need for social justice, Liberation Theology was minted by Pope John XXIII to challenge the Church to defend the oppressed and the poor. Since its emergence, Liberation Theology has consistently mixed politics and religion. Its adherents have often been active in labor unions and left-wing political parties. Followers of Liberation Theology take inspiration from fallen martyrs like Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and Dorothy Mae Stang, an American-born nun who was murdered by ranching interests in Brazil.