The Salvadoran cardinal remembered in the bad books of his episcopacy, Romero

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (CNS) – In a candid account of his five years in the Salvadoran church, the country’s first cardinal addressed the allegations against St. Oscar Romero of El Salvador, but he was humiliated by other priests, including a Bishop. who said, in notes to a Vatican representative, that he had “no intention of giving me a diocese.”

Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez has found a purpose after giving up his 52 years as part of the Catholic priesthood, but if there’s one thing he says he’s learned during that time, it’s “God writes straight in crooked lines,” as an old Spanish saying goes. That may be the title of a long interview turned into a book by Roman father Ariel Beramendi, a Bolivian priest who works in Spanish-language communications at the Vatican. He translated some questions and answers written by the cardinal into the Spanish language “Conversations with Cardinal Rosa Chávez” published in El Salvador at the end of November, available through Kindle in the US.

In it, there is a wide, nonchronological overview of the life of the Salvadoran cardinal, now 80 and retired after 40 years as auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, and his brush with the martyrs of the country: St. Oscar Romero, with what he did. , and the promoted Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande. It was a period of incitement to violence and persecution of members of the Catholic Church who stood up for the poor and against injustice.

He described his first-row seat until the evening of the “red martyrdom,” on March 24, 1980, when St. the church.

“I saw Archbishop Romero on a bed in his priestly robes, lifeless, a calm face…when I went out into the streets, I heard celebratory firecrackers in the rich areas of the city, and I heard later that someone said ‘In the end. , they killed the communist,'” he said.

Against that drama, the cardinal almost hid his bad feelings in the waters of the church, including a Spaniard who ascended in 1995 to the post of Salvadoran Archbishop of St. Romero lived there.

“You are adults. You have your own opinion. Don’t be physical. Get out of the church,” said the cardinal said Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle in one of his first talks with the press after he was installed as the archbishop of San Salvador in 1995 .

The cardinal’s answers, direct but gentle, point to the lack of hope, not to hold back the anger for what surrounds him: the war, the attack on the thought, deception. He said he was grateful for the death of St.

When Archbishop Lacalle, who died earlier this year, announced that he would leave his residence, a room in the Archbishop’s house, and appoint him to be pastor of a church outside of the capital San Salvador – although it is San Salvador. auxiliary bishop – the cardinal sees the opportunity as a blessing. It allowed him to be closer to the poor, he said, but he also said that other brothers saw the move as punishment and “relegation.”

From that parish, where he lives, he told the Catholic News Service in an interview on December 16 that he decided to join Father Beramendi because of “the great concern that I did not write to anyone something in my knowledge as a bishop.” He said he believed his story was on the record because there was confusion and an attempt to erase and give a different version of what happened at such an important time in the life of the Church. Catholicism in El Salvador.

“I want to get out there for the record,” said Cardinal Rosa Chavez, who studied communications at the University of Louvain in Belgium and, for decades, led weekly communications in the archdiocese. He said he wanted a clear story about what happened to the St. with the immediate successor of St. Romero, Archbishop Arturo Rivera Damas.

The book brings out the chaos in the church, which reflects the Salvadoran society, and the political polarization, which entered the school. He also reveals his humble upbringing as the son of a merchant, whose dream of becoming a priest he fulfilled through his son.

He also mentioned that he received a letter, while looking at documents before the visit of St.

“He received me very well,” when they met each other in Rome, he said, “I did not think I had read his letter. I think he did it sincerely because he he saw me as a terrible bishop, a traitor, unfit to lead a diocese.

But the book is rooted in the experience the cardinal had of St. Romero, those who encouraged him and remained faithful to him and his prophethood and those in the church dismissed the saint as a communist.

“For 20 years, Rome has been misunderstood about Romero,” with some of the Salvadoran government not having anything good to say about him, the cardinal said.

He said that he is happy with the book, because it is based on paper material that needs to be clear, but hopes to do something deeper.

“This is a recipe,” he said.