Writing for The "Catholic" Free Press, official publication of the dissent-riddled Diocese of Worcester, Tony Magliano attempts to paint Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador, as a convert to, and friend of, "liberation theology."
But such is a lie. See here.
The liberation Romero preached was not a liberation from poverty. It was liberation from sin which was his mission - a mission which reflected the same warning issued by Pope Benedict XVI, who fought against liberation theology, when the Pontiff said: "If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart."
It was Saint Alphonsus de Liguori who said that, "The human heart is constantly seeking good things that will make it happy; but if it seeks them from creatures, it will never be satisfied, no matter how many it acquires. If it seeks God alone, God will satisfy all its desires. Who are the happiest people in this world, if not the saints? And why? Because they desire and seek only God."
Romero denounced many aspects of so-called liberation theology including the room it often made for violence to achieve its goals.
Romero saw the answer to structures of sin, institutionalized sin, in prudent education. He would have embraced the teaching of the Catechism wholeheartedly: "The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart." (CCC, 1784).
Oscar Romero insisted that, "The Church, like Jesus, has to go on denouncing sin in our own day. It has to denounce the selfishness that is hidden in everyone's heart, the sin that dehumanizes persons, destroys families, and turns money, possessions, profit, and power into the ultimate ends for which persons strive. And the church has also to denounce what has rightly been called 'structural sin:' those social, economic, cultural, and political structures that drive people onto the margins of society. When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to the misery from which the cry arises." (August 6, 1977.)
And: "To try to preach without referring to the history one preaches in is not to preach the gospel. Many would like a preaching so spiritualistic that it leaves sinners unbothered and does not term idolaters those who kneel before money and power. A preaching that says nothing of the sinful environment in which the gospel is reflected upon is not the gospel." (February 18, 1979)
Romero was not an advocate of the "Social Gospel." He firmly believed that the primary mission of the Church is to save souls, not solve the problem of poverty. But he came to realize that sin destroys not only our relationship with God but that it also undermines our relationships with family members, friends and others with whom we come into contact. Reconciliation refers to that precise effect of Christ's redemption of the human race by His sacrificial death on the Cross which restores our relationship with God and breaks down the barriers of sin which prevent us from engaging in authentic relationships with others.
In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one's brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance." (1435).
In other words, our transformation in Christ, our daily conversion, is made manifest by such gestures of reconciliation by which we demonstrate our commitment toward the theological virtue of charity "by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God" (CCC, 1822). We are told in Sacred Scripture that a faith without works is dead (James 2:14-19). An authentic reconciliation, therefore, will show itself in a charity which embraces both God and neighbor.
As Jean Jaouen so eloquently puts it, "..Christian compassion cannot be a cerebral, fleshless reality. It is completely impossible for one who loves people coldly to dissociate eternal salvation from the temporal well-being of a human person. A person is a whole. Time is eternity already begun yet still not completely visible. The conflict will be resolved if Christian apostles learn to live with their people while remaining present to the Lady who, with her Son, weeps over both the death of souls and the death of little children. 'Lady of heaven, empress of earth.' Through the Virgin Mediator and Queen, apostles will find a balance between the demands of heaven and those of earth." (Jean Jaouen, m.s., "A Grace Called La Salette: a story for the world," pp. 327-328, grassroots publishing international, Enfield, New Hampshire, English edition 1991).
Related reading: Tony Magliano's dishonesty. See here.