Thursday 8 December 2016

Letters: Romero's death shows faith and politics are never separate

Published 04/09/2014 | 02:30

A nun plants a kiss on the forehead of assassinated Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980
A nun plants a kiss on the forehead of assassinated Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980

Pope Francis's decision to consider Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador for sainthood dilutes the influence of those right-wing voices in the Vatican who saw Mr Romero's radical siding with the poor, the marginalised, the tortured and the disappeared as more to do with politics than faith. Mr Romero was persistently critical of the ruthless military regime that was complicit in his murder. The people of San Salvador already see him as a saint.

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Mr Romero took seriously what he saw as the Christian calling to serve the poor and outcasts of society, intensifying awareness of their unjust oppression. A key influence on Romero was Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, particularly through his book, 'The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.'

Freire had shown that the education system, far from liberating the poor, confirmed them in their condition. The church served the state well in the inculcation of orthodoxy and resignation; the notion that God loved the poor was equated with the view that he loved poverty.

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