Central American Jesuit to deliver 2016 Romero Lecture
The Director of the Monseñor Romero Centre at the UCA, the Jesuit University in El Salvador, will be the guest of the Archbishop Romero Trust in Britain and other Justice and Peace organisations from 31 October until 5 November 2016, and will deliver the Romero Lecture at five venues in Scotland and England, including two Jesuit parishes. The lecture will be entitled ‘Rutilio, Romero and Pope Francis’.
Central American Jesuit, Fr Rodolfo Cardenal SJ is a surviving colleague of the six Jesuit martyrs killed on the UCA campus in 1989 at the height of El Salvador’s civil war. He is a historian and has written the biography of his Jesuit confrére, Fr Rutilio Grande SJ, assassinated in March 1977. Fr Rutilio was a friend of Blessed Oscar Romero and is now on the road to beatification himself.
Fr Rodolfo has chaired the History Commission which documented Rutilio Grande’s story for the beatification cause. He will speak about Fr Rutilio and the impact his martyrdom had on Archbishop Oscar Romero. An estimated 250,000 people attended the beatification of Romero in San Salvador on 23 May 2015. The centenary of his birth will be celebrated next year on 15 August.
A major motivation towards activism
Fr Rutilio Grande SJ (pictured right) knew Oscar Romero from their preacher training. He was ordained a priest in 1959, and went on to study abroad before returning in 1965 to El Salvador where he spoke out against the government. On 13 February 1977, Grande preached a sermon that came to be called ‘the Apopa sermon’, in which he denounced the government's expulsion of Father Mario Bernal Londono, a Colombian priest who had been serving in El Salvador. Fr Bernal had been kidnapped — allegedly by guerrillas — in front of the Apopa church near San Salvador, and was subsequently deported by the Salvadoran government. It is believed by many that Fr Grande’s ‘Apopa sermon’ provoked his murder the following month.
Upon learning of the murder of Fr Rutilio, along with an elderly man named Manuel Solorzano and 16-year-old Nelson Lemus, Archbishop Romero went to the church where the three bodies had been laid and celebrated Mass. He then spent hours listening to stories of suffering local peasant farmers, and hours in prayer. Grande's death becomes a major motivation in Romero's shift towards an activist role within the church and the nation.
Fr Rodolfo Cardenal SJ will deliver the 2016 Romero Lecture, ‘Rutilio, Romero and Pope Francis’ at the following venues:
Plymouth Cathedral (Monday 31 October at 7.00pm),
Amigo Hall, Southwark, London (Tuesday 1 November at 4.00pm)
The Department of Theology & Religion, University of Durham (Wednesday 2 November at 5.30pm)
St Aloysius College, Glasgow (Thursday 3 November at 7.00pm) and
St Wilfrid’s Church, Preston (Friday 4 November at 7.00pm).
The talks have been organised in association with CAFOD, Sciaf, Pax Christi, the Justice & Peace Commissions in Plymouth, Lancaster and Liverpool, the Centre for Environmental & Social Justice (Glasgow) and the Centre for Catholic Studies (Durham).