Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Oscar Romero.

Author:Deaver, William O., Jr.
Position:LATIN AMERICA - Book review

Lee, Michael E. Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Oscar Romero. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2018.

This book should appeal to general readers or specialists who want a deeper understanding of Archbishop Romero's importance as a priest, social activist, and candidate for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Michael Lee, an associate professor of theology at Fordham University, has written two books on Ignacio Ellacuria, a proponent of liberation theology. This background gives him the cultural and academic credentials to seriously study the legacy of Romero within El Salvador, the world, and the Catholic Church. Lee deftly conveys the pertinent ideas regarding Romero's ecclesiastical endeavors by portraying the Neo-Scholastic formation of the priest juxtaposed with his subsequent conversion to a new vision of his role in serving God and his congregation. Drawing on his profound knowledge of Catholic criteria and procedures, Lee also makes the case that Romero should be canonized as a martyr, but at the same time, he questions the idea that Romero was a liberation theologist.

In the introduction, Lee "proposes three themes about which Christian thinking 'after Romero' is changed: conversion, discipleship, and martyrdom" (p. xxii). The first of the five chapters in the book deals with Romero's training in traditional Church theology in which a duality occurred with "a church that ruled the soul and a state that ruled the body" (p. 9). This division began to change after Vatican II (1962-1965), the Latin American Bishops' Conference in Medellin (1968), and the efforts of Catholic Action, which sought to adopt a practice of see-judge-act that Romero adhered to later in his life. This meant that priests needed to see the reality of their congregations, judge what to do based on scriptures, and act through pastoral projects to improve the lives of their parishioners. Lee points out that this is one of many liberation theologies because no standards exist to accurately define liberation theology as one unified movement.

Lee posits that Romero underwent conversion just eighteen days after his installation as archbishop, when his friend Father Rutilio Grande was assassinated. Romero proclaimed that only one Mass would be celebrated and that he would not attend official government ceremonies until Grande's murder and those of his companions were investigated satisfactorily. Lee concludes that this led to Romero's break with orthodoxy, since...

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