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Romero (1989) Viewing Guide
Due May 29Available on reserves in the library, free streaming on Amazon Prime
Using the biography available online, briefly describe who Oscar Romero was. Bio available on Canvas.
Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez or commonly known as Oscar Romero, was a priest in the Catholic Church of El Salvador. The church was a prominent name in the terms of religious activities and served as the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. He raised his voice against poverty, assassinations, social injustice, torture and inequality at a very crucial time when the war between leftist rebels, the government, and the right-wing forces were at a rise. He was assassinated in the chapel of Hospital of Divine Providence, on 24 March 1980, while he was celebrating Mass (Erdozain).
How does Romero think the church should engage with societal/political/economic problems, based on his first homily (sermon)?
Saint Oscar Romero was of the view that the church should engage in the societal, political and economic problems of the society on the basis of a Liberation Theological Approach. He did not keep the materialistic approach in consideration and believed in the equality of all. According to him, the society had divided the Church into two parts, the Church of Rich and the Church of the poor. Romero did not believe in any such division and only kept the concept of one church, that the Christ had preached.
What do you think was the event that caused the change in Romero’s theology/approach to theology and the church?
Oscar Romero was appointed as the Archbishop of San Salvador and raised his voice against the social injustice being carried on in the area. He was especially worried about the farmers or the peasants living along the banks of the lands and spoke frequently for them in various sermons. One of the major events that brought a great change in the life and the religious beliefs of the Archbishop was the murder of his close friend, Father Rutilio Grande, who was brutally murdered in Aguilars.
How would you compare the Oscar Romero at the beginning of the movie, versus the Oscar Romero at the end of the movie?
There is a lot of difference and change in the Oscar Romero at the beginning of the movie as compared to the Archbishop Saint Oscar Romero till the end of the movies. In the beginning, the priest has been shown to take the charge recently in the church and does not seem to have much know how about the world as well as the religious affairs. While moving towards the end of the movie, the young priest has moved towards being a much mature and learned man who has much stronger beliefs regarding religion and theology.
What themes from liberation theology, as described by Elizabeth Johnson, do you see present in the movie (refer to specific scenes)?
There are multiple scenes in the movie that depict the themes of the liberation theology, as per the description of the Elizabeth Johnson. The main lead of the movie, Raul Julia, can be seen at various instances sitting and sharing moments with the poor peasants of the village, in the character of Saint Oscar Romero. Moreover, the themes of Liberation Theology can also be seen clearly in the various speeches and sermons that the Archbishop delivers all over the movie and presents his views against poverty, torture, and social injustice.
What are the different ways the characters understand the gospel and its purpose?
All the characters in the movie understand and interpret the Gospel according to their own beliefs and understanding and preach the teachings further to their followers in the same manner. For example, the main lead, the priest Oscar Romero, takes it as a way to eliminate poverty and social injustice from society.
What scene/quote did you find the most poignant?
There are multiple scenes or quotes in the movie that have touched me and moved me deeply. Below, I am mentioning some of these:
Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.
I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest flows naturally.
Erdozain, Placido. Archbishop Romero: Martyr of Salvador. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1981.
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