4) Pastors with the gift of the word that reaches the heart.
It is evident that both Pope Francis and Archbishop Romero are distinguished by the gift of the word and by the art of the homily. In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, the Holy Father dedicates ample space to explain what the homily is and how preaching should be prepared. We read in n. 135: “The homily is the touchstone to assess the closeness and capacity of a pastor to meet his people.” But the Pope has not limited himself to giving us a teaching on the homily but himself shows himself to be an accomplished teacher in this difficult art. Millions of men and women are attentive every day to their reflection during the morning Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Archbishop Romero would feel very Archbishop Romero would feel very comfortable reading the reflection of Pope Francis on this question because he had come to the world to be the man of the word. His priesthood is marked by an indefatigable work as a preacher; this ministry had earned him great respect and popularity in different sectors of society. The poor and the simple listened to him with special veneration and affection, to which one he knew how to communicate the deepest truths with an accessible, attractive and full of anointing language.
But how does Archbishop Romero understand the homily and the prophetic ministry? “Homily means the simple sermon of the pastor who celebrates the word of God to tell those who are reflecting that this word of God is not an abstract, ethereal word, but it is a word that is incarnated in the reality in which that assembly lives that is meditating “(Homily of April 16, 1978). The preacher is a prophet: “Prophet means the one who speaks on behalf of another (...). Our care is in being faithful echo of that voice of Christ, the only one that must speak to the people and to the conscience” (Homily of January 14, 1979).
5) Pastors who dream of “a poor Church and for the poor”.
With Pope Francis we went from surprise to surprise in the first days of his pontificate. One of the magical moments was the Saturday after his election, when, in a meeting with several thousand journalists from all over the world, he let this vehement affirmative statement: “How I would like a poor Church and for the poor!” In it the session had counted with charming naturalness what the Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Humes told him when the votes of the cardinals designated him as the future Pope: “Do not forget the poor”.
Over the months, his statements were exceptionally brave and clear. In his apostolic exhortation he devotes the entire fourth chapter to broadly explaining “the social dimension of evangelization.” The chapter opens with a strong affirmation: “To evangelize is to make the Kingdom of God present in the world”. It is like a synthesis of the third part of the Aparecida document, in which it speaks of “the life of Christ for our peoples”.
Archbishop Romero was also an exemplary pastor in his commitment to the poor and in his fight against injustice. It is what is most often emphasized when citing thoughts taken from his homilies. In an anonymous publication sponsored by the government of the time, he had the audacity to call him Oscar “Marxnulfo” Romero. The allusion to Marx was a gross accusation that the pastor was a communist.
The examples of his commitment to the poor and to justice abound, but among his homilies, the most beautiful is perhaps that which he pronounced almost at the end of his ministry, when he commented, a month before his martyrdom, why he spoke of the national reality “If by necessity of the moment I am illuminating the politics of my country, it is like a pastor, it is from the Gospel, it is a light that has the obligation to illuminate the roads of the country and to contribute as Church the contribution that as Church has to give” (Homily of February 17, 1980).
6) Pastors with a deep love and admiration for Paul VI
Cardinal Bergoglio, at the last meeting of the cardinals prior to the conclave, had an intervention that, according to many, impacted so much his colleagues, who decided to give him the vote. The Argentine prelate began with these words: “Reference was made to evangelization. It is the reason for being of the Church. - “The sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Paul VI). - It is the same Jesus Christ who, from within, impels us. In the homily of beatification of Pope Montini, Francis gives thanks for this providential man: “Contemplating this great Pope, this committed Christian, this tireless apostle, before God today we cannot but say a word as simple as sincere and important: Thank you. Thanks to our beloved Pope Paul VI. Thank you for your humble and prophetic testimony of love for Christ and his Church.“
To know the deep appreciation of Archbishop Romero for Pope Paul VI we have an exceptional source: his Diary. There, our beloved pastor tells in detail his encounter with the Holy Father, who told him: “I understand your difficult work. It is a job that cannot be understood. He needs to have a lot of patience and a lot of strength ... Then he referred to the town ...
He told me that we had to help him, work for him, but never with hate, fomenting violence, but on the basis of great love”. The reaction of the Salvadoran bishop is moving: “I repeated to him that it was precisely the way I tried to preach, announcing love, calling for conversion. I told him that many times we had repeated his message of the Day of Peace: ‘No to violence, yes to peace’. I expressed my unwavering adherence to the Magisterium of the Church. And that in my denunciations of the violent situation in the country, I always called for conversion “(Su Diario, June 21, 1978).