By Matters India Reporter
Pune, October 8, 2019: ‘Saint Romero and Pope Francis: Revolutionaries of Tender Love’ is the latest book of Francis Gonsalves, Gujarat Jesuit priest, theologian, journalist and social activist. Formerly Principal of Vidyajyoti College, Delhi, and now Dean of Theology, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, Gonsalves is also the National Executive Secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India’s Commission for Theology and Doctrine.
“Martyred-Archbishop Oscar Romero has been one of my ‘religious heroes’ ever since I heard about him as a junior-Jesuit. I admired this Salvadoran ‘good shepherd’—madly in love with the Good Shepherd, Jesus, and deeply sensitive to his people, especially the poorest of poor. I felt that if all religious, priests and bishops emulated his example, we would have an ideal church….. Later, in 2013, when Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio became ‘Pope Francis’ I was delighted that he was a ‘poor, people’s pope’ who radiated the love of Christ to me/us like no leader before him,” Gonsalves told Matters India.
“I immediately saw a close link between the lives of Romero and Jorge Mario Bergoglio—both, Latin Americans from the ‘global south’: Christlike and people-oriented, spiritual/mystical, yet practical and down-to-earth, concerned not only about Christians but about all people and even mother earth. I felt that these were bishops who were ‘radical’ and ‘rooted’ [not ‘liberal’ as their critics allege]—calling the whole Church and world, at large, to renewal and change,” the author said.
“Providing personal snippets and real-life anecdotes, the book focuses on the call of Pope Francis to each and every human being to be a ‘revolutionary of tender love’. A similar call for ‘violence of love’ was echoed by martyr-archbishop Romero in the late 1970s which, in his words [quote] ‘left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and cruel inequalities among us…. The violence that will beat weapons into sickles for work’. [end-of-quote]”, Gonsalves said.
“The book stresses that both, Saint Romero and Pope Francis clearly challenge Christians to reread the gospels, and to tap the treasures of tradition. Both are consonant with the call of our ‘first pope’, Peter, (see Mt 16;13-19 and Jn 21:15-19) who through his own denials, darkness, death of his ego, rebirth and renewal in the Risen-Christ, draws up for Christians of every age a 3-point programme which I summarize as C-I-M, referring to Community/Church, Identity, Mission!”, the Jesuit priest said.
“In 2014, during midterm break, while teaching a course on Pope Francis at Santa Clara University, California, I made an eight-day yatra in El Salvador as guest of Jesuit theologian, Jon Sobrino, partaking of the death anniversary celebrations of Romero (March 24). What I saw, heard and experienced moved me so deeply that I decided to record this extraordinary martyrial life. I also visited the sites where Jesuit intellectuals were gunned down by US-backed Rightwing extremists on November 16, 1989. I felt that this is going to be the future of us, all, in India,” Gonsalves said.
“Being a Gujarat Jesuit working with persecuted Adivasi communities in south Gujarat, I feel that what happened in El Salvador in the 1970s-80s is happening in India, especially after 2014. The institutionalized ‘rich’ Indian Church is called for a ‘revolution of tender love’—self-emptying,” he added.
The Foreword is written by Very Rev. Fr Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus. “In the light of the lives and leadership of Saint Romero and Pope Francis, the book challenges all Christians to ask three questions: Who am I for Christ and Who is Christ for me? What community/church does Jesus seek to build with my help? What is my God-given mission?”
Priced at Rs. 200/=, the book has been published by Pauline Sisters, 143, Waterfield Road, Bandra, Mumbai – 400050. Email: email@example.com Also available online at paulineindia.org and Amazon