Romero is a true story about a Catholic priest named Oscar Romero who became Archbishop in El Salvador in the late 1970s. During his time as Archbishop, Romero was transformed from a neutral, “bookworm” into a political activist who worked for social justice. El Salvador during this time was politically instable, and corrupt.
Within the Church:
Archbishop Romero—the main character within the story
Father Rutilio Grande—his death triggers Romero’s transformation
Father Osuna, Father Morantes------------Both Osuna and Morantes are “lower level” priests who have connections to the rebels and sympathize with the poor and oppressed.
Higher level bishops—Many of these church leaders support the status quo—the wealthy, the elite—Some are neutral.
Within the State:
Lt. Columa—A composite character who represents the military
Minister of Agriculture Rafael Selada and his wife are both members of the wealthy elite. However, they are both somewhat sympathetic to the poor.
Selada’s wife’s father—Represents the aristocracy
The “common” girl—Represents the peasants, the poor.
Church vs. State—Who has more power, the Church or the State? Who has the authority? The President, the Military, the wealthy elite (with their secret police of off -duty police officers), or the Church? Who rules, who is truly in charge?
Conflict within the Church
Higher level bishops support the wealthy, support the government, and the elite.
Some want to be neutral—keep the church completely out of politics and social issues—just preach and minister.
Lower level priests want to help the poor. They say that the Church should not allow the suffering that is occurring…that Jesus would identify with the poor. They believe that their mission is not only to minister to the spiritual needs, but also the physical needs that people have. The lower-level priests are accused (in some cases accurately) as being sympathetic and in collusion with the Marxist Rebels.
Wealthy vs Poor—In summary, approximately 90% of wealth is controlled by 10% of the population. This means that there are VERY rich people, as well as people who literally live in garbage dumps. One of the issues deals with land reform (or agrarian reform)—the poor want the government to redistribute the wealth, to give the poor better opportunities. Some rebels have resorted to terrorism to accomplish these goals. Most of the poor simply are fighting for change. The elite are resistant to change, claiming that it is their right to be wealthy—that the strong survive (Social Darwinism)
Capitalism vs Communism
At this time, the U.S. was in the middle of the Cold War. The U.S. Government viewed the rebels and their sympathizers as Communists, and supported the military and the regime in power because they didn’t want Communism to spread. They also supported the wealthy and elite for economics reasons. This support by the U.S. Government allowed the injustices that occurred in El Salvador at this time.