In honor of Archbishop Oscar Romero I offer a couple of extracts from a longer NCR article. The first deals with the big problem with his canonization---He was an ecclesiastical leader whose sainthood might send the wrong political message about other ecclesiastical leaders. The second part of the extract touches on how Romero's influence might point out a way for the hierarchical church to survive it's current travails. That would not be in asserting it's dominion over the rest of us, but in actually standing beside us.
The cause for Romero’s canonization, begun 20 years ago and said to be picture perfect in meeting every criteria for holiness and orthodoxy, has hit a final bump in the road that could delay it indefinitely.
San Salvador’s Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas, just hours after celebrating a solemn Mass on the steps of the Metropolitan Cathedral, during which Romero was called both a martyr and a prophet, said: “With all respect we have asked and continue asking that the figure of Monseñor Romero not be a figure that is manipulated, politicized or used, but rather be a figure that is highly respected, precisely because of the process that is being carried out.”
To many here, the archbishop’s remarks amounted to another way of saying that in order to advance toward sainthood, the figure of Romero must somehow be separated from all controversy. The view constitutes a final criterion that highlights the complex debate over how Romero’s life and death might be interpreted as a turning point for both the church and for the future of El Salvador. (In other words, the canonization of Romero would be a counter example of the kind of ecclesiastical prioritization demonstrated by JPII and Pius XII and impact the canonization efforts of those two.)..................
Saying his last Mass on March 24, 1980, in the chapel at the hospital where he lived, Romero had just read the Gospel passage from John 12:23-23: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified …Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” Moments later he was shot through the heart by a sniper. (This also marks the day that JPII signed the letter which would have removed AB Romero from his Archdiocese. The powers that be were going to silence Romero one way or the other.)
The shocking nature of his death and the stunning implications of his example have made the question of canonization even more relevant for the universal church. In a global economy marked by what the bishops at Medellín, almost 40 years ago, called the “institutionalized violence” of poverty that remains the fate of billions, the question remains, does the church walk with the poor? (Depends by what one means by Church. Some members walk with the poor, others, like the Magesterium, seems to walk with lawyers--both secular and Canon.)
“That is what Romero did.” said Brackley, “inspiring countless others to collaborate with him. This will invite persecution and misunderstanding, but that is the fifth mark of the true church. Romero sought not what was best for the institution as such, but what was best for the people. In the long run, that is what is best for the church, too. The institution that strives to save itself will lose itself. If it loses itself in loving service, it will save itself.”
Archbishop Romero represents the type of bishop whose walk backed up his talk. He understood his mission to be 'one with his people' and not 'one over his people'. Like too many of his people, he died at the hands of an assassin. But had that not happened, he would have been silenced by the pen of a Pope who was also acting from a political agenda. In Romero's case, walking with the poor put him in the cross hairs of two agendas, both which were bent on preserving their power over others. It's probably no accident that both 'triggers' were pulled on the same day.
The Church represented by Oscar Romero is not going to go away, no matter how badly certain Vatican personalities act on that hope. Romero's Church is the one that understands Jesus said we (and by extension His Church) would be judged on how we treat the poor. In fact, this view of Church seems to be gaining steam, even if it's not well represented in official statistics.
On the other hand, Official Rome has opted to fixate on maintaining it's authority and dominion over the laity by asserting it's right to our bedrooms. Funny how it's imploding over sexual acts it can no longer keep in it's own clerical bedroom.
Do you suppose there's a message here about which view of the Church might actually be closer to the Kingdom?