Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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?


  1. “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.”

    I was just reading this passage in John the other day and often would find myself contemplating on its meaning. That it is brought up here today and in the context that it is gives more reason to contemplate on its meaning.

    The synchronisity of a bullet hitting Romero's heart and the letter drawn by JPII on the same day, and of the reading for that day, are more reason to contemplate on the meaning.

    More and more I hear negative chatter about the Church that Romero represented, of love for the poor and for social justice.

    A terrible evil has gone into the heart of the Church itself and is a cancer. The cancer part is destroying all that is healthy of the Church.

    Since the Church that JPII and Benedict represent has to do with law and order, the subjection of flesh and not love and Jesus and the spirit of truth and grace, it cannot feel its own cancer growing, nor know how to heal itself, nor know how to live or die with grace.

    I have no doubt which Church might actually be closer to the Kingdom.

  2. Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated by elements very clearly linked with Opus Dei. There is no point in one denying or remaining oblivious to this now. It was a "Right-Wing Death Squad".

    The fact that JPII had approved an order to remove him from office - knowing that he himself was literally surrounded by Opus Dei personnel in his inner circle makes the obvious even more obvious.

    But WHY was Romero 'made dead'? Merely for espousing the true Gospel & wanting genuine justice for the poor & oppressed? Yes...but much more then that....

    For Opus Dei & its many ancillaries & front organizations, Romero was not only a thorn in their sides, but he was a personal symbol of betrayal.

    You see.....prior to being named Archbishop of his See, Romero was very close to & very favorable of....Opus Dei. He had formerly espoused it & its teaching & ways. And was favorable toward Escriva.

    But once he took command of his See, Christ opened Romero's eyes. He saw & was converted. He saw what the Right-Wing/Conservative secular & clerical establishment was doing to the poor ppl....'in the Name of God'.

    He was converted to Christ - to comprehending & integrating & LIVING the Gospel. Thus he could no longer support the 'sinful structures' which hurt & oppressed the poor.

    Thus Opus Dei & the various cooperator elements linked to them could not tolerate merely removing him from office. He had to be 'punished'. An example had to be made of him.

    Because for such a thing as Opus Dei - which is completely opposed to Christ & the Gospel (while pretending to be otherwise....)....Betrayal = death.

    It is that simple.

    Et tu, John Paul 1st?

  3. Anonymous, then Opus Dei is a cancer and it will die of its own cancer and be raised to the resurrection of condemnation.

  4. Butterfly: Indeed.

    "...for you are the sons of they that killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your forefathers. Upon you shall fall all the just blood spilled upon the earth..."

    When Romero was shot He was elevating the Chalice containing the consecrated wine. The Precious Blood of the Sinless One was spilled over the altar & Romero's corpse.

    You cannot invent symbolism like this: this was God speaking.

    But Christ continues against 'them' in Matthew 23: "...not one stone shall be left upon another. Behold: your house shall be left to you, desolate...".

    And elsewhere in the Gospel: "...but Lord, did we not prophecy in your Name....and He shall reply: 'I do not know you'...."

    They shall have their reward.

  5. Episcopalians (especially those who pray the Daily Office) are observing the feast day today of St. Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador. It's more than a nice "ecumenical gesture", as Oscar Romero has been hugely influential in the development of social justice ministries in the Anglican communion, especially here in the Americas.

    Perhaps a coincidence (?), but many are also upset with last week's attempted assassination of Episcopal Bishop of El Salvador, Martin Barahona.


  6. "You cannot invent symbolism like this: this was God speaking."

    "Perhaps a coincidence (?), but many are also upset with last week's attempted assassination of Episcopal Bishop of El Salvador, Martin Barahona."

    Coincidences? I don't think so. The messages are too loud and clear. JPII has much to answer for and the death of Oscar Romero is one such event. His intent, if it was known amongst Romero's clerical enemies, could very well have been the causal agent which pulled the trigger.

    Maybe that's why the Anglican Church has recognized his sainthood and Catholicism is stone walling. More freaking dark secrets hidden in Vatican closets.

  7. He'll be considered for sainthood ONLY after every decrepit, right-wing pope that has ever lived has been cannonnnized!

    What a flippin' farce this sainthood schtik has become.

    Jim McCrea

  8. Reading this post, I wonder... how long till Jesus too must be separated from controversy?

  9. Yea, not that anyone has ever used Jesus in a political cause.

  10. Those that follow the Jesus of Matthew's Sermon on the mount are frequently crucified in the blood of Christ. The Beatitudes were a radical message but even more so the idea of turning the other cheek and loving you enemies. Seems that the those in Rome hunger and thirst for justice as they see it in their own time, but pay little head to those whom they should serve. They are blinded by their own omniscience and some even think that if they try hard enough they can have so much influence as to be omnipotent. All in their own temporal window! Can we say that they are Christians?

    The real saints of my time are Oscar Romarro, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, John XXIII an maybe even Bobby Kennedy. There are two more who still live:* The Dali Lama and Desmund TuTU. Any of these people (Heaven Forbid!) could and may be martyred for his spirituality. These are the men that follow the non violent path of Jesus, not the one issue enablers that lead the RCC. Certainly not these last two Popes who are in denial of who Jesus is and what he meant. They may be Roman Catholic but for sure, they are not very Christian.

    *Actually there are many more men and women, who are martyred frequently. I am thinking of the recent nuns asked not to receive communion and the theologian’s whose depth and width could not be fathomed by Ratzinger and others. These people were martyred by Church authorities by attempting to kill off their minds and influence. Many of them are just held in higher regard by those who understand what as happened.

    May we gain grace by understanding and following the true holly women and men in society. dennis

  11. Even if you're not trying to be political... today it's controversy to follow Jesus!

    Suppose you're a woman and he calls you - to the priesthood. For just one example.

  12. AB Oscar Romero was clearly one who was born again, born of the spirit, as is witnessed by his former stance with Opus Dei, to a complete reversal of his former alliance with them.

    I'm pretty sure, with what I know is how the worldly and of the flesh only operate, that he was killed to set an "example" of what will happen if you do not politically align with the Pope's absolute dictates. To side with the poor and be in true alliance with Jesus has become a disgrace in the RCC is the message many hear now.

    I am thinking that the silence of many Bishops is due to their fear of being killed or otherwise vanquished. I believe there are still some good Bishops who see through this stuff or are beginning to, but are waiting it out until they can no longer hold out quietly for reasons of their own conscience being led by the Holy Spirit. I imagine there are a lot of Peters denying they are followers of Jesus, but not for long. I am hopeful that this is the case, that some Bishops are feeling just as bad about these revelations of cloak and dagger, mirrors and smokescreens from the Vatican for power and self-glorification as are many of us here.

    The Holy Spirit comes and goes where it will.

  13. ## Abp. Romero ministered to his people as a bishop ought to, & died as a bishop ought to - what's the problem ?

    Of course he's a Saint :)

    And once he's canonised, Rome can canonise Father Mychal Judge.

  14. Rat, I was thinking about Michael Judge as I wrote this article.