Vatican Decides El Salvador's Archbishop Romero Died For Jesus, Not Marx
Big Catholic news: Archbishop Oscar Romero just might be a saint, even if he was a liberal. A panel of theologians that considers cases for sainthood has determined that when Romero was murdered by a rightwing death squad in 1980, he was not just the victim of a political assassination, but also a martyr to the cause of Jesus and the faith. We guess the Vatican is no longer officially the same place where John Paul II warned against the threat of "liberation theology!" This bit of wrangling angels into an acceptable position on the head of a pin is a significant step toward Romero's possible canonization as a saint, which is a seriously weird process of theological bureaucracy.
And even though Yr Wonkette doesn't much care for Godbothering, we're pretty excited by this news. Romero was murdered for standing up for the poor of El Salvador, and that's martyrdom regardless of whether someone wants to attribute the miraculous cure of bunions to him 30 years later. Yr Editrix remembers that the Marxist nuns at her elementary school made sure the kids all knew who Romero was, and that kids also learned that rightwing Salvadoran Army major Roberto D'Aubisson was a murderous bastard, favorite of Ronald Reagan, and a graduate of the Pentagon's School of the Americas, the only school whose football fight song had redacted lyrics. The 1980s were an interesting time, is what we are getting at.
Religion News has this overview:
Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was shot dead by right-wing death squads while celebrating Mass in March 1980. His murder came a day after he delivered a homily calling for soldiers to lay down their guns and end government repression in the country’s bloody civil war.
Romero’s cause was started nearly two decades ago when St. John Paul II gave him the title of Servant of God in 1997. But his case never advanced amid lingering Vatican suspicion of Liberation Theology, an economically progressive approach to Catholicism that flourished under Romero and was suppressed by both John Paul and Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis reopened the process, and has met with bishops from El Salvador to discuss Romero's possible beatification and canonization; in the normal process, one miracle has to be attributed to the candidate before beatification, and a second miracle for canonization. But martyrs can go straight to beatification without a miracle, because everybody loves a martyr, and there is nothing weird about the idea of documenting miracles and carefully parsing whether Romero's assassination was primarily a crime against his politics or against his faith.
In summary: Religion is weird, the '80s are over, and we'd trade a bucket of Vatican theologians for more activist priests and nuns. Yes, there's still so much to dislike about the Catholic Church. But then there are people like Oscar Romero, who actually seemed to be paying attention to what Jesus said about the poor and justice, and who have an unnerving habit of being killed by despots. Funny, though -- we don't see anyone today proposing sainthood for Roberto D'Aubisson for his service in fighting communism.
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