A ceremony to beatify Archbishop Oscar Romero happens today in San Salvador. I never thought I would see this in my lifetime. Romero is still a divisive figure in many circles, even 35 years after his martyrdom. He is not universally beloved, like Mother Theresa. You wouldn't think that his fierce commitment to the poor would win him enemies, but he combined politics and spirituality in a way that still repels many.
Beatification is a step towards sainthood. A verifiable miracle is required for beatification. For canonization (sainthood), a second miracle must be verified. At every step of the way, every aspect of the candidate's life is supposed to be analyzed.
Romero left us much to analyze, with his daily radio addresses, his sermons, his letters. I wonder if in future years, candidates for sainthood will have their Twitter feeds analyzed, their blog posts, their Facebook posts. We lead such public lives, most of us, these days.
I know that I return to the life of Romero with some regularity on this blog. He has been one of my spiritual touchstones since my college years in the 1980's. Those days are beginning to seem very far away. I remember President Reagan warning us of the possibility of Communists swarming over the border into Texas, if El Salvador fell. I remember thinking that the Texans could take care of them with little effort. We probably wouldn't even have to send extra weapons.
I remember meeting refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Long before I knew as much about Romero as I do now, I knew that he was right about the horrors endured by the poor caught in the crossfire in those countries.
Unfortunately, they're still in the crossfire. El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates of all countries. In his article in The New Yorker which looks at the life of Romero and the history of Central America, Carlos Dada concludes, "Due to criminal violence, mostly related to gangs and drug cartels, El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates on the planet. Poverty, one of the structural problems so frequently pointed to by Romero, has decreased only because a third of Salvadorans have left El Salvador, and many of them send money back. Corruption has been rampant under both rightists and leftists. It’s a good time, it seems, to reread the teachings of the now celebrated Archbishop."
Today is also a good day to pray for those caught in the crossfires of policies gone terribly wrong. It's a good day to pray for leaders across the spectrum who must decide how to respond. It's a good day to pray for the poor and the dispossessed.
Sadly, it seems that every day is a good day for those prayers.
feeling the feelings…
2 months ago