17 February 2013

On Suffering to Speak the Truth

Óscar Romero was the fourth bishop of San Salvador, El Salvador.  He led the church there during a turbulent time.  Progressives bemoaned his appointment in 1977, as his conservative reputation did not align with priests openly favoring Marxism.  But Romero’s weltanschauung became shaped by the estrangement of secular governments to the faith.  Moreover, when the Revolutionary Government right wing junta came to power in 1979, Archbishop Romero dared to speak up against human rights abuses, poverty, social injustice, torture and assassinations.

Divine Provence Chapel after Romero's assasination
Archbishop Romero was assassinated as he elevated the chalice of Divine Blood while celebrating Mass at “La Divina Provincia" Chapel in San Salvador on March 24th, 1980.  Monsenior Romero was fatally shot one day after he urged Salvadoran soldiers to be Christians and stop carrying out the government’s agenda of repression and basic human rights. 

{Actual audio of Archbishop Romero's assassination 03/24/1980}

At the martyred prelate’s funeral, the representative of the Holy See Mexico City Archbishop Ernesto Cardinal Corripio y Ahumada eulogized Romero as “a beloved, peacemaking man of God” and that “his blood will give fruit to brotherhood, peace and hope.”  Alas, these words were uttered as the crowd of 250,000 mourners were pelted with smoke bombs and were shot at by rifles from rooftops, with between 30 and 50 fatalities. 

In La Violencia Del Amor (The Violence of Love) , a collection of Archbishop Óscar Romero’s teachings, he seemingly anticipated the suffering that the Church needed to endure to remain faithful and challenge secular society to follow divine teaching.

La iglesia tiene que sufrir por decir la verdad, por señalar el pecado, para arrancar de raíz el pecado. Nadie quiere tener un punto delicado tocado, y por lo tanto una sociedad con tantas llagas tics cuando alguien tiene el coraje de tocar y decir: 'Hay que tratar eso. Hay que deshacerse de eso. Creer en Cristo. Convertíos'.
                                  {see translation above}

While Archbishop Romero was martyred by a right wing paramilitary, the Church may have to stand firm against militant secularism and progressive praetorianism. 

I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.

As he gave the Keynote to a College of Cardinal's meeting at St. John Lateran's Basilica in February 2012, New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan deflected any insinuations of glory that some might associate with being a  a cardinal.   Dolan, the jocular President of the U.S. Council of Catholic bishops jested: 

Holy Father, can you omit the 'shedding of your blood' when you present me with the biretta?" 
The pope responded-- "Of course not! We are but 'scarlet audio-visual aids' for all of our brothers and sisters also called to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus." 

This is a reminder of Archbishop Romero’s witness to the truth to the point of his death.

With Western progressive governments pushing same sex marriage, broad ability to divorce and liberal abortion, leaders in the Church who wish to defend traditional, scripturally inspired societal practices which chaff against the current.  Moreover, the application of Obamacare’s HHS Qualified Health Plan Contraception Mandate is anathematic to following their faith as well as the natural right of free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the Constitution. 

The fervency of faith and fearlessness for speaking the gospel certainly ought to be qualities considered when the College of Cardinals has its mid-March conclave in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's abdication.

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