Friday, April 26, 2013

Pope Francis shows his grit

Like many in the US, I was disappointed that the Vatican is continuing its efforts to reign in American nuns. Then, I learned today something that to me, is startling, inspiring, edifying and maybe a little stunning. The Vatican is proceeding with the possible beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador who was executed by a right wing death squad while saying Mass in 1980. Previously, the beatification process had been blocked.

To me, there could be no greater indictment of the Vatican than a perceived indifference, if not open hostility, to the Catholic martyrs of Central America in the 1980s. They included six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and the housekeeper’s child. Then there were the four women, three nuns and lay health worker who brutally kidnapped, beaten, raped and then murdered by the El Salvador National Guard.

There was a report that when Benedict XVIth visited Central America and at the edge of the crowd some demonstrators for the martyrs sought his attention, he was told by his local escorts to pay them no mind, they were “communists.”

Although there were some reasons to be optimistic about Pope Francis, there were also some qualms. He had been an outspoken  opponent of “liberation theology” for example. The pronouncement on the American nuns was not a promising sign.

However, whatever his reservations about liberation theology, this development augurs well. It is no small thing and I expect the reactionaries will soon be at open war on his papacy.

If you believe in prayer, pray for him. And if you don’t believe in prayer, at least cross your fingers.