We had some visitors today at the Cathedral in Melbourne: about 40 students from the Tabor Bible College “Year in the Son” course (Tabor is a Pentecostal/Evangelical bible college). James McDonald (the once and future Youth Ministry Director) and I spent the whole morning with them talking about the Catholic Church and Faith and answering their questions. Then we did the stations of the cross in the Cathedral with them, answered more questions, and they stayed for lunchtime mass. Cool.
But I was intrigued that their course leader, Stephen Said, said that he was a keen fan of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Mmm, I thought. A pity a few more people weren’t. Can’t understand why he isn’t yet at least a Blessed… All that business about Liberation Theology, they say.
Blow me down then if I didn’t come across the Archbishop’s name again later that afternoon when reading none other than Pope Benedict’s Angelus address for Sunday. Here’s what he said:
The “yes” of Jesus and Mary is in this way renewed in the “yes” of the saints, especially the martyrs, who are killed because of the Gospel.
I emphasize this because yesterday, March 24, the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero of San Salvador, we celebrated the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs: bishops, priests, religious, and lay people who were cut down as they carried out their mission of evangelization and human betterment.
These missionary martyrs, as this year’s theme says, are the “hope for the world,” because they bear witness that the love of Christ is stronger than violence and hate. They did not seek out martyrdom, but they were ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is justified only as the supreme act of love for God and our brothers.
That sounds to me as if Oscar Romero is on his way in from out of the cold. And it could also be that John Allen’s analysis of the Sobrino case was right–it isn’t about Liberation Theology (which was yesterday’s fight) but about Christology.
Anyway, its about time Oscar became Saint Oscar. Or at least Blessed Oscar. (Anyone want to argue about whether or not he was a martyr?)
Meanwhile, the “Other Oscar”, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez of Honduras, has a bold plan (according to John Allen) to revitalise the Church in Latin America: Preach the Gospel! According to Allen, the new approach will be about “aggressive grassroots evangelization”, “led by passionate Catholic laity”, and “rooted in scripture.” Rodriguez himself says:
Our current pastoral model is exhausted. We lost our people by the Word, and we have to recover them by the Word.
The Latin American Church will make its impact yet on World Catholicism, and it won’t be Liberation Theology that makes that impact.