Monday, January 10, 2011

The prospects for Archbishop Romero’s beatification in 2011 look better than they have looked in a few years, but not quite as good as they looked in 2005, when some of us thought the approval of Romero’s beatification was imminent before the death of John Paul II. As we begin the year, we can say that Romero’s cause has fulfilled the substantive and procedural requirements, and that the prudential considerations which have for the past three or four years been identified as the main stumbling blocks, have also been overcome. Therefore, it appears as though the path is clear for the cause to proceed. However, there are no signals that would indicate an impending acceleration.

Let’s review the major premises of the foregoing statement. The substantive and procedural requirements are satisfied. Church authorities now have the results of multiple proceedings—by the U.N., the OAS, a U.S. federal court and now the official recognition by the Salvadoran government, as well as newly released admissions by participants—which establish that Romero’s killers killed Romero because they took exception, they “hated,” what he preached and practiced. Church authorities also have internal, Church-conducted studies that prove that what Romero preached and practiced was “the faith”—they have established his orthodoxy and his orthopraxy. Therefore, it is possible to prove that Romero was killed in odium fidei, in hatred of the faith. This takes care of the substantive requirements. The procedural requirements also are satisfied: the diocesan investigations were completed in San Salvador, and the Roman investigations have been handled in the Vatican, thus completing the corresponding requirements of process.

The prudential obstacles that previously existed largely have been removed. It used to be said that a Romero beatification would embarrass the Salvadoran government, because the Church would be forced to point a finger at state-affiliated persons in order to beatify Romero. As noted previously, the State itself has accepted these findings and even accepted responsibility for Romero’s murder, so that concern is gone. Officials previously had voiced concerns that Romero’s beatification would be taken hostage by political radicals who would celebrate the beatification in the streets while the reaction of officialdom would be muted in contrast, due to continuing division in official circles about whether Romero was a saint. Here, again, the cause for concern has collapsed. The last two Salvadoran presidents, including a right wing president, both have supported Romero’s sainthood and the current president has even raised the celebration to the status of a national cause. More importantly, all of the bishops of the Salvadoran Church have rallied behind Romero’s sainthood. Therefore, if there are street celebrations, they will be in harmony with, not in shrill dissonance with, the official reaction.

In fact, Romero’s beatification is likely to receive broad approval from many institutions around the world, thus lending credibility to the Church. In addition to the Salvadoran government plaudits, just this past year, Romero has been praised by the head of the OAS, by the Central American parliament, by a resolution of the UN, by President Barack Obama, and by leaders of the Church of England, where Romero’s figure has grown in popularity in recent years. Accordingly, one could argue that the prudential considerations, if anything, actually have inverted, where now it is unwise not to beatify Romero sooner rather than later. Let us hope that the prevailing winds are sustained.


Beatification Chronology (Spanish)

2006 General Status Report

2007 Beatification outlook

2008 Beatification outlook (Spanish)

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