Friday, July 26, 2013


The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, said in an interview with Vatican Insider that there is no longer any doctrinal reservation standing against the beatification of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero and that, “under Francis’ pontificate, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is moving the process along even faster.” The prefect’s words do not contain much that is new, but they constitute the highest level confirmation of several previously-known points.
Follow-up: Reactions came quickly in El Salvador, at the highest level after the news was reported in the local press.  On Saturday, Pres. Mauricio Funes boasted that the beatification process was moving along faster than expected, during his weekly radio broadcast.  And on Sunday, the Archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, said that the canonization of Msgr. Romero would be “the greatest thing that could happen to this country.”


El Prefecto de la Congregación para la Doctrina de la Fe, monseñor Gerhard Ludwig Müller, dijo en una entrevista con Vatican Insider que ya no hay más reservas doctrinales en contra de la beatificación de Monseñor Oscar A. Romero,  y que “con el Papa Francisco, el proceso procede con mayor velocidad en la Congregación para las Causas de los Santos”. Las palabras del prefecto no contienen mucha novedad, pero han sido la confirmación de mas alto nivel de varios puntos ya conocidos.
Seguimiento: Las reacciones no tardaron en llegar a El Salvador, en el nivel más alto después de que se informó de la noticia en la prensa local.  El sábado, el presidente Mauricio Funes celebró de que el proceso de beatificación se movía más rápido de lo esperado, durante su programa de radio semanal.  Y el domingo, el arzobispo de San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, ha declarado que la canonización de Mons. Romero sería “lo más grande que le puede pasar a este país”.


Il Prefetto della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, l’arcivescovo Gerhard Ludwig Müller, ha detto in un’intervista a Vatican Insider che non ci sono più riserve dottrinali alla beatificazione di Mons. Oscar A. Romero e che “con Papa Francesco, il processo procede ancor più speditamente presso la Congregazione per le cause dei Santi”.  Le parole del prefetto non contengono molte novità, ma hanno stato la conferma del piu alto livello di diversi punti gia conosciuti.
Follow-up: le reazioni vennero rapidamente in El Salvador, al più alto livello dopo che la notizia è stata riportata dalla stampa locale.  Sabato scorso, il presidente Mauricio Funes ha rallegrato che il processo di beatificazione è stato avanzando più velocemente del previsto, durante la sua trasmissione radiofonica settimanale.  E la Domenica, l'Arcivescovo di San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas, ha dichiarato che la canonizzazione di mons. Romero sarebbe “la cosa più grande che potrebbe accadere a questo paese”.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Pope Francis crossed paths with Archbishop Romero in a Rio de Janeiro slum:

(Here's the scoop.)

Pope Francis greets residents of the Manginhos favela in Rio de Janeiro under the gaze of a giant Oscar Romero poster.
The Pope of the Poor and the Bishop of the Poor.

Before entering the soccer field, a woman presented the Pontiff a smaller facsimile of the giant Romero poster, which the Pope put his hand over, nodding and speaking briefly to the woman who presented it.

*       *       *

Footnote: for clarification, the use of terms like “Church of the Poor,” “Pope of the Poor,” “Bishop of the Poor” in this blog are meant in an Evangelical sense—to the degree we all aspire to be ‘poor in Spirit’ (Mt. 5:3), to the extent all our popes are shepherds of the poor.  We reject, as Archbishop Romero rejected, a “demagogic” sense for these terms.  Romero explained the distinction this way:
The other day one of these people who proclaims liberation in a political sense was asked: ‘For you, what is the meaning of the Church?’ He answered with these scandalous words: ‘There are two churches, the church of the rich and the church of the poor. We believe in the church of the poor but not in the church of the rich.’ Clearly, these words are a form of demagogy and I will never admit a division of the Church. There is only one Church, the Church that Christ preached, the Church to which we should give our whole hearts… (Nov. 11, 1979 Sermon.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

«HASTA EL 2017»

El Papa Francisco ha prometido regresar al santuario de Aparecida en el 2017, cuando se cumplen 300 años del hallazgo de la imagen de la Virgen patrona del Brazil.  Por favor, recen por mí. Lo necesito. Que Dios los bendiga y Nuestra Señora de Aparecida cuide de ustedes. Hasta 2017, porque voy a volver”, ha dicho el Sumo Pontífice.  El 12 de octubre de 2017 se cumplen 300 años desde que la venerada imagen fuera rescatada por tres pescadores de las aguas del río Paraíba. 

Por casualidad, el 15 de agosto del mismo año se cumplen 100 años del natalicio de Mons. Oscar A. Romero

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


By now, you may have seen the images of Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro: “ecstatic believers swarmed around the closed Fiat” after “the pope's driver turned into the wrong part of a boulevard and missed lanes that had been cleared” from traffic (photo), “in scenes that at times looked alarming.” [Associated Press story.]  The Pontiff had only recently decided to circulate through downtown Rio de Janeiro to be close to the people in a decision that “exemplified the spontaneity that has already become a trademark quality of Pope Francis’ young pontificate,” said the commentators.

But this photo gallery is about another Pope, on another trip to Latin America, and another decision to veer from the playbook.  Arguably, the danger was even greater when Pope John Paul II visited El Salvador in 1983, during a full-fledged civil war in that country, and the Pontiff made the risky decision to defy the will of the host government to visit the tomb of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero, whose assassination three years earlier had started the war.  “In dealing with difficultsometimes, even rough or dangeroussituations,” Cardinal Roberto Tucci recalled, “Pope Wojtyla was stubborn.”  Card. Tucci organized the late Pope’s foreign trips.  “Staying away from that tomb was one of the conditions imposed by the Government before they could agree to the visit,” the Cardinal recalled.  “The bishops advised the Pope not to go.”

So, what did Blessed John Paul do?  Here are the pictures that are well worth the thousand words.

March 6, 1983: “Shepherd One” lands at Ilopango Airport, El Salvador.  John Paul II is the first Pope to step on Salvadoran soil, even while a civil war rages on

The Popemobile tours through the war-torn and impoverished capital.

Breaking protocol and defying advice, John Paul directs his driver to take him to San Salvador’s shuttered Cathedral where Archb. Romero is buried (seen behind the Pope’s car).

Stunned onlookers and army officers stand by while clerics scurry to find the keys to the Cathedral, which was locked, and John Paul, sporting the papal galero (hat) walks toward the church doors.

John Paul walks into the San Salvador Cathedral, under construction and closed because of the war, accompanied by two archbishops of San Salvador.

Pope John Paul II arrives at, and pauses before, the grave of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero, murdered in San Salvador three years before

John Paul stands before the tomb of Archbishop Romero, emblazoned with the archbishop’s motto, “Sentir con la Iglesia” (“To Be of One Heart/One Mind With the Church”).

In a dramatic moment, John Paul kneels before Archb. Romero’s grave.  According to some reports, the Pontiff uttered “Romero is ours” with his hand upon the martyred prelate’s tomb.

John Paul prays at Archb. Romero’s grave.  The Pontiff knelt on the bare floor.

Friday, July 19, 2013


The poor and the young constitute the wealth and the hope of the Church in Latin America,” declared Óscar A. Romero, the slain Archbishop of San Salvador, in 1980.  Those two forces—the poor and the young—will converge as Pope Francis, who has made the poor a central focus of the Church, heads to Rio de Janeiro for the 28th World Youth Day.  The first World Youth Day with a Latin American pope, celebrated in Latin America, will put the focus squarely on what Pope Benedict called “the Continent of Hope,” and therefore we offer this whirlwind tour of Latin America’s Catholic soul.
As Pope Francis arrives, the turbulent political climate looms large.  It always does in Latin America.  The region has a history of upheaval, with the Church in the middle of the drama, ever the tempest-tossed barque navigating perilous waters.  The most recent turmoil concerns widespread popular protests against Brazil’s largesse in funding big international events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, while spending in needed infrastructure and social programs languishes (official support for WYD2013 could fall into the same category, but it is much smaller in scale).  The Brazilian president’s popularity has plummeted and six people have been killed during the protests, but this tumult is tame by comparison to the trouble that has characterized the continent.  During the 20th Century, a few Latin American countries had all-out civil wars (e.g., Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua); many others had simmering insurrections, military coups and similar episodes (e.g., Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Peru); and pretty much the entire region has endured military juntas and dictatorships, all generally aimed at containing social unrest begot by deep economic disparities in the way Latin American societies traditionally have been structured.
The Church acknowledged the economic disparities in a landmark regional synod held in Medellin, Colombia in 1968, and attended by Pope Paul VI.  There are many studies of the Latin American people,” the bishops said in a statement then.  All of these studies describe the misery that besets large masses of human beings in all of our countries. That misery, as a collective fact, expresses itself as injustice which cries to the heavens,” they declared.  The bishops at Medellin defined the twin pillars that characterize the Latin American Church’s spirit: evangelization and integral human promotion.  The Latin American bishops re-confirmed this commitment at their most recent meeting, which was held in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil—one of the cities in Pope Francis’ WYD2013 itinerary.  Then Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio played an influential role at that meeting, and is largely responsible for its resulting document.  The influential Catholic commentator George Weigel lauded the text.  The Aparecida Document suggests that Latin America is far more than just the demographic center of the Catholic Church,” he wrote.  In the light of Christ,” the document states, “suffering, injustice, and the cross challenge us to live as [a] Samaritan church, recalling that evangelization has always developed alongside the promotion of the human person and authentic Christian liberation.”  That commitment to evangelization with human promotion appears to be the core of Pope Francis’ own mission and it likely stems from his roots in the Latin American Church.
Some have questioned whether the quest for social justice has always accompanied evangelization, as the Aparecida document states.  One of the strongest voices to speak up in favor of social justice in Latin America was the aforementioned Archbishop Romero, killed in El Salvador in 1980 specifically because of his denunciation of human rights abuses by the military dictatorship in his country.  In a 1979 pastoral letter, Romero argued that “the Church has always made its presence felt when society clearly seemed in a sinful situation,” and he pointed to early champions of the rights of the natives, such as Friar Bartolomé de las Casas, in Mexico.  In May 2007, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that the Church’s track record was not spotless.  The Pope recognized “the suffering and the injustice inflicted by colonizers on the indigenous populations, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon.”  But, he noted that the excesses had been “condemned at the time by missionaries like Bartolomé de Las Casas,” and did not outweigh “the wonderful works accomplished by divine grace among those populations in the course of these centuries.”  Pope Benedict noted the contributions of church leaders, historic and present.  The Gospel,” he said in 2008, “brought there by the first missionaries and preached fervently by Pastors full of love for God such as Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, has put down deep roots in this beautiful Land and has yielded abundant fruits of Christian life and holiness.”
From Bartolomé de las Casas to Óscar Romero, the Latin America Church has traversed the rich expanse of the Continent’s history.  Most recently, the Church navigated the tumultuous 20th century, when many Latin American countries struggled to finally resolve the unfinished business of emancipation from European colonial powers (mostly Spain).  A secret 1969 CIA analysis divided the mid-20th century Latin American Church into three factions: ultraconservative “Reactionaries,” mainstream “Uncommitted,” and the burgeoning “Committed” block.  Reactionaries were the smallest group, and though the Uncommitted were vast, the Committed clergy were the most influential, it found.  They were buoyed by the outcome of the Second Vatican Council, where their leaders successfully lobbied for a strong commitment to social justice.  Pope Benedict was a theological consultant at the Council, and he recalled that, “well aware of the extreme poverty of its people, on a Catholic continent,” the Latin contingent at the Council pressed the issues of “the responsibility of the faith for the situation of these people” and “responsibility for the future of this world and eschatological hope” as dimensions of the faith in the modern world.  The 1969 CIA report noted that the Committed Latin American clergy were “insistent on the Church disposing of its material possessions and becoming a ‘Poor Church’ as well as the ‘Church of the Poor’.”  (Compare Pope Francis: “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!”)  Indeed, the Latin American Church is an influential sector of the global Church today.  As George Weigel said, “Latin America is far more than just the demographic center of the Catholic Church.”
The Latin American Church is at least that—the demographic hub of the global Church.  A recent Pew study quantified the vast shift towards Latin America in world Catholicism.  In 1910, Europe was home to about two-thirds of all Catholics, and nearly nine-in-ten lived either in Europe (65%) or Latin America (24%),” the study found.  By 2010, by contrast, only about a quarter of all Catholics (24%) were in Europe. The largest share (39%) were in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the study concludes.  Latin America’s Catholic identify, though waning somewhat, is still fairly strong.  Some Latin American countries—like Argentina and Costa Rica—still recognize Catholicism as the official state religion.  Others—like the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru—do not recognize the Church officially, but still give it preferential status in their constitutions.  And while the CIA’s 1969 classifications seem somehow outdated, there are still currents within Latin American Catholicism that are useful to understand.  An article in The Christian Century differentiates among four: (1) popular piety (which “features fiestas and holidays, as well as huge gatherings in honor of various statues of the virgin, or of patron saints”); (2) the traditional church; (3) the Vatican II church (the heirs of the “Committed” group—which would include Pope Francis and Archb. Romero); and (4) the activist church (the more radical currents of Liberation Theology).  Hopefully knowing the back story will help newcomers to better understand how these currents interact.
*       *       *

In 1979, Óscar Romero celebrated a vigil with the young.  He presented the participants to the general congregation.  Without a doubt,” he said, “this prayer vigil has strengthened their spirit and made them pleasing to God because they have fortified the meaning of the Church.”  Then he turned to the young people themselves.  As I look at you, my dear young women and men,” Archb. Romero said, “I think of the central person of this morning’s reflections: the young Jesus.”  Like Jesus, Romero said, young people should ask themselves, “What does God desire of you? Above all other economic and family considerations it is important to be able to discern this question: what does God desire of you?
*       *       *
Update: Pope Francis struck a similar chord in remarks to the faithful during his July 21 «Angelus» prayer.  “All those going to Rio want to hear the voice of Jesus, to listen to Jesus,” the pope said. They want to ask, “Lord Jesus, what must I do with my life? What is the path for me?



Los pobres y los jóvenes constituyen la riqueza y la esperanza de la Iglesia en América Latina”, declaró Mons. Óscar A. Romero, el arzobispo asesinado de San Salvador, en 1980.  Esas dos fuerzas—los pobres y los jóvenes—se encontrarán cuando el Papa Francisco, que ha puesto a los pobres en un punto central en su Iglesia, llegue a Río de Janeiro a celebrar el 28 ° Día Mundial de la Juventud.  El primer Día Mundial de la Juventud con un Papa latinoamericano, celebrado en la América Latina, va a poner en relieve lo que el Papa Benedicto XVI llamó “el continente de la esperanza, y por ello se ofrece este ligero recorrido por el alma católica de Latinoamérica.
A la llegada del Papa, las turbulencias del clima político cobran un espacio principal.  Siempre es así en América Latina.  La región tiene una historia de agitación, con la Iglesia en medio del drama, siempre siendo la barca sacudida por la tempestad navegando aguas convulsas.  La crisis más reciente surge de amplias protestas populares contra gastos excesivos del Brasil para financiar grandes eventos internacionales como la Copa del Mundo del 2014 y los Juegos Olímpicos del 2016, mientras que el gasto en programas sociales y de infraestructura languidece (el apoyo oficial para la JMJ podría caer en la misma categoría, pero es mucho más pequeña en escala).  La popularidad del presidente de Brasil ha decaído precipitosamente y seis personas han muerto durante las protestas, pero este tumulto es leve comparado con los conflictos que han caracterizado al continente.  Durante el siglo XX, algunos países de América Latina han sufrido terribles guerras civiles (por ejemplo: Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, y Nicaragua), y muchos otros han experimentado insurrecciones a fuego lento, golpes militares y episodios similares (por ejemplo: Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, y el Perú ), y prácticamente toda la región ha sufrido juntas militares y dictaduras, todas generalmente orientadas a contener el malestar social  causado por las profundas desigualdades sociales y económicas en la forma en que las sociedades latinoamericanas se han estructurado.
La Iglesia reconoció las disparidades económicas en un histórico sínodo regional celebrado en Medellín, Colombia, en 1968, con la presencia del Papa Pablo VI.  Existen muchos estudios sobre la situación del hombre latinoamericano”, dijeron los obispos en un comunicado de aquel momento.  En todos ellos se describe la miseria que margina a grandes grupos humanos. Esa miseria, como hecho colectivo, es una injusticia que clama al cielo”, se proclamó entonces.  Los obispos en Medellín han definido los dos pilares que caracterizan el espíritu de la Iglesia en América Latina: la evangelización y la promoción humana.  Los obispos de América Latina han vuelto a confirmar ese compromiso en su última reunión, celebrada en el 2007 en Aparecida, Brasil, una de las ciudades en el itinerario del Papa Francisco para esta JMJ del 2013.  El entonces cardenal  Jorge Mario Bergoglio desempeñó un papel importante en aquella reunión, y es el responsable de su documento final.  El influyente comentarista católico George Weigel elogió el texto.  El Documento de Aparecida sugiere que América Latina es mucho más que el centro demográfico de la Iglesia Católica”, ha dicho.  Iluminados por Cristo”—reza el documento— “el sufrimiento, la injusticia y la cruz nos interpelan a vivir como Iglesia samaritana recordando que la evangelización ha ido unida siempre a la promoción humana y a la auténtica liberación cristiana”.  Ese compromiso por una evangelización acompañada por la promoción humana parece ser el núcleo de la propia misión del Papa Francisco y probablemente deriva de sus raíces en la Iglesia latinoamericana.
Algunos han cuestionado si la búsqueda de la justicia social siempre ha acompañado a la evangelización, como señala el documento de Aparecida.  Una de las voces más fuertes que ha hablado en favor de la justicia social en América Latina ha sido el ya mencionado Mons. Romero, asesinado en El Salvador en 1980 específicamente como consecuencia de su denuncia de las violaciones a los derechos humanos cometidas por la dictadura militar en su país.  En una carta pastoral de 1979, Romero sostiene que “la Iglesia ha estado siempre presente cuando la situación de una sociedad aparece claramente como situación de pecado”, y se refiere a los primeros campeones de los derechos de los indígenas, como Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, en México.  En mayo de 2007, el Papa Benedicto XVI reconoció que la trayectoria de la Iglesia no ha sido impecable.  El Papa reconoció “los sufrimientos y las injusticias que infligieron los colonizadores a las poblaciones indígenas, a menudo pisoteadas en sus derechos humanos fundamentales”.  Sin embargo, señaló que los excesos habían sido “condenados ya entonces por misioneros como Bartolomé de las Casas”, y que no superan “la admirable obra que ha llevado a cabo la gracia divina entre esas poblaciones a lo largo de estos siglos”.  El Papa Benedicto reconoce las contribuciones de los líderes de la iglesia, históricos y actuales.  El Evangelio”—dijo el Papa en el 2008—“llevado allí por los primeros misioneros y predicado también con fervor por pastores llenos de amor de Dios, como Mons. Óscar Arnulfo Romero, ha arraigado ampliamente en esa hermosa tierra, dando frutos abundantes de vida cristiana y de santidad”.
Desde Bartolomé de las Casas a Óscar Romero, la Iglesia de América Latina ha atravesado la rica trayectoria de la historia del continente.  La Iglesia ha tenido que navegar el tumultuoso siglo XX, en el cual muchos países latinoamericanos lucharon para finalmente resolver su emancipación de las potencias coloniales europeas (principalmente España).  Un análisis secreto de la CIA de 1969 divide la Iglesia en América Latina a mediados del siglo XX en tres facciones: los “Reaccionarios” ultraconservadores; un sector principal “No Comprometido”; y un bloque emergente “Comprometido”.  Los reaccionarios eran el grupo más pequeño, y aunque el grupo no comprometido era enorme, los clérigos comprometidos eran los más influyentes—analiza el informe.  Estos últimos cobraban fuerzas del resultado del Concilio Vaticano II, donde sus dirigentes presionaron con éxito para obtener un fuerte compromiso con la justicia social.  Benedicto XVI fue consultor teológico del Concilio, y recuerda que, “conociendo bien la miseria del pueblo, de un continente católico”, el contingente de América en el Concilio gestionó los temas de “la responsabilidad de la fe por la situación de estos hombres” y de la “responsabilidad por el futuro de este mundo y la esperanza escatológica” como dimensiones de la fe en el mundo moderno.  El informe de 1969 de la CIA señaló que el clero comprometido de América Latina ha sido “insistente en que la Iglesia debe deshacerse de sus posesiones materiales y convertirse en una ‘Iglesia pobre’, así como una ‘Iglesia de los pobres’.”  (Compárese el Papa Francisco: “¡Ah, cómo quisiera una Iglesia pobre y para los pobres!”)  En fin, la Iglesia en América Latina es un sector influyente de la Iglesia Universal. Como dice Weigel, “América Latina es mucho más que el centro demográfico de la Iglesia Católica”.
La Iglesia en América Latina es por lo menos eso—el centro demográfico.  Un reciente estudio del grupo Pew cuantificó el gran cambio a favor de América Latina en el catolicismo.  En el 1910, Europa era la base de cerca de dos tercios de todos los católicos, y casi nueve de cada diez vivía o en Europa (65%) o América Latina (24%)”, dice el estudio.  En cambio, en el 2010, sólo una cuarta parte de todos los católicos (24%) se encuentran en Europa.  La mayor parte (39%) se encuentra en América Latina y el Caribe”, concluye el estudio.  La identidad católica de América Latina, ha sufrido leves bajas, pero sigue siendo bastante fuerte.  Algunos países latinoamericanos—como Argentina y Costa Rica—todavía reconocen al catolicismo como la religión oficial del estado.  Otros—como la República Dominicana, El Salvador, Panamá, Paraguay y Perú—no reconocen a la Iglesia oficial, pero aún así le dan trato preferencial en sus constituciones.  Si bien las clasificaciones de la CIA de 1969 parecen anticuadas, todavía existen corrientes dentro del catolicismo latinoamericano que se deben entender.  Un artículo publicado en The Christian Century distingue entre cuatro: (1) la piedad popular (lo que “tiene que ver con las fiestas patronales, así como enormes aglomeraciones en honor a varias imágenes de la virgen o de los santos”), (2) la iglesia tradicional , (3) la iglesia del Vaticano II (los herederos del grupo “comprometido”, incluyendo al Papa Francisco y a Mons. Romero.), y (4) la iglesia activista (las corrientes más radicales de la Teología de la Liberación).  Esperemos que un conocimiento de los antecedentes historicos ayude a entender mejor cómo interactúan estas corrientes.

*       *       *

En 1979, Óscar Romero celebró una vigilia de jóvenes.  Presentó sus participantes a los feligreses.  Habían participado—dijo—en “una vigilia que sin duda ha robustecido sus espíritus y, sobre todo, ha agradado a Dios porque han fortificado el sentido de Iglesia”.  Luego se dirigió a los propios jóvenes.  Al verlos a Uds., queridos jóvenes”—dijo Mons.  Romero—“pienso precisamente en el personaje central de esta mañana: Cristo joven”.  Al igual que Jesús, dijo Romero, los jóvenes deben preguntarse a sí mismos: “¿Para qué me quiere Dios? Y saber discernir por encima de todos los considerandos económicos y familiares: ¿para qué me quiere Dios?

*       *       *

Actualización: el Papa Francisco sonó una nota similar durante su recitación del «Angelus» el 21 de julio.  “Todos los que van a Rio quieren escuchar la voz de Jesús, escuchar a Jesús”, dijo el Papa.  Necesitan saber, “Señor, ¿qué debo hacer con mi vida? ¿Cuál es el camino para mí?


I poveri ei giovani sono la ricchezza e la speranza della Chiesa in America Latina”, ha dichiarato Oscar A. Romero, l’ucciso Arcivescovo di San Salvador, nel 1980.  Queste due forze—i poveri ei giovani—si incontreranno quando il Papa Francisco, che ha fatto il povero un focus centrale della Chiesa, si dirige a Rio de Janeiro per la 28 ° Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù.  La prima Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù con un papa latinoamericano, celebrata in America Latina, metterà l’accento su ciò che Papa Benedetto chiama il “Continente della Speranza”, e quindi ci offrono questo tour dell anima cattolica dell’America Latina.
All’arrivo del Papa, le turbolenze del clima politico caricare uno spazio principale.  Lo fa sempre in America Latina.  La regione ha una storia di sconvolgimenti, con la Chiesa al centro del dramma, mai la barca sbattuta dalla tempesta navigando acque perigliose.  L’ultima crisi nasce da grandi proteste popolari contro le spese eccessive del Brasile per finanziare grandi eventi internazionali come la Coppa del Mondo del 2014 e le Olimpiadi del 2016, mentre la spesa per i programmi sociali e le infrastrutture languono (il supporto ufficiale per GMG‘2013 potrebbe rientrare nella stessa categoria, ma è molto più piccolo in scala).  La popolarità della presidente brasiliano è sceso precipitosamente e sei persone sono state uccise durante le proteste, ma questo tumulto è piccolo rispetto ai conflitti che hanno caratterizzato il continente.  Nel corso del XX secolo, alcuni paesi dell'America latina hanno subito terribili guerre civili (ad esempio, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua); e molti altri hanno sperimentato insurrezioni sobbollire, colpi di stato militari e di episodi simili (ad esempio, Argentina, Cile, Guatemala, Perù), e praticamente l’intera regione ha subito giunte militari e dittature, tutte orientate generalmente ad contengono tensioni sociali causate da profonde disuguaglianze sociali ed economiche nel modo che le società latino-americane sono strutturati.
La Chiesa ha riconosciuto le disparità economiche in uno storico sinodo regionale tenutosi a Medellin, in Colombia, nel 1968, con la partecipazione di Papa Paolo VI.  Ci sono molti studi sui popoli latinoamericani”, i vescovi hanno detto in una dichiarazione poi.  Tutti questi studi descrivono la miseria che affligge le grandi masse di esseri umani in tutti i nostri paesi.  Questa miseria, come un fatto collettivo, è un’ingiustizia che grida al cielo”, hanno dichiarato.  I vescovi a Medellin definiti i due pilastri che caratterizzano lo spirito della Chiesa latinoamericana: l’evangelizzazione e la promozione umana integrale.  I vescovi latinoamericani hanno riconfermato questo impegno nella sua ultima riunione, tenutasi nel 2007 ad Aparecida, in Brasile, una delle città nel itinerario del Papa Francesco per la GMG‘2013.  L'allora Cardinale Jorge Mario Bergoglio ha avuto un ruolo influente in quella riunione, ed è in gran parte responsabile del suo documento risultante.  L’influente commentatore cattolico George Weigel ha lodato il testo.  Il documento di Aparecida suggerisce che l’America Latina è molto più di un semplice centro demografico della Chiesa cattolica”, ha scritto Weigel.  Nella luce di Cristo”, il documento afferma: “la sofferenza, l'ingiustizia e la croce ci sfida a vivere come chiesa Samaritana, ricordando che l’evangelizzazione è sempre sviluppata sempre insieme con la promozione della persona umana e l’autentica liberazione cristiana”.  Questo impegno di evangelizzazione accompagnato dalla promozione umana sembra essere il nucleo della propria missione di Papa Francesco ‘e probabilmente deriva dalle sue radici nella Chiesa latinoamericana.
Alcuni hanno messo in dubbio che la ricerca della giustizia sociale ha sempre accompagnato l’evangelizzazione, come afferma il documento di Aparecida.  Una delle voci più forti a parlare in favore della giustizia sociale in America Latina è stato il suddetto Mons. Romero, ucciso in El Salvador nel 1980, proprio a causa della sua denuncia delle violazioni dei diritti umani da parte della dittatura militare nel suo paese.  In una lettera pastorale dal 1979 , Romero ha sostenuto che “la Chiesa è sempre stata presente quando la società sembrava chiaramente in una situazione di peccato”, e si riferisce ai primi campioni dei diritti delle popolazioni indigene, come il frate Bartolomé de las Casas, in Messico.  Nel maggio 2007, Papa Benedetto XVI ha riconosciuto che il ‘track record’ della Chiesa non ha stato immacolato.  Il Papa ha riconosciuto “le sofferenze e le ingiustizie inflitte dai colonizzatori alle popolazioni indigene, spesso calpestate nei loro diritti umani fondamentali”.  Ma, ha osservato che gli eccessi erano stati “già allora condannati da missionari come Bartolomeo de Las Casas”, e non erano superiori “dell’opera meravigliosa compiuta dalla grazia divina tra quelle popolazioni nel corso di questi secoli”.  Papa Benedetto XVI ha osservato i contributi della chiesa, storici e attuali.  Il Vangelo”, ha detto nel 2008, “portato lì dai primi missionari e predicato con fervore da pastori pieni di amore di Dio, come monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero, si è ampiamente radicato in questa bella terra, recando frutti abbondanti di vita cristiana e di santità”.
Da Bartolomé de las Casas a Óscar Romero, la Chiesa nella America latina ha attraversato la ricca distesa di storia del Continente.  Più di recente, la Chiesa navigato il tumultuoso XX secolo, quando molti paesi latino-americani hanno lottato per risolvere finalmente la loro emancipazione dalle potenze coloniali europee (soprattutto Spagna).  Una analisi segreto della CIA del 1969 divise la Chiesa in America Latina nella metà del XX secolo in tre fazioni: ultraconservatori “reazionari”; un settore vasto “non impegnato”; e il blocco fiorente “impegnato”.  Reazionari erano il gruppo più piccolo, e anche se il non impegnato erano enorme, sacerdoti impegnati hanno stati il più influente, secondo l’ analisi.  Essi sono stati sostenuti dal risultato del Concilio Vaticano II, dove i loro leader spingono con successo per un forte impegno per la giustizia sociale.  Papa Benedetto è stato consulente teologico al Concilio, e ha ricordato che, “sapendo bene della miseria del popolo, di un continente cattolico”, il contingente latino al Consiglio preme i temi della “responsabilità della fede per la situazione di questi uomini” e “della responsabilità per la costruzione di questo mondo, della società, responsabilità per il futuro di questo mondo e speranza escatologica”, come le dimensioni della fede nel mondo moderno.  La rapporto della CIA del 1969 ha osservato che i clero latino americani impegnato erano “insistente che la Chiesa deve liberarsi dei loro averi e diventare una ‘chiesa povera’ e una ‘Chiesa dei poveri’.”  (Confronta Papa Francesco : “Ah, come vorrei una Chiesa povera e per i poveri!”).  Infatti, la Chiesa in America Latina è un settore influente della Chiesa globale di oggi. Come ha detto George Weigel: “L’America Latina è molto più di un semplice centro demografico della Chiesa cattolica”.
La Chiesa in America Latina è almeno questo—il fulcro demografico della Chiesa mondiale.  Un recente studio del Pew quantificato il vasto spostamento verso l’America Latina nel cattolicesimo mondiale.  Nel 1910, l’Europa è stata la base di circa due terzi di tutti i cattolici, e quasi nove su dieci viveva né in Europa (65%) o in America Latina (24%)”, lo studio ha trovato.  Invece, nel 2010, solo circa un quarto di tutti i cattolici (24%) erano in Europa.  La quota maggiore (39%) erano in America Latina e nei Caraibi”, conclude lo studio.  L'identità cattolica dell'America Latina, ha subito perdite minori, ma ancora abbastanza forte.  Alcuni paesi dell'America Latina—come Argentina e Costa Rica—ancora riconoscono il cattolicesimo come religione ufficiale dello Stato.  Altri—come la Repubblica Dominicana, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay e Perù—non riconoscono la Chiesa ufficiale, ma ancora dare un trattamento preferenziale nelle loro.  Alcuni paesi—come l’Argentina e Costa Rica—latinoamericani ancora riconoscere il cattolicesimo come religione ufficiale dello Stato.  Altri, come la Repubblica Dominicana, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay e Perù-non riconoscono la Chiesa ufficialmente, ma ancora danno status preferenziale nelle loro costituzioni.  E mentre gli classificazioni della CIA del 1.969 sembrano antiquate, ci sono ancora correnti all’interno del cattolicesimo latinoamericano che sono utili per capire.  Un articolo in The Christian Century distingue tra quattro: (1) la pietà popolare (che “ha a che fare con i festeggiamenti e le folle enormi in onore di diverse immagini della Vergine e dei santi patroni”), (2) la chiesa tradizionale, (3) la Chiesa del Vaticano II (gli eredi del gruppo impegnato comprenderebbero Papa Francesco e Mons. Romero.) e (4) la chiesa militante (le correnti più radicali della Teologia della Liberazione).  Speriamo che, una comprensione del contesto storico sarà aiutare i nuovi arrivati ​​a comprendere meglio come queste correnti interagiscono.  

  *    *    *  

Nel 1979, Óscar Romero ha celebrato una veglia con i giovani.  Ha presentato i partecipanti alla congregazione generale.  Senza dubbio”, ha detto, “questa veglia di preghiera ha rafforzato il loro spirito e, soprattutto, è piaciuto a Dio perché hanno fortificato il senso della Chiesa”.  Poi si voltò verso i giovani stessi.  Vederli a voi, cari giovani”, ha detto Mons.  Romero: “Penso di la persona centrale della riflessione di questa mattina: Del giovane Gesù”.  Come Gesù, Romero ha detto, i giovani dovrebbero chiedersi: “Che cosa fa Dio voglia da me?  Sopra tutte le altre considerazioni economiche e familiari, è importante essere in grado di discernere questa domanda: Che cosa fa Dio voglia da me?”   
  *    *    *  
Aggiornamento: Papa Francesco ha parlato in maniera simile nelle osservazioni ai fedeli durante il suo «Angelus» del 21 luglio.  Tutti coloro che vengono a Rio vogliono sentire la voce di Gesù, ascoltare Gesù,” ha detto il papa.  Vogliono chiedere: “Signore, che cosa devo fare della mia vita? Qual è la strada per me?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A commentary by «L’Espresso»’s Vatican analyst Alessandro Magister argues that Pope Francis brings to bear the full force of his persuasive authority regarding the Church’s processing of future saints.  In beatifications and canonizations, the pope is acting as an absolute monarch,” Magister concludes—and he points to the Pope’s lifting of the hold order on Archbishop Romero as a case in point.  We’ll take issue with Mr. Magister just this once—at least with respect to his assertion that Francis’ “unblocking” of Archbishop Romero’s canonization cause is an unusual exertion of papal influence.
Refuting Mr. Magister’s reading that the Pope’s action is unusual boils down to three points:
  • Papal intervention over particular causes is not out of the ordinary, as is evident from the history of the Romero cause—which has been dependent on papal preferences from the outset;
  • Francis has not given any special dispensation to Archb. Romero’s cause; he has simply put it on similar footing as other causes by removing an exceptional “hold” impeding its progress; and
  • The “unblocking” of Archb. Romero’s cause was part of a process that was already in motion and in which the Pope’s intervention was not as dramatic as it may have seemed.
First, the Pope’s personal active involvement in particular canonization causes is not unusual.  In fact, papal involvement in Archb. Romero’s canonization cause is not unusual.  It is par for the course.  As the relator for the Romero process, Fr.Daniel Ols, said in a 2003 interview, “if the Holy Father wants things to accelerate, they speed up.”  In Making Saints: How The Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes A Saint, Who Doesn't, And Why (1996), Kenneth Woodward reveals the extent of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s involvement in the institution of Archb. Romero’s canonization process.  Woodard details how Bl. John Paul believed that Romero was a martyr, but he asked Salvadoran Church authorities to hold-off on initiating the canonization process until such time as it could be assured of a positive reception.  Woodard says, “it is apparent that John Paul II had personally interdicted, for the time being, any effort on the part of the Salvadoran church officials to introduce a canonization process for Archbishop Romero.”  He notes that, “Such a direct papal intervention is highly unusual, but not unprecedented.  Woodward, at 45 (emphases mine).  In fact, the cause was not started until the late pope signed off on the timing: even though the cause “did not sit well in some Vatican dicasteries … John Paul II, personally and in spite of this, gave his approval” (Sobrino—emphasis mine).  It is evident that Archb. Romero has depended on papal authority from the beginning.
Second, by “unblocking” Archb. Romero’s process, Pope Francis has not given his canonization cause any special advantage over other causes.  He has simply assured that the opposite was not true—he has guaranteed that Archb. Romero’s canonization process would not be subjected to further delays because of political considerations.  Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, has stated that even though he has reason to know that Pope Francis “is absolutely convinced that Romero is a saint and a martyr” and that “everything points to his beatification being in the cards,” nevertheless “we follow God’s time frame which is not the same as ours.”  El Salvador's ambassador to the Holy See, Manuel Lopez, belongs to the Catholic Sovereign Order of Malta and also commented on the next steps.   The postulator will present the positio to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, it will be analyzed first by a commission of theologians, and then by a commission of cardinals, and the two commissions will forward their recommendations to the Pope, who will make the final determination,” said Lopez. In other words, the course that Archb. Romero’s process will follow is the ordinary course.
Finally—and Mr. Magister candidly acknowledges this fact in his analysis—it is not clear how decisive Pope Francis’ intervention was, as “unblocking” the cause may have been a merely ministerial act; it may have been started under Pope Benedict; and it may have followed independent developments in the canonization office.  In 2012 «La Stampa» analyzed that bureaucracy “plays a role” in explaining the lack of progress and that a directive re-starting the “coordination required between the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” might set the cause back in motion.   That appears to be what Francis has done.  Moreover, Bishop Rosa Chavez has stated that Pope Benedict XVI had been gearing up to do the same before he retired.  Finally, in an interview in February of this year, the postulator of the cause, Archb. Vincenzo Paglia, spoke of his plan to kick-start Romero’s beatification cause.  «La Stampa» later reported that Paglia’s strategy has opened an “expressway” to beatification for Archb. Romero.  Pope Francis merely confirmed these developments.
For all these reasons, “unblocking” Archb. Romero’s cause is not evidence of heavy handedness by the Pontiff, as Pope Francis’ action is in keeping with historical precedents for these processes.


Elsewhere, Mr. Magister also writes that the cause had been blocked, “in part because of the influence over Bishop Romero - and above all over his boundless homiletic production - exercised by the Jesuit Jon Sobrino.” But, it is not true that Sobrino had such influence on the homilies of Archbishop Romero. Sobrino helped write a pastoral letter and one speech for Romero, but Romero’s homilies were written by the archbishop himself after consulting with a small group of advisers, which did not usually include Sobrino.