Friday, October 17, 2014

Montini’s Embrace

The last time Archbishop Óscar A. Romero met with the newly Blessed Paul VI, the weary Pontiff’s words were a balm to the suffering Salvadoran martyr:

I understand your difficult work. It is a work that can be misunderstood … I already know that not everyone thinks like you do … Nevertheless, proceed with courage, with patience, with strength, with hope ...

It was June 21, 1978 and Pope Paul would be dead within two months: on August 6, 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Salvadoran patronal celebration, as Romero was happy to remember.  The Pope stretched out his hands with the warmth and the strength of one who supports all the Pastors and the whole Universal Church,” Romero told his flock. Paul’s consolation, Romero wrote in his Diary, “gave me the satisfaction of a confirmation of my faith, of my service, of my joy in working and suffering with Christ, for the Church and for our people.”

Montini's photo on top of Romero's bedside dresser.

Two years later, Romero would be dead also, but could things have been different?  Msgr. Orlando Cabrera, the Bishop of Santiago de Maria in El Salvador, where Romero had been bishop, posits that if Paul had lived, he would have raised Romero to the College of Cardinals, perhaps forcing a different outcome ...
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