Monday, May 02, 2016

This blog turns 10 years old


#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy
In the run-up to the beatification of Archbishop Romero last year, Catholic News Service wanted to send a photographer to take a picture of me working on my blog.  But almost nothing of what I do is particularly photogenic.  On a typical day, my work begins as soon as I wake up.  I check about a dozen web sites on my smartphone while still lying in bed in my pajamas.  During my lunch break at work, I might sit at the nearby mall food court, outlining a blog post or making a list of future story ideas.  At the end of the day—usually, late at night—I’ll sit in my home office translating (I typically post in three languages) after my family’s gone off to bed. My work is invisible—few of my colleagues even know that I am “Polycarpio,” the Romero blogger.

The contrast between the growth in interest in the blog and the low-key business of putting it together is the story of this site: “the previously obscure blog that has been getting a lot of attention lately,” said Barry Hudock, writing in Our Sunday Visitor.  Last year, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano republished one of my articles, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator of Romero’s cause, tweeted a shout-out to “one who has worked so effectively for the cause of Bl. Oscar Romero.”
But such recognition was not always the order of the day.  I initially made this blog as a break-out space from another project, an online discussion group called “San Romero.”  I was the founder of that group, but I was catching flack for my posts, which were considered too esoteric because of their narrow focus on the official canonization cause.  Romero had “already been canonized by the people,” so the institutional process was of no import, Romero’s activist supporters would tell me.
I felt otherwise and I started writing here, exclusively about Romero’s beatification process.  I did not just want to repost social justice “spam” (pardon the expression) or build a Romero-themed soapbox to editorialize about past and present wrongs.  Those things need to be done, but others were doing them well, and I felt that promoting the canonization cause also needed to be done but no one was doing that online.  Over these ten years on the blog, the times have changed and so has the blog’s reason for being.  Initially envisioned as a cheer section to urge the Church to beatify Romero, the blog later sought to correct perceived misinterpretations of Romero in popular culture, and more recently has relished digging up previously unknown facts in free-lance investigations.
Along the way, a few ideas have predominated:
  • Romero-centrism”—that, because Romero was a Catholic whose motto was “Sentir Con La Iglesia” (To Be Of One Heart And One Mind With The Church), he should be measured by a Catholic standard, and therefore by the Church’s internal process (this counters the argument that the canonization cause is unnecessary or irrelevant).
  • Gradual conversion”—that, rather than a sudden, overnight “conversion” that led him to advocate for the poor, Romero opened his eyes slowly—like the Blind Man of Bethsaida (cf. Mark 8:22-26), said the late Mgr. Ricardo Urioste.
  • Transfiguration Theology”—that rather than straight Liberation Theology, Romero’s views were informed by the local ecclesiology and eschatology, largely influenced by the Gospel episode which marks El Salvador’s patronal feast (the Transfiguration).
Along the way, I have been helped by many and I wish to personally name a few of them in the following, final paragraph.  When I was interviewed by Rhina Guidos of CNS last year, she asked me what had most surprised me from my experience as a Romero blogger and I told her in all sincerity that I was surprised that, given the divisions around Romero and the often competing visions of the Church that people have, everyone had been nothing but supportive of my efforts and, often, very generously so.  Their support has included giving me leads, tips, information, forwarding posts, republishing posts, allowing me to guest-post in their web sites, and generally helping me increase the blog’s visibility.  To them, to you, to Blessed Romero and to God, I say ¡Muchas gracias!
Special thanks to: Julian Filochowski and the Archbishop Romero Trust; Tim of Tim’s El Salvador Blog; Duane Arnold & Michael Bell of The Project; Paulita Pike and Jorge Bustamante of Cultura Romeriana; Alver Metalli, of Terre d’America and Vatican Insider; Luis Badilla and Il Sismografo; Tito Edwards of Big Pulpit; the National Catholic Register; the Catholic Herald; Mgr. Rafael Urrutia; Archbishop Paglia and Archbishop Escobar; Prof. Roberto Morozzo della Rocca; Daily Theology; Connie Rossini and the Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network; Kevin Tierney and Catholic Lane; Karee Santos; Rhina Guidos; Duane Krohnke; Mike Allison; Gene Palumbo; Rocco Palmo; Eleuterio Fernández Guzmán; and friends at Acción Litúrgica.

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