JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
Upon reaching the 38th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero on the eve of his canonization, I would like to reflect on the two milestones. For some, the canonization process for Archbishop Romero was unduly and unjustly delayed. For others—no doubt, conservatives and traditionalist Catholics—there has been too much of a "rush" to raise him to the altars. In my opinion, this 38-year lapse shows that God's times are perfect.
On the one hand, 38 years has been long enough to mature an assessment of Romero that manages to vindicate him completely, especially against so many efforts to soil him and incriminate him with the whip of the tongue, as Pope Francis has said. On the other hand, the 38 years have also served to show us that the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero is still pertinent, appealing to the Church, to El Salvador, and to the entire world.
In the Church, the canonization of Romero is a redress, an act of contrition that puts an end to the arguments and debates that clouded the name of Romero for several decades. "Rome locuta" and "causa finita", the saying goes. But in siding with Romero, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is laying down a tremendous challenge to all those who opposed Romero, both in his life and after his death, and also to us who call ourselves his followers. Romero is an "uncomfortable saint," and his ascension to the altars must have consequences for anyone who calls himself Christian.
In El Salvador, Romero's canonization will cause a "gnashing of teeth" (Mat 8:12). The country must analyze what it means for the ARENA party to assume power precisely at the time that Romero has been proposed by the Church as a model human being, when the founders of the party pointed him out as the enemy of their project, so much so that they eliminated him based on that premise. The bishops of El Salvador will also have to reflect, when the Postulator of the Cause affirms that "there was a silence in the Salvadoran Church, as if they had abandoned him"; a "guilty silence in my view, by a part of the Salvadoran episcopate."
Meanwhile in the world, Romero is being accepted as an new Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of peace and nonviolence, who serves as an inspiration beyond confessional limits. However, prophets like Romero also pose a challenge to the selfish hedonism that satisfies all consumerist appetites and violently and aggressively exploits everything that is weak and unprotected, including life itself. Romero invites us to make a more human world.
These 38 years have not changed anything in the validity—or the urgency—of Romero. As on that March 24, 1980, his death continues to denounce and challenge; his blood is still fertile.