Friday, May 11, 2018

Romero canonization: the last week of speculation


Year to date air travel prices from New York to Rome.
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Within a week of the consistory that will fix the place and date of the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero, many wonder why the rampant speculation on the subject, e.g., various articles in the press stating contradicting facts. But for others—those intending to attend the ceremony—it is not just pointless and idle speculation, but the quest for the information necessary to finalize their plans. For them, it is important to start investigating options and any information, even conjecture, can be used for early vetting different contingencies.
Rhina Guidos, a Salvadoran who works with Catholic News Services in Washington, DC, says she has used information published in this blog about the possible scenarios to investigate in advance the feasibility of different options. Guidos says she used the information “to block out vacation time and to start looking at estimates for plane tickets, lodging and to make contingency plans with friends in different countries.” Tourism experts advise planning international travel six months in advance, and the lapse between the consistory on May 19, and the projected dates for the ceremony in mid-October leaves barely five months to make the necessary arrangements.
The problem is aggravated in a case where, as here, thousands of people will find out the details at the same time, and make a mad dash to book flights and hotels on the same dates. Of the other five saints to be approved in the consistory, three are Italian, one is Spanish and the last is German. Romero’s devotees will be traveling the greatest distance to get there.  Notably, in Romero’s case, it is not settled whether the ceremony will be in Rome or in El Salvador; in October or next January.
The delay in announcing the date for the canonization of the Blessed Oscar Romero is increasingly a problem for those of us at the Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House,” says Bob Waldrop, the director of that institution in Oklahoma City. Waldrop points to the rising trend in airplane ticket prices (see illustration). “Already air fares have increased by $100/per person since we first began checking as soon as the canonization was announced,” says Waldrop. “For us, that is not an insignificant amount of money,” adding that “if the canonization were to be in El Salvador, that would actually save us money since we would be able to journey to El Salvador by bus and train, at a savings of a significant amount over round trip air fares to Europe.”
The wait is also causing anxiety for some who are not making an intercontinental trip. “We are on the edge of our seats waiting for the announcement,” says Julian Filochowski, director of the Romero Trust in London, two hours from Rome by plane. Filochowski’s institution will take pilgrims to Rome. “Once the date is no longer guesswork, we need to speedily alert our network electronically to see how many plan to travel out from London,” says Filochowski. “We then must try to secure sufficient tickets for the ceremony in St Peter’s Square for those tempted to take the plunge, as security will be very tight indeed.  We will try too to link people to hotels and religious houses where they might stay for the Saturday night and probably the Sunday too.” There could be hundreds of contacts and conversations, possibly investigating and following up according to the tastes of each traveler.
This is our first official saint, something many of us never imagined we’d see,” says Rhina Guidos. “There can’t be enough planning.”
Filochowski shares the enthusiasm: “It will be wonderful if Paul VI is canonized in the same ceremony.” But also the anxiety: “But then the crowds will be even greater”.
In a week, the speculation will be over.

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