Saturday, May 23, 2015

Archbishop Romero's Beatification: Watching from Afar, Feeling Near

Surrounded by photos of some of the 75,000 persons who died in the war.

Images of the crowd of faithful in San Salvador come across my computer screen where I watch from half a world away, in Europe. White hats against the sun, home-made signs, umbrellas in bright colors for a little shade.  I am sad not to be present in El Salvador, where I spent many years, but join in the alegria, the joy.  I am part of the global crowd participating virtually in churches, schools and like here, hotel rooms, wanting to connect with the event that recognizes the man who stood up for justice, and was murdered for giving his voice to the voiceless.
House wall. Cinquera. The legend reads: "Sooner or later the voice of justice of our people will overcome."

It disgusts me to know members of the hierarchy who have blocked justice in the case of Mons. Romero's murder are present in their clerical robes. But no glory rubs off on them in honoring the martyr. (See my Los Angeles Times story from last year when the beatification was announced: Sainthood Isn't Enough for Archbishop Oscar Romero

Girl at commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the killing.
More important is to see the glowing, intent faces of ordinary-looking Salvadorans who may feel, justifiably, that they and their suffering are honored too, in the church event.  Of course, the people have canonized Mons. Romero long ago.  As often happens, the official Church takes time to catch up with the faithful.
San Salvador. Central Market. 2011.

As I watch and listen, I dig out some photos from the files on this same computer, and realize they tell me as much or more about Mons. Romero than any ceremony, about how he is carried in the hearts of people who may or may not be able to reach the front of the crowd today.

Shop. Perquin

The Archbishop's Human Rights Legal Aid Office risked investigating massacres like the one at El Mozote, where  800 died at the hands of the government army.  Wall painting. Canton La Joya

Five of this man's children were killed fighting on the side of revolutionaries during the war.
"If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people."---Mons. Romero