The anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero has prompted a number of commemorative celebrations. Thinking Faith, the Jesuit on-line journal, has published a homily preached at a memorial Mass in St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh. The majority of the homily is a description of the situation in El Salvador, and of some of Archbishop Romero's action in response to it; it offers only brief reflection on the charism itself of Archbishop Romero. Welcome is the fact that the homily does not propagate the "sudden conversion" model of Archbishop Romero, an interpretation of his life that I do not think is justified. The homily does ask a pertinent question about the stance of Archbishop Romero's fellow bishops in El Salvador at the time, a question that it is quite legitimate to ask. And it suggests an unwelcome criticism of the attitude of the Holy See to liberation theology (one thing Archbishop Romero was not was an exponent of liberation theology!) and small Christian communities.
But unfortunately also, the lack, so far, of official Church recognition of Romero’s murder as truly a martyrdom causes sadness and dismay to many. The lack of progress towards beatification and canonisation is hard to fathom, but perhaps it is unimportant. Millions of ordinary people who, after all, are the Church and provide a sensus fidelium do not doubt that he is a saint.The recognition of Jerzy Popieluszko's death as a martyrdom is a clear precedent for Archbishop Romero's death to be similarly recognised. I do think that the progression of the cause for his canonisation is important - the devotion of the people is one of the components of evidence that can be used to support the cause, but it does not replace it as Bishop Taylor implies. Canonisation allows the liturgical cult of the person in the Church and manifests the glory of God in the world and for the good of the world. So I too am disappointed that there is said to be "lack of progress" in Archbishop Romero's cause. I am not sure that the cause is being prosecuted as effectively as it might; and I wonder, too, whether the dissenting stance of some of those who admire Archbishop Romero is a hindrance to his cause.
UPDATE: Bridges and Tangents gives an account of Archbishop Vincent Nichol's homily about Archbishop Romero - which appears to be a much better reflection on Archbishop Romero's charism.