Thursday, 28 October 2010

Pope Paul VI Lecture 2010

A few years ago, I went to CAFOD'S Paul VI Memorial Lecture when the lecturer was a lady called Maria Lopez Vigil. She had been a collaborator with Archbishop Oscar Romero and, at the time of the lecture, had just published a book Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic. The book is a collection of people's memories of Archbishop Romero. I went because I was interested in meeting someone who had worked with Archbishop Romero and would be able to communicate something of the man - not that I had any intention of speaking to her individually but that, when you hear someone speaking in person, you gain a sense of them as a person as well as a sense of their thought.

Maria Lopez does recognise in the introduction to her book that Archbishop Romero experienced a "conversion" as he took up his office as Archbishop of San Salvador; but my memory of her talk is that she did not present this "conversion" as a change from being an arch-conservative (in both ecclesiological and political terms) to an arch-liberal (again in both ecclesiological and political terms), a way in which he is often presented but which, in my view, has no basis in Archbishop Romero's own writings. I found it a very interesting occasion, and was very pleased to have attended.

In a similar way, when I learnt that the 2010 Paul VI Memorial Lecture would be given by a speaker who is Secretary General of Pax Christi International and a former Prime Minister of Haiti, my interest was caught. I am looking forward to an "encounter" with someone who has held political and public office and, as she has done so, has tried to put her faith into practice. Claudette Werleigh's CV can be found on Pax Christi International's website. I am expecting that, whatever one might think of CAFOD, this will be an interesting evening.

It is interesting to explore the Pax Christi International website, perhaps particularly the page which tells the history of the movement. Pax Christi has an authentically Catholic charism, which can be seen both in its original inspiration in France in the wake of the Second World War and in its recognition within the Catholic Church. Those of a more conservative mind might not be comfortable with the charism of Pax Christi, and might feel that some of its personalities have not always been faithful to the Church's life. But this should not detract from the fact that Pax Christi does have an authentic charism in the Church.

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