5/25/2015—It is a mark of the richness of the Roman Catholic Church that two men who have recently been beatified, and one now a saint, had conflicts with each other when they lived. I’m speaking of Archbishop Oscar Romero and John Paul II.
I am no expert in these matters. The story of the Pope’s concern about communism and Marxism in Central and South America leading him to blindness concerning the death squads and oppression in some of these countries, notably El Salvador, where Archbishop Romero was murdered, is well known. On the other hand, there are those who argue that the story is largely a myth. You could look at Filip Mazurczak’s piece from February 2015 to see this other side.
I am most interested, however, not in the conflict, but in how the Church could respond so well to the needs of the time in these disparate areas of the globe. JP II was needed in Poland. His stance against the inhuman oppression of communism will stand forever in the annals of human rights.
But liberation theology and the stance of the Church with the poor against overwhelming economic and military power, symbolized by Romero, was also needed then and is needed today in the face of global capitalism. The Church is able to respond to both. Can this be said of any other institution in the world today?
This brings me to Ireland. The media is reporting the very welcome news of Ireland’s endorsement of gay marriage as a defeat for the Church. And I suppose you could say that. The Church spends a lot of time and effort opposing gay marriage.
But the stories only obliquely refer to the illegality of abortion in Ireland. This matter, a crucial matter, a matter of life and death apparently finds no similar cultural change. Perhaps it is not a decline of the Church. Perhaps the Church is simply wrong about gay marriage.