BY STEFAN GIGACZ
Drawing on files published by Wikileaks, Daniek Kovalik at Counterpunch warns that US government agencies are still suspicious (or worse) of liberation theology, with embassy operatives citing as evidence the case of a San Salvador bishop who "wants to be with the weak and the poor":
February 27, 2009, and the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador is wringing its hands again over a new and “More Outspoken Archbishop” who the Embassy suspects of having Liberation Theology sympathies. Thus, the cable contains an entire section about the new Archbishop which reads, “SYMPATHETIC BUT NOT WEDDED TO LIBERATION THEOLOGY.” As the Embassy explains, Archbishop “Escobar’s public statements suggest that he may hold views close to liberation theology, a movement in the Catholic Church that emphasized liberating the poor and oppressed and led some adherents to support revolutionary activity in Latin American including the FMLN’s insurgency (1980-1992)” – an insurgency, of course, which the U.S. vigorously opposed through its support of the repressive military forces in El Salvador which crushed the insurgency and killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the process.
As this cable explains, some of the statements which Archbishop Escobar has made which make the U.S. suspicious of his sympathy for Liberation Theology are his pronouncements against mining operations in El Salvador, including the mining of Pacific Rim – a “Canadian company with U.S. investors” as the cable explains. Also betraying his Liberation Theology sympathies, the cable explains, is the fact that “in his first homily, Escobar asserted that he wants to be with the weak and poor because that is the Church’s duty and called for priority to be given to the ministering to the poor.” The cable goes on to say that “Escobar also professed . . . to admire Father Ignacio Ellacuria, a Jesuit priest and contributor to liberation theology, who was murdered by the Salvadoran Forces in 1989, and Bishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was assassinated by death squads in 1981 [sic.].” Again, the new Archbishop’s loyalty to these slain religious makes him suspect in terms of his true loyalties.
As Kovalik also points out, Archbishop Escobar's predecessor, the famed Archbishop Oscar Romero, whom the Embassy refers to simply as the "former archbishop", was in fact "murdered by forces trained, funded and armed by the U.S."
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Today will evidently be the last opportunity to hear from our tweeting cardinals until after the white smoke has billowed from the Sistine Chapel.
As I feared, one of the list of twelve Twitter cardinals I mentioned last week has proved to be a fake, namely the account in the name of Cardinal Antonio Tagle.
On the other hand, bloggers have ben hard at work compiling more extensive lists ot tweeting cardinals with Dutch priest Fr Roderick Vonhogen publishing what now seems to be a complete current list of nearly twenty here.
And British priest Fr James Hadley of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has compiled them into a Twitter list.
To get even further into the spirit of the conclave, here, courtesy of Alessandro Speciale, is an excellent Google map showing where all the papal action will be happening over the next few days.
Visualizza Conclave 2.0 in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori
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Coming back to the Australian context, I thought that it could also be interesting to check who among our own prelates are active on Twitter.
And so we have:
Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Peter Comensoli: @BishopComensoli
Parramatta Bishop Anthony Fisher OP: @AnthonyFisherOP
Bathurst Bishop Michael McKenna: @BishopBathurst
Archbishop Mark Coleridge also has an almost inactive account: @ArchbishopMark
A little disappointingly, that seems to be pretty much it although the ACBC also has a collective account of its own: @ACBC1
Check out their latest thoughts here: https://twitter.com/cnresearch/aussie-bishops
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In a tribute to the women in his own family, Holy Irritant Tony Robertson recalled this week that it was many years before he connected his own 8 March baptism day with International Women's Day:
My mother's family were typical Catholics of their era. My grandmother saw three of her children marry Catholics and her youngest daughter join a religious congregation, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. From my grandmother and my mother I learnt much of the tribal loyalty that was a feature of Irish Catholicism.
My mother who died last August was an amazing woman of faith who took on the challenges of a new era with the tribal loyalty she inherited. Her association with the FMMs and the Columbans opened her eyes to the world of justice making as a constituent element of her faith.
Her bookshelf included titles by Henri Nouwen, Sheila Cassidy, and Joyce Rupp.
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Blessed Maria, whose baptismal name was Elena Kafka, was “a courageous and strong woman. As a nurse in a hospital in Austria, she opposed the anti-religious measures of the Nazis and defended the weak and the sick, speaking of peace and democracy.”
Blessed Maria opposed Nazi efforts to remove all crucifixes and replace them with the swastika. She also promoted the “soldier’s song,” which contained a message about peace and democracy in Austria.
After being denounced to the Nazi secret police by a doctor, she was imprisoned, condemned to death and beheaded in Vienna at the age of 49, together with a group of Communist operatives she accompanied during the final moments of her life.
One of her companions in prison remarked, “She was a saint because she encouraged everyone in that situation, she conveyed strengthened and a positive and confident spirit.”
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Finally, coming back to the conclave in a broader sense, Daniel Ang shares some thoughts on the role of the Holy Spirit in a Church with a mixed and sometimes tumultuous history:
The issue is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life and renewal of the Church. Of course, following Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication, it is the Spirit’s guidance of the Church in the election of a new pontiff that is at the heart of our prayer at present and for good reason.
What we can draw from this mixed history and the necessity of the Spirit’s discernment is that the gift of the Spirit – in all of its ‘elasticity’ as Cardinal Ratzinger puts it – does not so overwhelm the Christian that it alleviates or excuses them of the responsibility to evaluate, reflect and decide in faith but rather invites and even necessitates their active participation in that process of decision. This much is clear from the story of the primitive Church as described above (to open the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles or to restrict proclamation of the Messiah to the House of Israel?)
In other words, the gift of the Spirit needs to be actively and constantly received by the community of the Church as it pilgrims through history, a ‘reception’ that involves the activities of listening, understanding, applying, and so truly ‘making one’s own’ the Spirit of faith and grace so that the community can be faithful to the person and message of Jesus.
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