When I was writing this yesterday I couldn’t find today’s Mass readings. So, forgive me for filling in with something else
We are all delighted with our new pope, and we wonder in what direction he will take us. For clues it might help to note that he has long been in favor with his fellow Latin American bishops.
Up to fifty years ago the bishops of central and south America had never come together as a group that looked after their common interests. Each of the thousand bishops down there strove to stay in good with Rome. But then they were given a good shaking by a number of French Theologions who had been through hard times and imprisonment under the Nazis. Outstanding among those were the Dominican, Father Yves Congar, and the Jesuit, Henri de Lebac.
Those two, had been silenced by Rome, but then Pope John XXIII summoned them to be the principal consulters for his Second Vatican Council. With encouragement from them, the bishops of Central and South America formed an organization they called CELAM, for Conference, Episcopal. Latin, America. CELAM often sided with underdogs who were being pushed around by governments with whom both America and the Vatican had been doing business.
In recent months Pope Francis showed favor to three prominent priests who had been out of favor with their governments and with Rome. They were the Maryknoll Father Miguel D’Escoto of Nicaragua, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, and the Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru..
On a 1985 visit to Nicaragua Pope John Paul II excommunicated Father D’Ecoto for siding with that Sandinistas government opposed my President Reagan and Major Oliver North. Pope Francis has now allowed Father D’Escoto to offer Mass for the first time in thirty years.
In 1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down while he was offering Mass, and the Vatican was saying he could not be called a martyr who died for the Faith since those gunmen were soldiers of a government tolerated by the U.S. and the Vatican. Francis says that is ridiculous, Archbishop Romero is a great martyr.
In 1979 Pope John Paul II at the Pueblo conference of CELAM condemned Liberation Theology as “godless Communism,” but Francis has recently called in Father Gustavo Gutierrez, the founder of Liberation Theology. The two just had a fine old chat.