One way or another, lots of good people, even journalists, are obsessed a bit with the conflation of “Pope Francis” and “Left.” Perhaps understandable, as the rose-colored era of 1978-2013 provided not so much a broad effort to gathering in the sheep as it may have attempted some advance goat-separation. Given the tragic witness of a number of conservative prelates in the past few decades, we can probably declare that experiment dead. Better to leave it to the Last Judge.
When my wife asked me on white smoke day if Cardinal Bergoglio was a conservative or a liberal, I replied truthfully. “Better. He’s a Jesuit.”
The Catholic Herald, which still lives mostly in the rose-colored era, linked this editorial from The Guardian:
In the fierce and sometimes savage and bloody class warfare waged throughout Latin America both sides took theological comfort from Christianity. The right saw its opponents as godless communists, which many were; the left heard the direct command of Jesus to live with the poor and outcast. The Vatican came down firmly on the side of the oppressors.
It’s undeniable. Was St John Paul right to be concerned about communism? He lived under it for half his adult life. When does prudent concern cross the line into obsession and imbalance?
How to interpret the cause of Oscar Romero, the santo subito martyr of El Salvador? Giving succor to the enemy? Giving inspiration to the oppressed? At any rate, the cause is “unblocked,” and there’s comment at the Daily Beast about it.
John Paul and Benedict both detested that current (the “theology of liberation”) in the church, seeing it as a front for politics, not faith. As Benedict told reporters in 2007, “the problem was that a political party wanted to take [Romero] for itself as a flag, as an emblematic figure.” Benedict conceded this was “unjust,” but “for reasons of prudence,” it was said, Romero’s beatification was put on hold.
Perhaps it was prudence. It may well have been something more profane. Simple human blindness to virtue. At worst, a jealousy. At best, a refusal to perceive more deeply past the human labels we place on people in a very human way.
Even a “good” Catholic country with a “good” hierarchy approved by “good” popes can produce a very bad apple. If nothing else, it reminds us all that sin is quite pervasive, regardless of any human campaign to maximize virtue by a particular definition.