- Dec 9, 2019
Despite the stereotypical American conceit that the world revolves around us, Pope Francis almost certainly wasn’t thinking of Donald Trump when he named five new cardinals on Sunday, just ahead of his meeting today with the U.S. President. Still, the timing is arresting: Just ahead of receiving the de facto leader of the center, the pontiff made a powerful statement about the peripheries.
A major assembly of bishops from the 22 member nations of Latin America’s council, CELAM, opens today in El Salvador. The shadow of Blessed Oscar Romero, the slain archbishop set to be canonized soon, hangs over the meeting — along with a strong sense that this is a favorable time for the continent.
Is the juxtaposition of “the new martyrs” vs. “the old martyrs” in the Church really fair? It suggests that while martyrs used to be killed for hatred of the faith, they now die for “odium amoris” and other formulations of the canon law requirements for martyrdom. It may simply be that the “New Martyrs” seem “new” to us because of the novelty that their martyrdoms happened in the cultural context of our modern times.
Pope Francis will visit the Church of San Bartolomeo on Rome’s Tiber Island on Saturday in order to celebrate the memory of the Church’s contemporary martyrs. Although the total number of Christians killed each year for reasons linked to their faith is staggering, here’s a sampling of some of those who were killed in what St. John Paul II called ‘odium amoris,’ meaning ‘hatred of love.’
Pope Francis said, “that it would be very good if the places associated with Romero — his relics, the place where he was killed and where he was born — would become places of pilgrimage,” when speaking about Blessed Oscar Romero whose cause for canonization is being examined.
The assassination of Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande in 1977 is believed to have inspired Blessed Oscar Romero in his concern for the poor. Today Grande is inspiring another Salvadoran archbishop, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, who issued a pastoral letter March recognizing his country’s many martyrs.