Two things caught my eye in the Church Times this week. The first was details about the Pope’s state visit to Scotland and England in September. Because the Queen has invited him we the taxpayer have to pay for this visit, although I note that the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and of Scotland would contribute towards the £15m cost of the visit. It doesn’t say how much they will contribute. £15million is a lot of money. And this does not include the cost of policing the visit which will have to be found from the police’s own budget. (Note that the cost of policing the G20 for one day was £19million and the Pope is visiting for 3 days.) That is a lot of pounds.
The second thing which caught my eye was the martrydom of Oscar Romero 30 years ago. Romero is the hero of many people and is hailed a saint by his native El Salvador. But not with the Roman Catholic church who did not like the message of liberation theology, of preference for the poor. This week his life, work and death will be celebrated across the world and services held in York Minster and Westminster Abbey (where there has been a statue of him above the Great West Door since 1998). But once upon a time there was a certain Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who was head of the Vatican’s doctrine watchdog, and he was a vehement opponent of the theology of liberation. He didn’t like bishops who wanted to sell their palaces and give the money to the poor. While we hail him as a hero the Roman CAtholic church have still not made him a saint. Why would that be?
We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.
Archbishop Oscar Romero, 24 December 1979