Sunday, 22 June 2008
An amazing day again, combining the tragic side of El Salvador's history with the festive. We started the day at the cathedral in San Salvador, in the crypt below the main sanctuary for a "people's mass." We got there early enough to see Romero's tomb, over which is a huge bronze representation of him lying in state. There are multiple bishops and archbishops buried there in the cathedral basement, but Romero occupies center stage; athough it seems that the current bishop there is resisting the canonization process for Romero, he is definitely already a saint by popular acclaim in the minds of a sizeable part of El Salvador's population. The standard concept of martyrdom for a long time has been that a person dies for his or her faith, but what happens when someone is killed by another person who in theory comes from the same faith tradition? Some people argue that Romero was killed because of his political involvements rather than because of the faith, but I genuinely don't understand how his political concerns can be separated from the implications of the gospel for politics and economics. Vatican II itself says that the Church's sole concern is that the reign of God come, and if the reign of God includes, at a minimum, the will of God being accomplished for the well-being and peace of humanity, then the faith, the Church, is inevitably tied up with the social order.
But I digress...After the mass, which lasted a couple of hours and was presided over by a priest who had worked with Romero, we headed out to a town (can't remember the name right now, it's in my notes somewhere) that was having a cultural festival this weekend. We feasted on shrimp and chocolate-covered strawberries and so on, and the students took the opportunity to look at the usual spate of knickknacks that were being sold. A couple of the more fearless students rented horse rides while the rest of them shopped.
Joe Cistone, the CEO of International Partners in Mission, joined us this morning, and he will be with us for the rest of our time in El Salvador. What an interesting guy -- lived in Rome for 7 years or so, ran a refugee center, now spends half his year traveling all over the world -- Africa, Asia, South America -- with groups like ours. Not a bad job if you can get it (although he says he has caught just about every tropical disease out there in his travels!).
(*NOTE*) I'm still in Klagetoh as I write this, and I spent the day on the Hopi reservation, which is actually landlocked by the Navajo Nation. I spend most of my time on two of the three primary mesas, fittingly enough named First Mesa and Second Mesa. The silence, the view, everything was just amazing. The Hopis don't let people take photographs or video within their reservation, so even when I get back to non-dialup Internet access I won't be able to post any pictures, but take my word, it took my breath away.