Romero and McAleese: Rebels on right side of history

On Wednesday the Vatican announced that five people — four men and one woman — having been credited with the requisite number of miracles, are to be canonised. One is Pope Paul VI and another is the murdered archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero, who was shot by a right-wing death squad sniper while celebrating a hospital Mass in March, 1980.

Recapturing the past is a necessity for so many organisations, religious and/or political if they are to rebrand themselves to satisfy contemporary needs. Despite that, the contrast between how the Catholic Church regards Romero today and the Church criticism levelled at him while he was alive is startling. That continues to this day and drove the

relentless efforts by conservatives to block his canonisation because of his commitment to liberation theology. They, however, were outflanked once Pope Francis was elected.

Just yesterday in Rome another committed Catholic who refuses to be silenced — former President Mary McAleese — excoriated Catholicism for its attitude to women and gay people. Speaking at an event to mark International Women’s Day she described Vatican opposition to women priests as “misogynist codology dressed up as theology”. Just like Romero, she prefers to be on the right side of history rather than on the right side of a constructed dogma. The only question is how long will it be before McAleese’s ideas prevail and how long will it be before reintegrated like Romero has been.

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