October 8, 2016
So the prophets of the Catholic Church in Belize, Bishop Dorick Wright and Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Glancy, have been reined in, sadly by no other than Papal Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Léon Kalenga Badikebele. I wonder what Pope Francis has to say!
Prophets call out wrongdoers and speak out against social injustice, agitating for the care of the poor, the orphaned and the widows, to borrow words from the Christian Bible. The Catholic leadership of Belize saw and responded; they saw the injustices against the masses in the corruption in high places in Belize. They STOOD UP for the people — like true prophets.
No one would disagree with Archbishop Kalenga that the children of Belize should be back in school. His stance, however, comes across as at least myopic when he basically chastised the striking teachers (there are ‘other means’), who represent the voice of the masses, and weakened their position, at least in the eyes of the Prime Minister who will now not talk to them directly. Glaringly absent from the Archbishop’s pronouncements, certainly falling short of Church teaching and mission, was a public and pointed calling out of those in power to not play the people and, most importantly, for them to repent and correct their erring ways.
The sad irony is that the Apostolic Nuncio works out of El Salvador, the birth country of Archbishop Blessed Oscar Romero, martyred in 1980 in San Salvador for STANDING UP for those denied their human rights, STANDING UP for the poor and the marginalized. In life, his humanitarian work was recognized internationally; in death, he has been embraced by other Christian denominations, including the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, and is hailed as a champion of world democracy.
Archbishop Romero, trained as a carpenter by his father who believed that even with a formal education his son would have difficulties finding a job, conservative in thinking, had come full circle, having experienced true spiritual conversion. His priest friend, an activist for the poor, had been murdered. The Archbishop is quoted as saying, “When I looked at Rutillo lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path’”. Perhaps, like the great majority of us, Archbishop Kalenga needs such a defining moment — his own personal conversion.
To Christian Belize and its self-labeled Christian political and public figures who see themselves as the agents of change and transformation in Belize: Archbishop Romero preached that ‘the most profound social revolution is the serious, supernatural, interior reform of a Christian’.
Blessed Oscar, pray for us!