ustxtxb_obs_1993_12_10_50_00003-00000_000.pdf

Page 17

by

T HE TEXAS server DECEMBER 10, 1993 VOLUME 85, No. 24 FEATURES JFK: The Great Schism By James Cullen 4 So Far from God By John Ross 8 DEPARTMENTS Editorials The Executioner’s Hand Two Bishops 2-4 Books and the Culture Virgin Appears Book review by Pat LittleDog 1 0 Shadow Boxing Book Review by Joe Holley 1 1 Under the Volcano Book review by Robert Kahn 13 After the Revolutions Book review by Miriam Lizcano 14 Romancing the Stone Book review by E.A. Mares 15 Heart and Seoul Book review by Louis Dubose 16 A Dozen Texas Disks Music reviews by John Conquest 17 Penal Envy Movie review by Steven G. Kellman 18 Lone Star Bibliography Compiled by James Cullen 19 Political Intelligence 24 Cover art by Michael Alexander glIkN THE FIRST Sunday of Lent in 1984 Ai/Bishop Samuel Ruiz celebrated Mass in the seat of his diocese in Chiapas. As the homily began, stray dogs wandered the aisles, birds flew over the heads of the congregants and the Bishop’s voice resonated through the 300-year-old Cathedral of San Cristobal de las Casas: “Despues de haber creado el cielo he began, quoting from his first reading. “We all know that God has no hands,” he said, referring to the line of scripture which told of God’s taking the earth into his hands and from it creating man. He continued, saying that although it is written that with his breath God blew life into man, we also know that God has no breath, that the God referred to in Genesis 2:7-9 is a spirit, a force of creation. By 1984 the Catholic Church had long since left me after the reactionaries who had been waiting in the wings until John XXIII died had seized power and began to beat back the progress started in Rome by the Second Vatican Council and advanced in this hemisphere by Latin American prelates meeting at Medellin, Colombia, in 1968. But by the time Bishop Ruiz began to discuss the day’s Gospel reading Matthew’s account of the Temptation of Christ I understood that I had happened upon one of those rare redoubts of reason and grace that remained within the Church. When, by. Matthew’s account, Christ refused to command the angels to carry him out of the desert, it was not only to teach his tormentor that “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God,” but to underscore the importance of restraint that power should never be used for the wrong purposes. When Christ refused the temptation of worldly wealth, it was to illustrate that wealth, too, can be improperly used, particularly, it seemed, when it fails to provide “a preferential option for the poor.” On the following day, in his office, Bishop Ruiz discussed the issue I had come to Chiapas to report on for the Jesuit magazine America: the 100,000 Guatemalan “border refugees” who had fled their country’s army and thrown themselves on the mercy of the Mexican government and people. At the time, 42,400 refugees lived in the Diocese of Chiapas and Don Samuel was obstructing his secular government’s efforts to repatriate them, or to move them to camps farther from the border, some as far away as the Mexican state of Tabasco. “The camps here include communities,” Bishop Ruiz said, “some, complete communities that fled when they saw the destruction coming, others, the remains of corn munities that were massacred, where the majority are children. There are heads of families with 20 or 30 children who are not . theirs but are of the community.” He then began to teach a lesson grounded in an anthropology as enlightened as the theology that had informed his previous day’s homily. The indigenous communities, he explained, have very delicate social structures and those structures are completely dependent upon groups staying together. Refugees emigrated from Guatemala as communities, he said, and it is only as communities that they would survive. “There is no such thing as an orphan in an indigenous community,” the Bishop explained. When a child loses its mother or father, that child belongs to the community. There are, he added, many other vital social structures, and if the Mexican government doesn’t respect the “caracter comunitario” of the Indian, particularly while 100,000 Guatemalans struggled to stay alive in the most difficult exile imaginable, the consequences would. be disastrous. Irhen, in an odd digression, Samuel Ruiz began to talk about the Pope’s 1983 visit to Mexico. The press, he contended, had gotten it all wrong. They found the story they were looking for: A Pontiff who came to the Americas to impose discipline rather than to listen. Had reporters paid careful attention to what was .actually said, they would have framed the story differently. John Paul II was not the heavy many in the press portrayed him to be. As the interview continued, it became obvious that Samuel Ruiz was attempting to reconcile his love for his congregation with his respect for authority of the Papacy. There need not be a choice between one or the other, he seemed to be saying, and this Pope had not come to the Americas to ask Latin American Bishops to make such a choice. Almost 10 years after that interview, John Paul II is not only demanding that that choice be made, but for Samuel Ruiz he is making ing for the resignation of Bishop Ruiz, the Pope will further advance the conservative agenda resolutely pursued by himself and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who has presided over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith an ecclesiastical body established in another age to implement the Inquisition. If this Pope, who silenced Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, then remained silent after the Salvadoran government assassinated six Jesuits \(the Vatican’s only official act was to send one telegram of condolences to the director general of the paign to oust Bishop Ruiz, he will have left a very poor country with a very diminished “preferential option for the poor.” Stand the Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Chiapas shoulder to shoulder and ask yourself which man comes closest to the impossible ideal of “living the Christ.” Then watch carefully to see who prevails in a struggle that will further define where the Roman Catholic Church itself stands 15 years after the process of Apostolic Succession delivered it into the strong hands of Polish Prelate Karol Woytyla. L.D. Two Bishops THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3