Heidi Schlumpf

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Like many Catholics, I applauded the news this week that Pope Francis had formally declared Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero a martyr, paving the way for his beatification, the final step before sainthood.

Romero was assassinated in 1980 by a right-wing death squad after preaching against the government's oppression and human rights violations -- what Catholics call "the preferential option for the poor". To me, Romero is already a saint, and I am lucky enough to have made a pilgrimage to San Salvador to see the chapel where he was slain while celebrating Mass and to his nearby living quarters, where his blood-stained clothes remain.…  Seguir leyendo »

The popular Pope Francis is taking some hits himself after some lighthearted comments that included a pretend punch to a colleague. The comments came while trying to make the point that free speech should have some limits, including on the right to insult another's faith.

Speaking Thursday to reporters on the plane ride to the Philippines, the Pope gestured with a fake punch to demonstrate what he would do if someone were to say "a swear word against my mother".

Most journalists interpreted it as a joke, not a justification of violence, especially since the Pope had also just forcefully stated that "one cannot kill in the name of God".…  Seguir leyendo »

After meeting Monday with six victims of sexual abuse by clergy members, Pope Francis apologized for the crimes committed against them and begged forgiveness "for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse".

Apologies are all well and good, but this one brings to mind two trite but true sayings: "Too little, too late" and "Actions speak louder than words". Unfortunately, Francis has more to do so that future popes won't have to keep saying "I'm sorry" for these crimes and the Catholic Church's cover-up.

This is not to downplay the important symbolism of public apologies from the church's top leader.…  Seguir leyendo »