"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Wednesday, March 24, 2004 From a not-unsympathetic review by a Paulist priest of the 1989 film Romero:
"Every single statement in the film in favor of the free market - of the aspirations of the Salvadoran people to North American living standards, of the role of the entrepreneur as a producer who brings capital into the country for its overall benefit - is articulated by the most sinister, cynical, and bloodthirsty characters in the film. Thus, solidarity with the poor comes to mean solidarity with socialist revolutionaries while the free enterprise of the North is axiomatically identified with the feudal interests of the South.
"And here is where the film, and liberation theology itself, is for me the most frustrating. After all, what would the actual liberation of the poor from unjust social and economic structures mean if not a generally prosperous economy and a large middle class? And where do such societies exist if not in North America and those areas of the world that emulate its basically, though inconsistent, free-market arrangements? How is it that when Romero (correctly) opposes repression in Salvador he is cheered as a prophet by the popular culture but when a John Paul II opposes it in Sandinista Nicaragua he is characterized as a reactionary?
"The real liberation of Salvador is not advanced by a romanticized view of self-identified Marxist guerrillas, or, for that matter, priests who collaborate and sympathize with them.
"The film's gaping philosophical lacuna is seen when Romero reprimands one of gun-toting priests. The priest defends himself by saying, 'I'm a priest who sees Marxists and Christians struggling to liberate the same people.' The archbishop replies, 'You lose God just as they have.'
"My concern here is not the use of violence per se in response to longstanding oppression. Such force can be a moral imperative under certain circumstances and with specific preconditions. No, my problem is much less with the tactic than with where groups like the FMLN want to take Salvador. Marxists haven't lost God because they use violence to liberate people, but because they use violence to enslave people."