Pope Francis Honors Óscar Romero, Salvadoran Archbishop, as Martyr!

Archbishop Óscar Romero timeline

Archbishop Oscar Romero (Communist sympathizer) is favored by Pope Francis. Pope said he was hoping for a swift beatification process. “For me Romero is a man of God,” the pontiff told journalists on the plane bringing him back from a trip to South Korea. “There are no doctrinal problems and it is very important that [the beatification] is done quickly!” – August 18, 2014

ROME — Pope Francis has formally ratified the martyrdom of the Salvadoran archbishop Óscar Romero, who was shot to death at the altar as he was saying Mass in 1980 in an act of “hatred for the faith,” the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The step opens the way for Archbishop Romero to be beatified — a process that had been blocked under Francis’s predecessors, Vatican watchers say, because of the archbishop’s leftist political stances.

The archbishop, a man of the poor who often denounced social disparities, violence and repression in his own country and throughout Latin America, remains much beloved among Catholics in the region, and Francis, the first Latin American pope, has been outspoken in his appreciation of the archbishop.

At the beginning of the civil war in El Salvador, Archbishop Romero angered the country’s right-wing military government by calling on soldiers to disobey orders to murder political opponents. He also wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter pleading with him to cut off American military aid to El Salvador. The archbishop was killed by a right-wing death squad.

According to a 1993 United Nations commission, the murder was planned by former members of the security forces who had ties to Roberto D’Aubuisson, the former army major who founded the Nationalist Republican Alliance party, known as Arena. The party ruled El Salvador from 1989 until 2009.

The Vatican began considering Archbishop Romero for beatification in 1997, but his cause made little progress during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI because of his perceived association with liberation theology, Vatican watchers said. That movement, popular among some Catholic clergy in Latin America, called for the church to work for the social and economic liberation of the poor; some conservatives in the church rejected it as akin to communism.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the chief advocate for Archbishop Romero’s cause, acknowledged in a telephone interview on Tuesday that Archbishop Romero had been viewed by many over the years as a “bishop of the revolutionary left, of the Marxist culture.”

But “meticulous research erased all doubts and prejudices that many had within the church and in El Salvador,” Archbishop Paglia said, and “it was clear to us that killing a priest on the altar is a message for the whole church, a political message against a religious man.”

Archbishop Romero’s message stemmed directly from the Bible, he said, and “today Romero is an enormous help to Francis’s vision of the church — their voices sound like one, a poor church for the poor.”

Pope Francis unblocked Archbishop Romero’s cause in 2013, immediately after he succeeded Benedict, and he has spoken admiringly of the archbishop since then. In a general hearing in early January, Francis quoted one of Archbishop Romero’s last speeches, saying: “Giving life doesn’t only mean to be killed. Giving life, having the martyr’s spirit, means giving while doing our duty, in silence, in prayer, while we honestly fulfill our duty.”

Other Christian denominations have already honored Archbishop Romero; Lutherans celebrate him as a saint on the anniversary of his death, March 24, and Anglicans consider him a martyr.

Source: New York Times

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