The possibility of granting sainthood to the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador became more of a reality over the weekend.
According to comments made by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Pope Francis has reportedly given his approval for the beatification process for Romero to move forward.
“Today ... the beatification cause of Monsignor Romero has been unblocked; tomorrow I can resume saying that these martyrs help us to live,” said Paglia who is described as the “Italian prelate spearheading Romero's case.”
Paglia’s remarks came at a Mass to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of another candidate for sainthood: ex-president of the Pax Christi organization Bishop Tonino Bello. Paglia’s words also came one day after he met with the Argentine-born pontiff to discuss the Bello and Romero cases.
Romero was assassinated in 1980 as he finished a mass where he criticized government repression and denounced human rights abuses. His vocal defense of El Salvador’s poor and oppressed rankled the country’s political and economic elite, and it’s believed that right-wing death squad commander Roberto D’Aubuisson ordered Romero’s murder.
The assassination of Romero marked the start of a bloody twelve-year civil war that left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.
Romero is viewed as a martyr among Salvadorans though the process for beatifying Romero was held up for years by the Vatican's opposition to liberation theology. Nevertheless, the election last month of the first Latin American Pope provided hope for members of the Salvadoran clergy supporting the push for Romero’s sainthood:
Msgr. Jesus Delgado told reporters that in 2007 he spoke with Bergoglio, who told him that if he were the pope, the beatification and canonization of the slain archbishop would the first thing he would pursue.
In another meeting in 2010, Delgado said Bergoglio recalled what he said about Romero in 2007, but said the problem was that he would never become pope.
When Bergoglio was elected pope, Delgado told local media it was "a wonderful surprise" and that he thought it was time Romero became a saint.Years before becoming pontiff, then-Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Maria Bergoglio advocated granting sainthood to a group of Argentine clergy killed as part of a 1976 “Dirty War” crackdown on “subversives.”
Video Source– YouTube via user interestmedia
Online Sources – Huffington Post; National Catholic Reporter; USA TODAY; LAHT