Remembering Archbishop Romero
Today is the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who is scheduled to be beatified next month.
According to an article from Catholic News Service:
Pope Francis formally recognized Feb. 3 that the slain Salvadoran archbishop was killed "in hatred of the faith" -- and not for purely political reasons.
While Archbishop Romero's sainthood cause began in 1993, it continued for years as church officials combed through thousands of documents related to his life. The effort began moving forward under Pope Benedict XVI. In May 2007, he said: "Archbishop Romero certainly was a great witness to the faith, a man of great Christian virtue."
The process advanced rapidly with the election of Pope Francis in 2013, the first Latin American pope in history. From the first moments of his papacy, he showed interest in declaring Archbishop Romero a saint.
Pope Francis signed the decree recognizing Archbishop Romero as a martyr, which meant there was no need to prove a miracle for his beatification. However, a miracle is ordinarily needed for canonization as saint.
Archbishop Romero, an outspoken advocate for the poor, was shot and killed March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in a hospital in San Salvador during his country's civil war. Archbishop Paglia [Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator or chief promoter of the archbishop's sainthood cause] said in early February that the two decades it took to obtain the decree were the result of "misunderstandings and preconceptions."
During Archbishop Romero's time as archbishop of San Salvador -- from 1977 to 1980 -- "kilos of letters against him arrived in Rome. The accusations were simple: He's political; he's a follower of liberation theology."
All of the complaints, Archbishop Paglia said in February, slowed the sainthood process.
However, promoters of the cause, he said, collected "a mountain of testimony just as big" to counter the accusations and to prove that Archbishop Romero heroically lived the Christian faith and was killed out of hatred for his words and actions as a Catholic pastor.
"He was killed at the altar," Archbishop Paglia said, instead of when he was an easier target at home or on the street. "Through him, they wanted to strike the church that flowed from the Second Vatican Council."This week’s issue of America magazine has a cover story devoted to Archbishop Romero. It is written by Kevin Clarke, senior editor and chief correspondent of America and the author of Oscar Romero: Love Must Win Out. He recalls the homily that the archbishop gave on the eve his assassination:
The night before his murder, the archbishop made a personal appeal in a desperate attempt to place some sort of moral obstacle before the escalating pace of the killing in El Salvador. He spoke directly to those soldiers of the night who were most responsible for the growing horror. “I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army,” he said, “and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says ‘Do not kill!’ should prevail. No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin.... Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: ‘Cease the repression!’”
The applause was so thunderous the radio station’s beleaguered audio technicians at first took it for some sort of short circuit or feedback in the system that had knocked the good archbishop off the air.