Oscar Romero

Óscar Romero

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980) was a prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador, who served as the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture. In 1980, Romero was assassinated while offering Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence.

Pope Francis stated during Romero’s beatification that “His ministry was distinguished by a particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.”

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the “International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims” in recognition of the role of Archbishop Romero in defence of human rights. Romero actively denounced violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable people and defended the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.

In 1997, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon Romero the title of Servant of God, and a cause for beatification and canonization was opened for him. He was declared a martyr by Pope Francis on 3 February 2015, paving the way for his beatification which took place on 23 May 2015.

Latin American church groups often proclaim Romero an unofficial patron saint of the Americas and/or El Salvador; Catholics in El Salvador often refer to him as “San Romero”. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other Christian denominations including Church of England and Anglican Communion through the Calendar in Common Worship, as well as in at least one Lutheran liturgical calendar. Archbishop Romero is also one of the ten 20th-century martyrs depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London. In 2008, Europe-based magazine A Different View included Romero among its 15 Champions of World Democracy.

Legacy

International recognition

During his first visit to El Salvador in 1983, Pope John Paul II entered the cathedral in San Salvador and prayed at Romero’s tomb. Afterwards, the Pope praised Romero as a “zealous and venerated pastor who tried to stop violence.” John Paul II also asked for dialogue between the government and opposition to end El Salvador’s civil war.

On 7 May 2000, in Rome’s Colosseum during the Jubilee Year celebrations, Pope John Paul II commemorated twentieth-century martyrs. Of the several categories of martyrs, the seventh consisted of Christians who were killed for defending their brethren in the Americas. Despite the opposition of some social conservatives within the Church, John Paul II insisted that Archbishop Romero be included. He asked the organizers of the event to proclaim Romero “that great witness of the Gospel.”

On 21 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims which recognizes, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero.

On 22 March 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Romero’s tomb during an official visit to El Salvador.

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins visited the Cathedral and tomb of Archbishop Romero on 25 October 2013 during a state visit to El Salvador. Famed linguist Noam Chomsky speaks highly and often about Romero’s social work and murder[

Beatification and Sainthood

The beatification of Romero was held in San Salvador on 23 May 2015 in the Plaza Salvador del Mundo under the Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo. Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the ceremony on behalf of Pope Francis, who sent a letter to Archbishop of San Salvador José Luis Escobar Alas, marking the occasion and calling Romero “a voice that continues to resonate.” An estimated 250,000 people attended the service, many watching on large television screens set up in the streets around the plaza.

On the 7th of March 2018 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has cleared the path for Oscar Romero to be officially declared a saint. Though no date has yet been announced, Oscar Romero is expected to be canonized during the Synod of Bishops in October 2018.

(Source: Wikipedia, Catholic News Agency, The Archbishop Romero Trust)