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The full text of Pope Francis' message to the Archbishop of San Salvador, read at mass today: His Excellency José Luis Escobar Alas Archbishop of San Salvador President of the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador Dear Brother:

The beatification of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez, who was Pastor of that dear Archdiocese is a cause for great joy for the Salvadoran people and for those who rejoice by the example of the best children of the Church. Archbishop Romero, who built peace with the strength of love, gave witness to the faith with his life, given to the extreme.

When Blessed Oscar Romero's relic (the shirt he was wearing under his vestments when he was murdered) was carried into the Beatification Mass this morning, I ran back to the press tent to watch the procession on screen (and to wait for my own video to upload). It would have been a moving experience anyway, even watching on screen--to see the hands reaching out to touch the tabernacle holding his bloodied shirt, to see the obvious devotion. But in the press tent there was something else:

With three hours still to go until the mass of celebration for the beatification of Oscar Romero, the Plaza El Salvador del Mundo and the surrounding streets are filled with people, some of whom slept in the street overnight through the downpours and the lightning. The mood is celebratory but the guns are everywhere--both hidden and in plain sight. We were not one hundred yards into our 5am trek to the Plaza from our hotel a mile away before we ran into our first soldier, armed to the teeth and standing in the pitch dark.

While the beatification ceremony for Oscar Romero will be held on Saturday in Plaza El Salvador del Mundo in San Salvador, many pilgrims are also visiting La Capilla del Hospital Divina Providencia, the small church where Romero was assassinated while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980. Some of Romero's bloodstained vestments can still be seen in a nearby museum.

UPDATE: A referendum approving an amendment to the Irish constitution which will legalize same sex marriage has passed by a large margin, as early polls had predicted. The only surprise is how well the "yes" vote did across all segments of Irish society.

Many had predicted a generational divide, but support for "yes" cut across age and gender, geography and income, early results showed.

Marquette University released a statement on May 19 mourning the sudden death of Rev. Lúcás (Yiu Sing Luke) Chan, S.J., assistant professor of Theology. Father Chan died on Tuesday, May 19, at the age of 46. 

A visitation will be held Thursday, May 28, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Church of the Gesu. The funeral Mass will begin at 4 p.m. with a reception to immediately follow in Eckstein Hall.

Two years ago I was in El Salvador and asked a fellow Jesuit priest if he thought that Archbishop Oscar Romero—famously slain while celebrating Mass in 1980—would ever be beatified. The Salvadoran Jesuit’s answer: only when all of the people who loved Romero and all of the people who hated him were dead.

Fortunately, that prediction turned out to be grossly off the mark, as Pope Francis will beatify Oscar Romero on Saturday (May 23), putting him one step shy of formal sainthood.

Among the many fascinating relics to be seen in the small museum dedicated to Oscar Romero at the site of his assassination on March 23, 1980 are several small shelves of books in his rooms at the time. Most are the books of a churchman; collections of homilies, the liturgy of the hours, a Roman Missal, a Jerome Biblical Commentary.

Others are lives of the saints, or collections of church documents, or reports of various meetings. Others are intriguing glimpses into his interests (or maybe not--who knows what wasn't a gift?), and some are just charming looks at the human person.

Nebraska is showing the most visible signs of a change in thinking by Christians and conservatives on the death penalty, and Catholics are helping to lead the way. For many, the catalyst has been a simple question: “If I value life, how can I support taking a life when the death penalty doesn’t make us any safer?”

In response, more are embracing a consistent life ethic.

We are what we remember, granted that memory is deep and wide, and that sometimes who we are, even who we’ve been, may yet surprise us. Yet that which is completely forgotten, if such be possible, would be as though it had never occurred.

To be human is ever to reclaim one’s past. To live oriented toward the future, as we do, is always to ask new questions, and therefore to discover new meanings, of our past. The past forms the future, yet it is the future that redeems the past. Memory gives the future its ever growing meaning.