Oscar Romero's Sainthood Cause to Move Forward

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the official promoter of the cause for canonization of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, said the process to beatify and eventually canonize the slain Salvadoran archbishop has been “unblocked.” Archbishop Paglia, who has been the postulator of Archbishop Romero’s cause for years, made the announcement in a homily on April 20, just a few hours after meeting with Pope Francis.

Archbishop Paglia, who was preaching at a Mass in the Italian city of Molfetta to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Bishop Antonio Bello of that diocese—widely known by the diminutive Don Tonino—said, “Today, the anniversary of the death of Don Tonino, the cause for the beatification of Archbishop Romero was unblocked.”

The archbishop gave no more details, and his office said on April 22 that no more would be said until there is something “concrete” to report. In his homily Archbishop Paglia said, “Martyrs help us live, help us understand there is more joy in giving than in receiving. This is why we need to preserve their memories.”

The election of Pope Francis, a South American and previously the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, had given new hope to supporters of Romero’s sainthood.

“We are in the best of circumstances. The time is ripe for a final verdict,” Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez of San Salvador said a few days after the pope’s election.

Msgr. Jesus Delgado, now vicar general of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, recalled a conversation in 2007 with Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who told him that if he were pope, the beatification and canonization of the slain archbishop would be the first thing he would pursue. When Cardinal Bergoglio was elected on March 13, Monsignor Delgado told local media it was “a wonderful surprise.”

Archbishop Romero was a staunch defender of the poor and a vocal critic of human rights violations by the military junta that ruled El Salvador. He was assassinated on March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador. The Congregation for Saints’ Causes authorized the opening of his cause in 1993. Often the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is asked to review the writings of candidates for canonization to ensure they are free of doctrinal error. Many people working for Archbishop Romero’s cause described the review as “blocked” in the congregation from 2000 to 2005.

One of those supporters is Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, a professor of contemporary history in Rome and author of Primero Dios: Vita di Oscar A. Romero (“God First: The Life of Oscar A. Romero”). He said Archbishop Romero’s “enemies claimed there were theological errors” in his writings and sermons. “This took years of work to clear up.”

The next step in the process is a formal papal declaration that Archbishop Romero died a martyr—that he was killed because of his faith. Opponents of his cause have claimed his assassination was politically motivated. A miracle is not needed for the beatification of a martyr.

Regardless of how the canonization advances, “the Salvadoran people have named him saint long ago,” Bishop Rosa Chávez said.

ed gleason
3 years 11 months ago
Stalling the process is understandable..e.g. 'lets examine his holiness ' But CDF blocking ia an active negative stance. Of course the death squads would like 'blocking'. We need to know who in the CDF blocked.. he needs to be vetted and stand for dismissal.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Death-row inmate Ledell Lee. A ruling from the state Supreme Court allowing officials to use a lethal injection drug that a supplier says was misleadingly obtained cleared the way for Arkansas to execute Ledell Lee on Thursday, April 20, 2017, although he still had pending requests for reprieve. (Arkansas Department of Correction via AP)
To take Holy Communion in the face of death is to say that it is fellowship, and not food, that matters most.
Terrance KleinApril 26, 2017
A man rides a bicycle past a billboard with an image of Pope Francis April 26 ahead of the pontiff's April 28-29 visit to Cairo. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)
“Peace be with you” was the message of the Risen Jesus to his disciples on the first Easter, and it is the message Francis will bring to the Muslim and Christian communities in this land.
Gerard O'ConnellApril 26, 2017
Pope Francis is presented with a football helmet by Michigan football team coach Jim Harbaugh during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Coach Jim Harbaugh presented a custom Wolverines helmet and a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers to Pope Francis.
Michael J. O'LoughlinApril 26, 2017
The 'Hamlet'-inspired play made the playwright Tom Stoppard an overnight sensation.
David StewartApril 26, 2017