In a brief statement today, Pope Francis set Archbishop Oscar Romero on a course to canonization by confirming his death as a martydom
According to the Vatican release, "Promulgation of Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints":
Today... the Holy Father Francis received in private audience the Em.mo Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. At the hearing, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation to promulgate the decrees regarding :
- The martyrdom of the Servant of God Oscar Arnolfo Galdámez Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador; born August 15, 1917 in Ciudad Barrios (El Salvador) and killed in hatred of the Faith, March 24, 1980, in San Salvador (El Salvador).
Progress on Romero's sainthood has been "blocked" for decades. Part of the hold up had been the issue of the nature of his death—was it a political assassination or an act of hatred for the faith? Since he became pope, Francis has made it clear that he was keen on "unblocking" Romero's cause.
No date for Romero's beatification has been set, but a Vatican press conference on the decree has been scheduled tomorrow. The decree of martyrdom is significant for Romero's cause since the beatification of martyrs can be approved without a miracle attributed to their intercession. At lease one miracle is needed for canonization, however.
Beyond the technical needs of canonization, Pope Francis' decision today removes much of the politics which had obscured Romero's cause for years. The stall of his canonization has been attributed to concerns that it would be a indirect endorsement of Liberation Theology, enjoying its own restoration under Francis, and to arguments that his assassination emerged from the political tensions of his time and could not be attributed to hatred of the faith. The decision today suggests that scripturally based civic promotion of social concerns and church teaching related to the same is an integral aspect of living the faith in contemporary society, not somehow an ancillary prudential choice.