Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 14, 2018
The banners of new saints Oscar Romero and Paul VI hang from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica as Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 14. \(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Seventy thousand pilgrims from all continents, including thousands from Latin America, applauded enthusiastically this morning in St. Peter’s Square when Pope Francis declared Paul VI, the reforming pope of the Second Vatican Council, Óscar Romero, the martyred archbishop of El Salvador and advocate of the poor, and five others—including two women religious, two priests and a 19-year-old layman—saints of the universal church.

Francis, the first Latin American pope, identifies strongly with both Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero. He sees Paul VI (1897-1978) as the pope who had a broad vision of the church that was inspired by Vatican II, and Archbishop Romero (1917-80) as one who incarnated that vision in his total commitment to the poor. Francis sees himself as continuing the reforming work of the Second Vatican Council that Paul VI first began and as following in the footsteps of Archbishop Romero’s commitment and dedication to the poor. He made this clear at Mass today by wearing the blood-stained cincture that Archbishop Romero was wearing when he was assassinated “out of hatred for the faith” while celebrating Mass in San Salvador on March 24, 1980, and also by wearing a pallium, carrying the crozier and using a chalice belonging to Paul VI.

He referred to both saints in his homily when he commented on the Gospel story told by St. Mark the Evangelist that was sung in Latin and Greek at the Mass. That story recounted how a rich young man ran up to Jesus and asked what he must do “to inherit eternal life,” since he had observed all the commandments. Francis noted that the young man asked what he must “do”; in other words, he wanted “a good to be obtained, by his own efforts.” But, the pope recalled, “Jesus changes the perspective: from commandments observed in order to obtain a reward, to a free and total love. That man was speaking in terms of supply and demand. Jesus proposes to him a story of love” and calls on him to “sell what you have and give to the poor.”

Pope Francis told the crowd that “the Lord does not discuss theories of poverty and wealth but goes directly to life. He asks you to leave behind what weighs down your heart, to empty yourself of goods in order to make room for him, the only good. We cannot truly follow Jesus when we are laden down with things. Because if our hearts are crowded with goods, there will not be room for the Lord, who will become just one thing among the others.”

Then, looking at the 120 cardinals, 500 bishops and 3,000 priests that were concelebrating with him, the presidents of El Salvador, Chile, Italy and Panama, who were seated on the steps of the basilica alongside the former queen of Spain, Sofia, and delegations from many countries as well as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Nobel peace laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the pope told them: “Jesus is radical. He gives all, and he asks all: He gives a total love and asks for an undivided heart.”

He made clear that Paul VI and Archbishop Romero responded to the radical call of Jesus with “an undivided heart,” each in their own way: one as pope and leader of the Catholic world and one as an archbishop serving the poor and oppressed in the midst of a civil war in El Salvador.

“Paul VI spent his life for Christ’s Gospel, crossing new boundaries and becoming its witness in proclamation and in dialogue, a prophet of a church turned outward, looking to those far away and taking care of the poor,” Pope Francis said.

Francis sees himself as continuing the reforming work of the Second Vatican Council that Paul VI first began.

His words appeared to refer to the missionary outreach of Paul VI, who served as pope from 1963 to 1978. As pope, he visited the Holy Land in 1964 where, overcoming centuries of division, he embraced the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I, in Jerusalem. He also traveled to India and Lebanon that same year to reach out to the poor, and later to Geneva. He went to the United Nations in New York in 1965 and appealed to the governments of the world, “Never again war!” He visited Fatima in 1967 and Turkey that same year to meet the ecumenical patriarch and reach out to Muslims. He went to Colombia in 1968 to encourage the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean to implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council through the preferential option for the poor; and he went to Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Samoan Islands, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka in 1970. He wrote famous encyclicals, including “Ecclesiam Suam” (1964), which highlights the importance of dialogue, and “Populorum Progressio” (1967) on “the development of peoples.”

In his homily, Francis recalled that “even in the midst of tiredness and misunderstanding, Paul VI bore witness in a passionate way to the beauty and the joy of following Christ totally.” Here, he appeared to be referring, among other things, to the opposition Paul VI encountered both from traditionalist sectors in the church over his Vatican II-inspired reform of the liturgy and his imposing age limits on bishops and cardinals and from progressive sectors over the encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (1968), as well as the opposition he encountered from right-wing political and economic sectors around the world.

Francis told his worldwide audience and the thousands who had come from Brescia and Milan where Giovanni Battista Montini, the future pope, was born and served as archbishop, “Today, Paul VI still urges us, together with the Council whose wise helmsman he was, to live our common vocation: the universal call to holiness. Not to half measures but to holiness.”

He said, “It is wonderful that together with him and the other new saints today, there is Archbishop Romero, who left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters.”

His words about Romero were surprisingly few but they spoke to the essential character of Romero and his witness, and were cheered on by the 8,000 Salvadoran pilgrims present, many of whom waved their national flag.

Archbishop Romero’s faithful friend and collaborator, Gregorio Rosa Chávez, the humble auxiliary bishop of San Salvador whom Francis made a cardinal in 2017, concelebrated the Mass with Francis along with the archbishop of that same archdiocese.

“Paul VI spent his life for Christ’s Gospel, crossing new boundaries and becoming its witness in proclamation and in dialogue.”

Pope Francis will meet the Salvadoran bishops tomorrow and is expected to announce that when he goes to World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019, he will also visit El Salvador and pray at the tomb of St. Óscar Romero.

In his homily, Pope Francis briefly mentioned the five other new saints who also responded “with undivided hearts” to the radical call of Jesus. Two were Italian priests: Francesco Spinelli (1853-1913), who founded a religious order of women devoted to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and Vincenzo Romano (1751-1831), a diocesan priest. Another two were women religious: the German-born Maria Caterina Kasper (1820-98) and the Spanish-born Nazaria Ignazia of St. Teresa of Jesus (1889-1943), who spent most of her life in Bolivia but died in Argentina. The Bolivians consider her their country’s first saint. The seventh saint was a 19-year-old Italian man, Nunzio Sulprizio (1817-36). He was a blacksmith’s apprentice who suffered ill health but was renowned for his holiness. Pope Francis was delighted that he could canonize him during the synod on young people, many of whom were present at the ceremony today.

At the end of Mass, Pope Francis, who is in good health and clearly full of joy, greeted the cardinals and distinguished visitors before driving among the enthusiastic crowd. It was a historic day in the life of the church and one that will be remembered for decades to come, especially in Latin America.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Joel Mlay
5 years 8 months ago

My understanding is that Pope John XXIII is the pope of Vatican II and the reforming pope though you erroneously credit the Council's convention to Paul VI

Henry George
5 years 8 months ago

I knew Jesuits who knew Saint Oscar Romeo.

He seemed to be a very holy man and was martyred for the faith.

Why it took nearly four decades for the Church to declare him a Martyred Saint
puzzles me.

I did meet Saint Paul, I wished he had not allowed the interpretations/experiments carried
out in the "Spirit of Vatican II" so much leeway.

I rather he had allowed the Older Mass to be said in Latin or the Vernacular or a mix
likewise for the New Mass.

I am glad he did not roll over for secular values, but issued Humanae Vitae.

I remain confused by Pope Francis,
but I think what he did today
was good for the Church.

Mary Kambic
5 years 8 months ago

My husband and I visited Canterbury several years ago, and were touched that the Catholic church in town had exchanged a relic from Thomas Becket with the church in El Salvador, which then sent vestments from Archbishop Romero to the English parish. The canon of the church said that a descendent of one of Becket's executioners is Catholic, and donated her family's relic. It was a touching reminder of the Church's universality.

Phillip Stone
5 years 8 months ago

Well, I thought St Romero was serving Christ in both the rich and the poor of his parish without preference and that a core issue was that he had once been like the others, favouring the powerful, rich and famous and living the prosperous life of the upper classes. Note, the Anglicans acknowledged his sanctity decades ago.

St Paul 6 had a job of discernment to do and broadly speaking he steered carefully through the minefield laid by rigid cultural traditionalists and giddy syncretist revolutionaries.

A shame the unknown people have not been introduced to us: maybe later?

Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

The Canonization of Paul VI is a clear endorsement by Pope Francis of his writings, both on evangelical outreach and on Humanae Vitae. Great to see this on the 50th anniversary year of its publication. It has proven very prophetic.

Mandi Ken
5 years 8 months ago

I still believe in rehabilitation, even in this case. My issue is that Tory Stafford's family was not informed that their child's murderer was being moved to a minimum https://www.assignmentspot.co.uk/ security facility until after the fact. The indigenous community where she was moved to was not informed either. They should all have a say in this.

Tim Donovan
5 years 8 months ago

I admire St. Oscar Romero for his commitment to the rights of poor people and his belief in the resurrection. St. Romero asserted, "I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of So Salvador." I admire St. Pope Paul for his appeal to the people of the world in his speech at the United Nations on October 4 , 1965, in which he boldly proclaimed, " No more war! War never again! " Although I'm gay and certainly a very imperfect Catholic, I also understand the struggle about remaining celibate. Years ago I gave into temptation and had sex with men. However, I regretted my acts, and received forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I know a friend who along with his wife have practiced natural family planning I
n past years. They understand the difficulty of periodic abstinence, as I understand abstinence from sex. It can be difficult, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit, fortitude, it is possible. I know St. Pope Paul was severely criticized for his teaching in his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae. However, I support natural family family planning and it's wise though often difficult requirement for periodic abstinence. All of us are called to at times to perform difficult acts. I believe with the help of God, we can do our best and abstain from sex as needed. Let's pray to God for the gift of fortitude and practice our faith regarding natural family planning for married couples, and abstinence for single people and gay people such as myself.

Michael Barberi
5 years 8 months ago

It is interesting that some people will say that Paul VI's canonization means or implies that his encyclical Humanae Vitae is the absolute moral truth. What everyone knows (or should know) is that Pope Paul VI went against 75% of his 72 member Pontifical Birth Control Commission, including 75% of all the bishops and cardinals and 75% of theologians and lay members. More surprisingly, according to the recent report this year (book) by the Chair of the Humanae Vitae Study Group, Paul VI also asked "all worldwide bishops" for their opinion around Oct-Nov 1967 about the conclusions of the Birth Control Commission (e.g., its Majority Report that recommended that artificial birth control should be morally permitted). The worldwide bishops who responded to Paul VI's request did not participate in the 72 member Pontifical Birth Control Commission. Of the bishops who sent Paul VI their opinion, 70% of bishops believed that artificial birth control should be morally permitted in circumstances.

Despite this, Paul VI accepted the philosophy and theology of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (who became Pope JP II about 10 years later). For those who want to know all the facts about Humanae Vitae, please read an essay I jointly authored with Moral Theologian Joseph Selling entitled "The Origin of Humanae Vitae and the Impasse in Fundamental Theological Ethics", published in the prominent Catholic Journal of Theology "Louvain Studies".

To say that Paul VI was prophetic (in Humanae Vitae) is a common but unsubstantiated talking point by his apologists. In truth, there has been no credible evidence by any national socio-scientic organization that concluded that the increase in contraception has been the "cause" of the increase in abortions, spousal abuse, divorce, et al. Today, 80% of worldwide Catholics, many bishops and a significant percentage of priests and theologians have not received the teaching Humanae Vitae. When a teaching is not-received by 80% of Catholics, it means that the moral theory and rationale in support of it is unconvincing and intellectually unpersuasive.

Hopefully, a change in the pastoral application of Humanae Vitae will happen under Pope Francis.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

Michael – Many popes & bishops have noted the prophetic voice of HV. In addition to Saints Paul VI and JPII, Pope Benedict XVI called it prophetic, linking it to the dissent regarding homosexuality we have now (Peter Seewald interview, link below). Pope Francis affirmed HV in Amoris Laetitia (#68, 80, 82, 222), which says in #80: the conjugal union is ordered to procreation “by its very nature...From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning, even when for various reasons it may not always in fact beget a new life." Here is an article on HV as “The Most Prophetic Letter” that appeared on the 50th anniversary. Some quotes:

“To say that Paul VI was prophetic for teaching what he did about birth control back in 1968 is to say that he was doing on behalf of God something that was confrontational, counter-cultural, and unlikely to be received gratefully, at least at the time.”

“But when Paul VI offered his difficult teaching against contraception and abortion, he suggested (like the prophets of old) that to break with God’s plan and the natural order of things would do more harm than good, even from a secular point of view. Paul predicted that the sexual and contraceptive revolution would lead to more infidelity than marital stability, to lower moral standards rather than greater virtue, to a hyper-sexualized culture with all its attendant challenges (especially for the young), and to the exploitation of women rather than their equality. There would also be negative effects on demography, culture, and politics. Governments and international agencies would interfere by means of population policies—and more recently, with gender ideology and “reproductive rights.”

"Half a century later, things are, if anything, worse than he feared. We have a copulation explosion and a population implosion. Divorce rates have escalated. The sacred cow of “reproductive health” is beyond public critique. Many children grow up without knowing the love of a mother and father committed to each other and to them. When there are natural or human disasters, U.N. agencies often drop condoms before offering food or other relief. Coercive or subtle population programs are common around the world and have wrought terrible demographic effects."

"This generation is more confused about relationships, sex, and fertility, and less able to sustain marriages and families, than any in recorded history. Contraception is not the only reason for all this, but it has proved a powerful driver in the revolution of behavior—and misbehavior. It has not been the boon for women, families, or the broader community that was promised. The prophet Paul VI was right."

Michael Barberi
5 years 8 months ago


I have said my peace about Humanae Vitae (HV) for many years now as demonstrated, in part, to our lengthly exchanges on this subject over the years. Nothing you said here is new. I am fully aware of what Pope Francis said in Amoris Laetitia. However, to read into it that Pope Francis is saying that no change in pastoral theology of contraception is possible is a misreading of this text. I agree that Western Society has become more promiscuous compared to the 1950s. However, to assert that the increase in contraception is 'a powerful driver' for every ill of societal behavior is also unsubstantiated and misleading.

I am aware of all the apologist articles to the contrary, in particular those of Janet Smith one of the most aggressive defenders of HV. Nevertheless, there is no credible and convincing evidence that the increase in contraception is a powerful contributor that has caused the the increase in the ills of Western Society (divorce, abortion, spousal abuse, et al) by any independent and prominent socio-scientic organization. It is hard to believe or even conceive how the use of contraception causes things like abortion. In truth, the responsible and correct use of contraception avoids unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, the major cause of abortions.

We will have to agree to disagree on the teaching HV and its so-called prophetic nature. Further exchanges with you on this issue will become a protracted argument that will not be fruitful or change our differing views. Let's leave our brief exchanges here to the informed consciences of Catholics as they strive to be faithful to the love and charity of Christ.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

Fascinating connection between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero noted by John Allen at Crux. Both were strong advocates for Opus Dei. Allen says "Yet Romero almost couldn’t find enough ways to manifest his esteem. Here’s what he wrote in his diary on Sept. 6, 1979: “Opus Dei performs a silent work of deep spirituality among people who work, students and laborers. I think it’s an immeasurable treasure for our Church; the holiness of work for laity, everyone in their profession.”

More from Allen: "It’s well known that Romero’s personal confessor for almost 15 years was an Opus Dei priest, first Father Juan Aznar and later Father Fernando Saenz, who would replace Romero as Archbishop of San Salvador after his death. (In Catholic circles, for those who don’t know, clergy of Opus Dei generally enjoy a reputation as talented confessors.)

"On July 12, 1975, after Escrivá died, Romero wrote to Paul VI to ask, “in the name of the greater glory of God and the welfare of souls,” that a cause be opened for Escrivá’s beatification."

"In fact, Romero spent the morning of March 24, 1980 - the day he was assassinated - attending an Opus Dei retreat, and one of his favorite ways to spend part of a weekend in San Salvador was to hang out with Opus Dei youth."

"As for Paul VI, whatever his actions as pope, it remains a fact that he used the writings of Escrivá in his private prayer, and he also named Father Alvaro Portillo, who would later succeed Escrivá as head of Opus Dei, to several key commissions of the Second Vatican Council during all four years it was in session."


Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

Another great quote on the prophetic witness of Pope St. Paul VI: "Living the teaching of Humanae Vitae, like living so much other Church teaching, is both hard and easy. Hard, because it requires self-discipline when our culture says, “Do whatever feels good to you.” Hard, because it appeals to our higher nature against our baser passions. Hard, because it requires constant effort, and getting up when we fall, returning to God with contrite hearts.

“Repair,” said Paul VI. He knew, with a loving pastor’s heart, that this teaching would be hard. Yet Christ’s yoke is easy. He never asks anything of us without first giving us the wherewithal—both nature and grace. Many couples have found that living the wisdom of Humanae Vitae improved their self-understanding, self-mastery, and self-gift. Many have found that it improved their communication, mutuality, and love. But the Church is there for all who struggle and fall on that path, to accompany them and bring them home. It offers us a vision of the good life that enriches marriage—bringing serenity from struggle, virtue out of vice, holiness after repair. The prophet Paul VI was right."

Crystal Watson
5 years 8 months ago

Paul VI doesn't deserve to be a saint. He ignored both the majority of bishops at V2 and his own pontifical commission on birth control, not to mention hundreds of theologians and bishops conferences around the world, in his condemnation of contraception. The fact that more than 90% of Catholics use contraception shows the failure of his views.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

Crystal - your argument from a majority makes no sense. It is like saying since the majority of the world's population are not Christian, Christianity has failed. Or, since the majority of Christians sin, it shows the failures of his views.

Michael Barberi
5 years 8 months ago

According to the most recent worldwide poll (conducted just before the Synod on the Family) demonstrated that about 80% of worldwide Catholics do not receive the teaching Humanae Vitae (HV). In other words, 80% don't believe the responsible use of contraception is a sin. Nor do about 40% of U.S. priests, both older and younger. These polls demonstrate that the moral theory and rationale in support of HV is not convincing whatsoever. As for all young Catholic women (e.g., ages 18 to 40) I would not be surprised if 90% of them practice artificial birth control.
The apologists for the Church that support HV "regardless of the reasons" represent a rigid barrier to responsible development of both the doctrine on birth control and in its pastoral application. Why do Catholics reject HV? Consider what HV wants Catholic to believe:

> Natural Family Planning (NFP) is God's Procreative Plan and the only moral means that married couples have to regulate fertility.
This means that the 30% of Catholic women who have irregular menstrual cycles where NFP does not work, must abstain from marital sexual intercourse for as much as 18 consecutive days per month. For other women, they must abstain from sexual intercourse for 12 consecutive days per month as they follow NFP methods. Astonishingly, those women that are told that another pregnancy would be life-threatening cannot use artificial birth control or have their fallopian tubes tied in order to safeguard their lives against a pregnancy as a result of marital intercourse. They must live a lifetime of sexual abstinence even if it endangers their marriage.

> Every marital act has two dimensions/meanings/ends, namely procreation and love, that must never be separated by man because it is Divine Law. In other words, every marital act must be open to procreation. Well, for the past 50 years the Church has failed to demonstrate how NFP is "open to procreation". In other words, when married couples plot basil temperature and cervical mucus on a calendar to determine infertile times, then restrict marital acts to those times they ensure that every act of sexual intercourse is not procreative.

Responsible birth control does not mean 'mustering enough courage and virtue to practice HV' as though HV is the absolute moral truth and the Word of God, full stop. It is about using one's God-given right reason to practice responsible parenthood and prudently regulate fertility while living a life according to the love of Christ and His Gospel.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

It is a ridiculous argument to base teaching on acceptance rates on polls of self-identifying Catholics. In 1963, Father Andrew Greeley published an article citing studies that showed overwhelming support among American Catholics for the Church’s teaching that artificial birth control is always wrong (see link below). The teaching on homosexuality was also overwhelming accepted in polls until recently. Are we to change every teaching about abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality and even the Eucharistic Real Presence just because opinion polls show majorities want that, even majorities that are media manipulated and include many people who do not even believe or practice Catholicism (many who self-identifying as Catholic say they don't know, believe or practice what the Church teaches about anything). Please God, deliver us from such relativism.

“Catholics accept the Church’s teaching with a vengeance,” Father Greeley wrote, adding that on this subject some Catholics were “more Catholic than the Church.”https://angelusnews.com/news/russell-shaw/humanae-vitae-at-50

AM Garcia
5 years 8 months ago

Mr. Barberi, your arguments are full of hair-splitting. Most polls find majorities of people believe sex, of any type, between consenting adults is OK, whether they are married or not. Therefore, the church should change its doctrine or be left behind as a minority religion. Science and personal choice should determine what is right and wrong, not old men with old books and old ideas.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 8 months ago

Garcia - Science is incompetent in making moral judgments. It can count the numbers who use contraception, who marry and divorce, it can poll people on what they think, estimate those killed by abortion or a war to great accuracy, or the health risks of promiscuous sexual activity, but it cannot determine the morality of any of that. Personal choice can be bad or good, and a little reflection reveals we make choices to act that are both bad and good. It is not the age of books or people or ideas that matters, but whether they are true or false, right or wrong. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God and its teachings are eternally true, no matter the fashions of any particular time. One's eternal destiny is intimately tied to living according to or in contradiction to those teachings.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
5 years 8 months ago

All saints of the Church - Pray for us.

The latest from america

Major League Baseball is finally incorporating stats recorded by Negro League players as part of M.L.B.’s official record books.  
Michael O’BrienJune 18, 2024
The first provisional results for the European Parliament elections are announced at the European Parliament building in Brussels June 9, 2024. (OSV News photo/Piroschka van de Wouw, Reuters)
The elections results suggest that European states will set stricter policies on immigration, raising levels of despair among asylum seekers and hundreds of thousands of people living without official status across Europe.
Kevin HargadenJune 18, 2024
Ahead of Juneteenth, Gloria Purvis would like to see the Catholic Church lean into the question: “What is a theological response for making repair for the sin of racism?” The answer, she says, will require “wokeism.”
Christine LenahanJune 18, 2024
Pope Francis’ participation at the G7 summit was not only historic but revealed the high moral standing that the first Latin American pope has on the global stage.
Gerard O’ConnellJune 18, 2024