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Archbishop Romero recognized as a martyr

February 03, 2015

The Vatican has formally recognized the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, clearing the way for his beatification.

At a private audience on February 3, Pope Francis authorized a series of decrees by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, proclaiming the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero and of three other clerics.

The other martyrs recognized were two Polish Franciscans, Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strazalkowski, and an Italian, Father Alessandro Dordi. All three were killed by guerrillas in Peru in 1991.*

The cause of Archbishop Romero, who was gunned down in March 1980 at the height of the civil war in El Salvador, had provoked some debate because of initial uncertainty as to whether he was killed out of contempt for the Catholic faith or because of his advocacy of a political cause. Pope Benedict reportedly “unblocked” the cause for beatification of the Salvadoran prelate, and Pope Francis also indicated that he hoped the cause would advance quickly. The issue was settled in January, when panel of theologians appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concluded that Archbishop Romero had indeed been killed “in hatred of the faith.”

The February 3 decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints also included a finding that Father Giovanni Bacile (1880- 1941), an Italian priest, had lived a life of “heroic virtue.” He will now be eligible for beatification if a miracle is attributed to his influence. *- An earlier version of this news story incorrectly listed the dates of the deaths of the two Polish martyrs. We regret the error.


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