Catholic World News

Archbishop Romero bore witness to faith that 'would not stay silent,' says postulator for his cause

February 04, 2015

It is a “providential coincidence” that the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero will take place under the first Latin American Pope, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia told a February 4 news conference at the Vatican.

Archbishop Paglia, who has been the postulator for the cause of the archbishop’s beatification, observed that Archbishop Romero had offered his life in service to the poor of El Salvador, while Pope Francis has stated his desire for “a poor Church, for the poor.”

Archbishop Paglia said that the witness of Archbishop Romero, in life and in death, rallied the hope of the people of El Salvador in an era marked by brutality and injustice. He said:

The martyrdom of Romero has given meaning and strength to many Salvadoran families who lost relatives and friends during the civil war. His memory immediately became the memory of other victims, perhaps less illustrious, of the violence.

Because he saw himself as responsible for the welfare of his people, and especially those in the greatest need, “he took upon himself the bloodshed, pain, and violence,” Archbishop Paglia continued. He said that Archbishop Romero played the role of “a defensor civitatis, following the tradition of the ancient Fathers of the Church: defending the persecuted clergy, protecting the poor, and affirming human rights.”

The fact that Archbishop Romero was shot and killed at the altar as he celebrated Mass, Archbishop Paglia said, was a display of “hatred for a faith that, combined with charity, would not stay silent when faced with the injustices that implacably and cruelly afflicted the poor and their defenders.” The postulator recalled that St. John Paul II said, “they killed him precisely at the most sacred moment, during the highest and most divine act.”

Archbishop Paglia (who now serves as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family) gave credit to Pope Benedict XVI for unblocking the cause of Archbishop Romero, which had been stalled because of claims that his public statements had been overly political. The archbishop said that when Archbishop Romero was asked whether he supported liberation theology, the Salvadoran prelate replied:

Yes, of course. But there are two forms of liberation theology. There is the one that sees liberation solely as material liberation. The other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI.

Archbishop Paglia disclosed that a panel of theologians had been unanimous in finding that Archbishop Romero was murdered out of contempt for the faith, and a panel of cardinals reached the same unanimous conclusion.

The Vatican announced on February 3 that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with the approval of Pope Francis, had proclaimed Archbishop Romero a martyr. Plans for his beatification have not yet been announced.


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