Archbishop Oscar Romero – Martyr?

Archbishop Oscar Romero – Martyr?

SALVADORAN ARCHBISHOP OSCAR ROMEROVATICAN CITY (CNS) — After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed “in hatred of the faith” and not for purely political reasons.

Pope Francis signed the decree Feb. 3, recognizing as martyrdom the March 24, 1980, assassination of Archbishop Romero in a San Salvador hospital chapel as he celebrated Mass.

Salvadorans honor the late Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador on the anniversary of his assassination in 2009. (CNS file/Reuters)

The decree clears the way for the beatification of Archbishop Romero. The postulator or chief promoter of his sainthood cause, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was scheduled to brief the press Feb. 4 about the cause.

Archbishop Romero’s sainthood cause was opened at the Vatican in 1993, but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid wider debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for taking political positions against Salvadoran government and against the death squads that were operating in his country. As head of the San Salvadoran Archdiocese from 1977 until his death, his preaching grew increasingly strident in defense of the country’s poor and oppressed.

Pope Benedict XVI told reporters in 2007 that the archbishop was “certainly a great witness of the faith” who “merits beatification, I do not doubt.” But he said some groups had complicated the sainthood cause by trying to co-opt the archbishop as a political figure.

Seven years later, Pope Francis — the first Latin American pope — told reporters that “for me, Romero is a man of God.” However, he said at the time, “the process must go ahead, and God must give his sign. If he wants to do so, he will.”

During his general audience Jan. 7, Pope Francis quoted words that Archbishop Romero had spoken at the funeral Mass of a priest assassinated by Salvadoran death squads: “We must all be willing to die for our faith even if the Lord does not grant us this honor.”

Although not seen as exercising any pressure to move the cause forward, St. John Paul II made it a point of praying at Archbishop Romero’s tomb in the San Salvador cathedral during visits to the city in 1983 and again in 1996.

During his first visit, he told people gathered in the cathedral, “Within the walls of this cathedral rest the mortal remains of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a zealous pastor whose love of God and service to his brothers and sisters led to the very sacrifice of his life in a violent way as he celebrated the sacrifice of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

When Pope John Paul returned 13 years later, he told the people that he wanted to pray again at the tomb of Archbishop Romero, “brutally assassinated while he offered the sacrifice of the Mass.” The pope said he was pleased that the archbishop’s memory “continues to live among you.”

An official decree of martyrdom removes the beatification requirement of a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession. Generally, a miracle after beatification would still be needed for canonization.

The same day that Pope Francis formally recognized Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom, he also signed a decree recognizing the martyrdom of two Polish Conventual Franciscans and an Italian missionary priest who were murdered by Shining Path guerrillas in Peru in 1991. Franciscan Fathers Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski and Father Alessandro Dordi, a diocesan priest from Bergamo, were killed in separate incidents in August 1991.

Dates for the beatification of Archbishop Romero and the Peru martyrs were not announced immediately.  END   Source

Comments invited on the subject of this latest controversial fast-tracking of an alleged hero of the Faith…

Comments (86)

  • westminsterfly


    I might have thought the same thing as you once, but I’m not so sure now. I have long been concerned about the behaviour of Opus Dei members, both in the public domain:-

    Example 1: Ruth Kelly:-

    “When asked if homosexuality was a sin, Miss Kelly refused to answer. Labour MPs were appalled. She also rejected calls to break off her links with Opus Dei. “It is a private spiritual life and I don’t think it is relevant to my job,” she said.

    But despite her deeply held convictions she has backed government policy even if it flies in the face of her spiritual teachings. Miss Kelly refused to resign when roman catholic adoption agencies were denied an opt-out from legislation compelling them to consider same sex couples as parents.

    While she refused to vote with the Government for the legalisation of hybrid human-animal embryos she was urged by pro-life campaigners to be true to her principles and vote against the Embryology Bill even if it meant sacrificing her Cabinet career. She instead was given permission to be absent for the vote.”

    Example 2: Jack Valero:- take your pick from any of these articles –

    but also because of what I have learned in the private domain, i.e. a friend of mine is involved with Opus Dei and her children attend schools run by Opus Dei members. I am far from impressed with the children and their knowledge of the Faith and the way they behave, and also not been impressed by some of the things that my friend has told me. I’d be very surprised if the lapsation rate is any different to those in other Catholic schools (which Daphne McLeod of PEEP frequently used to claim was around 95%).

    I am not implying that Opus Dei is infected with Marxist ideology per se, but there does seem to be a lot of confusion and surrender to worldly values within it.

    February 5, 2015 at 11:29 am
  • jobstears

    I thought liberation theology was a thing of the past, I know John Paul II came down fairly hard on it, so it is somewhat surprising that it has surfaced again with the recent beatification of Archbishop Romero.

    I was reading up on liberation theology and came across this article on which might be of interest. I know nothing about the author, but the article gave a decent overview of the subject. This section caught my attention because I thought it described quite accurately how proponents of social justice=liberation theology tend to portray Christ.

    “”While liberation theologians do not outright deny Christ’s deity, there is no clear-cut, unambiguous confession that Jesus is God. The significance of Jesus Christ lies in His example of struggling for the poor and the outcast. The Incarnation is reinterpreted to represent God’s total immersion into man’s history of conflict and oppression. By His words and actions, Jesus showed us how to become true sons of God – that is, by bringing in the kingdom of God through actively pursuing the liberation of the oppressed”.

    February 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      That’s an excellent summary of what liberation theology is all about. It’s really a justice and peace movement, nothing more.

      February 5, 2015 at 4:50 pm
  • editor

    I think this (see below) is a very telling report – a priest who switched from being agin his new archbishop (Romero) to the point where he wanted to leave the archdiocese on hearing of his appointment, then changing his mind on realising he’d left his “conservative” ways behind..

    “Fr. Paul Schindler recalls an Oscar Romero who once sat beside him trembling. It was Romero’s first encounter with a group of priests who were furious at the just-announced news that he would be their new archbishop. It was the monthly clergy meeting in early 1977 for the San Salvador archdiocese and at the end, Romero — who hadn’t yet been installed — was asked if he’d like to say a few words.
    For all Schindler knew, they would be the last words he’d ever hear from Romero. Discouraged at the prospect of working under him, given all that he’d heard, Schindler had told his bishop back in Cleveland. Ohio, that he’d decided to return home after eight years of parish work in El Salvador.
    “He walked to the front of the room and began to speak, and after about 25 minutes, I said to myself, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’”
    It was Schindler’s first glimpse of something that, until then, had been unknown to him and many others: in the previous two-and-a-half years, while serving as bishop of Santiago de Maria — a rural diocese where the first peasant massacres took place — Romero had begun to change from the more conservative priest they had known in earlier years.
    Read more

    February 6, 2015 at 12:17 am
  • Therese

    Have I missed Domchas’ reply to Athanasius?

    February 6, 2015 at 6:18 pm
    • editor


      Game, set and match!

      There’s more chance of Pope Francis offering a TLM than of Domchas replying to Athanasius. With bells on!

      February 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm
      • Laura


        “There’s more chance of Pope Francis offering a TLM than of Domchas replying to Athanasius. With bells on!”

        LOL !

        February 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm
  • becca

    “Since Marxist materialism destroys the Church’s transcendent meaning, a Marxist church would be not only self-destructive but senseless.” This is a quote from one of Romero’s own homilies. I wish people would actually read Romero before they called him a liberation theologian. Romero criticized both the left and the right as an Archbishop. His personal secretary stated that Romero was afraid either side would kill him and had absolutely no interest in liberation theology. A group of people sought to hijack a very Holy Man. Or ““A journalist once asked him: ‘Do you agree with Liberation Theology’ And Romero answered: “Yes, of course. However, there are two theologies of liberation. One is that which sees liberation only as material liberation. The other is that of Paul VI. I am with Paul VI.” He spoke because it was the right thing to do because the Church must stand up for justice. The man was slaughtered while saying Mass.. They could have murdered him easily elsewhere but the folks personally chose to have it happen while he was saying Mass. To me that says it all.

    February 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm
  • becca

    “To the accusations that he supported liberation theology, Archbishop Paglia said, Archbishop Romero responded, “Yes, certainly. But there are two theologies of liberation: one sees liberation only as material liberation; the other is that of Paul VI. I’m with Paul VI” in seeking the material and spiritual liberation of all people, including from the sins of injustice and oppression.

    To fill out the quote. Romero had so much criticisms that his writings were heavily scrutinized. The man was Orthodox.

    February 21, 2015 at 3:48 pm
    • Athanasius


      And yet, we have the words of Our Lord from the Gospel: “The poor you will have always with you,” and “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s”.

      I am not aware of a single passage in the Gospels where Our Lord specifically challenges the injustices and oppression committed by the Roman authorities, brutal as they often were at that time. No, Our Lord sought to convert souls knowing that these material sins would only disappear with grace.

      The same can be said of the Epistles of St. Paul, the Acts of the Apostles, the Letters of Sts. Peter, John and James. There is not one single passage in any of the these writings that encourages or supports a public rousing of the people against corrupt government. How does the adage go? “Before kingdoms change, men must change”. That’s how the Church has always behaved in regard to the corrupt; she has sought to convert them with her wise teaching, patience and grace, not by public demonstration and resistance which only succeeds in generating acts of retribution.

      Furthermore, who was more unjustly treated and oppressed than Our Lord during His Passion and Death? Yet, He did not speak out against his persecutors and murderers. Quite the opposite, in fact: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”!

      Did Our Lady and the Apostles cry “injustice and oppression” as He was dragged through the streets covered in blood and bruises, or when He was nailed to the Cross? No, they stood in silent mourning offering their sufferings with His.

      And where the early Christian martyrs put to death because they challenged the material cruelty of pagan leaders of their day, or simply because they would not deny their faith in Christ? There is a huge difference.

      I’m sorry to say that Archbishop Romero’s case is not as straight forward as many imagine. That he cared for the people who were treated unjustly is beyond question. But that he acted responsibly and in line with what I have stated above is certainly questionable. The Church should wait until it is healthy again before it investigates his case further. At present, there are too many Marxists under the episcopal beds, especially in South America.

      In the meantime, there is always the Church’s social teaching, particularly that of Popes Leo XIII and Pius IX, to keep Catholics on the right track and bring oppressors back on to it.

      February 21, 2015 at 8:23 pm

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