Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who a death squad killed in 1980, will finally be recognized as a saint, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
A death squad gunned down Romero while he celebrated Mass in March of 1980 after Romero openly criticized El Salvador’s military government for targeting and abusing left-wing political opponents, according to NPR. The Vatican did not recognize his martyrdom until 2015, when officials declared militants killed him in “odium fidei,” or “in hatred of the faith.”
Romero would be beatified if a verifiable miracle could be attributed to him, Pope Francis declared in 2014. Such a miracle has in fact been recognized and attributed to Romero, though the Vatican has not made the specifics public. The nature of the miracle may have been made public in 2017. However, as Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who led the process of verifying Romero’s sainthood (canonization), said in 2017 a pregnant woman’s inexplicable healing had been attributed to Romero. It remains unclear whether that alleged healing is the actual miracle the Vatican recognized in this case.
Romero’s path to sainthood was long-delayed because of his promotion of Liberation Theology — a theology that gained popularity in the Latin America in the 1970s. The Catholic Church stemmed and criticized the theology by the 1990s for its promotion of a Marxist worldview and its links to the Soviet regime. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stalled Romero’s case for sainthood, but Francis declared it “unlocked” in 2014, according to NPR.
The long delay in recognizing the obvious fact that Romero was a obviously martyr was shameful. But many saints and blesseds were not understood in their own times (Mary MacKillop and Mother Theodore Guerin among them), even by the church that they served so selflessly.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) March 7, 2018
Romero is expected to be canonized along with Pope Paul VI in October at the Synod of Bishops.
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