Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980)

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“...Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980) was a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He became the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, succeeding Luis Chávez. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980.

After his assassination, Romero was succeeded by Monsignor Arturo Rivera. In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero, and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The canonization process continues. He is considered by some the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as “San Romero” by Catholics in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, including the Church of England through the Calendar in Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London, a testament to his wide respect even beyond the Catholic Church. In 2008, he was chosen as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy by the Europe-based magazine A Different View….

On the tenth anniversary of the assassination in 1990, the sitting prelate archbishop of San Salvador, Msgr. Arturo Rivera, appointed a postulator to prepare documentation for a cause of beatification and canonization of Romero. The documents were formally accepted by Pope John Paul II and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 1997, and Romero was given the title of “Servant of God”. The process continues today with further investigation of the heroism and martyrdom of Romero. Upon the declaration of heroism and martyrdom, it is expected that Romero will achieve the title of “Venerable”. If the decree finds that Romero was a martyr, there would be no further obstacles to his beatification. A declaration of only heroic virtue, however, would require that a miracle must be attributed to Romero in order for him to be declared Blessed.

Three decades after Romero’s assassination, the canonization cause is stalled. In March 2005, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, the Vatican official in charge of the drive, announced that Romero’s cause had cleared an unprecedented hurdle, having survived a theological audit by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the time headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later elected Pope Benedict XVI) and that beatification could follow within six months. Pope John Paul II died within weeks of those remarks. Predictably, the transition of the new Pontiff slowed down the work of canonizations and beatifications. Pope Benedict XVI additionally instituted liturgical changes that had the overall effect of reining in the Vatican’s so-called “factory of saints.” Later that year, an October 2005 interview by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, appeared to stall the prospect of an impending Romero beatification. Asked if Msgr. Paglia’s predictions checked out, Cardinal Saraiva responded, “Not as far as I know today.” In November 2005, a Jesuit magazine signaled that Romero’s beatification was still “years away.”

Many suspect that the delay in the declaration of heroism and martyrdom is due to the fact that Romero is closely tied to, but not directly involved with, the liberation theology movement espoused especially by the Jesuits of Latin America. The charge has been dismissed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who have pointed out that Romero has not yet met certain criteria to move on to the next levels of the inquests, processes which have historically taken decades to roll into motion….”

The ECUSA Celebrates Oscar Romero as a hero of the church on March 24.

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