(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday approved the decree of martyrdom for Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980. The declaration clears the way for his beatification.
Archbishop Romero had campaigned against repression by the army at the beginning of El Salvador’s civil war. The day before he was murdered he told the government’s police and soldiers that no one is ever obliged to obey an order that is “against the law of God.”
“There is something providential in the fact that Romero will be declared Blessed by the first Pope from South America, a Pope who asks for ‘a poor church for the poor’, which is what Romero lived to the point of shedding his blood,” said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of the cause of beatification of Archbishop Romero, at a meeting held with reporters in the Holy See Press office on Wednesday. Archbishop Paglia also serves as the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
“Romero was a man of prayer, a man of God, a man of the Church, a man of the Sacred Scriptures, a man of profound tradition, a believer – who chose to be among the poor, knowing that the Kingdom of God, as Jesus said, is among the poorest, and those who accompany them,” he told Vatican Radio.
“This binds the figure of Romero, and many contemporary martyrs, to Pope Francis, who has tried to put us on a path of closeness and love for the poor,” Paglia added.
When asked to sum up Romero in one sentence, he related an anecdote about the San Salvador Archbishop.
“When he was asked to leave his diocese … he said the shepherd remains with his people, especially when they are oppressed. He never flees, even at the cost of his own life.”