Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, Pope Paul VI Raised to Sainthood
Pope Francis raised slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI to sainthood on Sunday in a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims.
Wearing a blood-stained rope belt which belonged to Romero, who was murdered at the altar, Pope Francis led the canonization ceremony in front of some 60,000 pilgrims and heads of state from across the world.
Both men have been hailed by Francis for their courage in turbulent times and their dedication to social justice and the downtrodden.
Their giant portraits were unfurled on Saint Peter’s Basilica along with those of five other new saints, including an orphaned youth and a German nun.
Romero stood up for peasant rights in the face of a right-wing backlash which painted him as a radical supporter of “liberation” theology in his small, impoverished central American nation.
His radio sermons condemning government repression came to be heard throughout the land.
On March 24, 1980, the man dubbed the “voice of those without voice” was shot in the heart, killed by a single bullet as he prepared communion at the start of a bloody civil war which claimed some 75,000 lives.
“Since before he was killed, he defeated his killers by forgiving them. Because he knew they were going to kill him,” added university professor Julia Lainez.
For a long time, efforts to recognize Romero met with heavy opposition from conservative Catholics and the Salvadoran right, who saw veiled Marxism in his sermons.