Vatican bestows sainthood to El Salvador's priest-hero Cardinal Oscar Romero

Vatican bestows sainthood to El Salvador’s priest-hero Cardinal Oscar Romero

The Faith
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[AmericaMagazine.org] Near the end of his homily at a Mass just prior to St. Oscar Romero’s canonization, Jesuit Father Jose Maria Tojeira yelled to the crowd outside the Metropolitan Cathedral: “Viva Monsenor Romero!” (Long live Bishop Romero!)

VIDEO: Trailer for the Hollywood movie ‘Romero’ starring Raúl Juliá [1989]


The overflow crowed lustily yelled back, “Que Viva!” (Long live!)

“We’re not venerating a body,” Father Tojeira said, “rather someone who is alive, together with God and in the hearts of all Christians that want to continue with the reality of the Gospel.”

On Oct. 14 at the Vatican — very early morning in El Salvador — Salvadorans gathered in the square outside the cathedral to watch the ceremony on big screens; others watched in their parishes.

St. Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass March 24, 1980. His legacy of showing a preference for the poor and promoting peace lives on in his native El Salvador, where, even in death, he plays an outsized role in the country’s public life and occupies a special place in its collective consciousness — for devotees and detractors alike.

He becomes El Salvador’s first saint. But his current role in the country transcends religion. He also has assumed the status of national hero, whose words — spoken in homilies — sound prophetic and seem apt almost four decades after his death.

“He still is the most venerated and respected leader of the last 100 years, certainly the last 50 years,” said Rick Jones, youth and migration adviser for Catholic Relief Services in El Salvador.

“He’s still the sign post of what people are looking for in terms of some voice that talks about reconciliation, justice and hope for nonviolent transformation.”

St. Romero’s slaying came as the country was on the cusp of civil war, which roared through the 1980s. His canonization comes as the country convulses with violence, much of it attributed to gangs preying on populations living in barrios under their control.

This article continues at [AmericaMagazine.org] El Salvador celebrates its first saint: Óscar Romero

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