Saint Romero of the Americas

It would be wrong for me to anticipate the mind of the Church, but I personally believe that one day Oscar Romero will be declared a Saint of the Church.

These were the carefully-chosen words of Cardinal Basil Hume in a tribute to Archbishop Romero at a memorial service in Westminster Cathedral the week after his assassination in March 1980. Thirty three years later, after many inexplicable delays, Oscar Romero is undoubtedly moving towards sainthood.

The cause for his canonisation was reportedly ‘unblocked’ by Pope Francis in May and is now progressing quickly; and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said that there are no doctrinal obstacles to the cause.

A formal certification of Romero’s martyrdom and then his beatification seems to be on the cards for 2014 or 2015, well before the centenary of his birth in 2017. Nevertheless we should remember that the Christian communities, the People of God in Latin America, long ago ‘canonised’ their beloved pastor in their hearts as Saint Romero of the Americas.

It is the greatest grace and privilege of my life to have known and worked with Archbishop Romero and to have enjoyed his friendship. There are times in life when one catches a fleeting glimpse of God at work in the world and Christ’s presence amongst us. The man we all knew as ‘Monseñor’ provided such a glimpse for me.

I was awakened at 5am on the morning of Tuesday 25 March 1980 by a telephone call from the Jesuit Provincial’s office in San Salvador with the devastating news that Archbishop Romero had been assassinated the previous evening.

He was shot just above the heart with a single exploding bullet fired by a death squad marksman acting, according to El Salvador’s current President Funes, ‘with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents’.

He had just completed his homily and was moving to offer the bread and wine at the Mass he was celebrating in the chapel of the hospital where he lived. He fell at the foot of a huge crucifix with blood streaming from his mouth, nostrils and ears.

A nun on the front bench recorded the Mass and it is a jolting shock now to listen to the sound of that shot, the moment of martyrdom of the Archbishop of San Salvador.

Oscar Romero was an unlikely martyr. Continue reading.

Julian Filochowski is Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust.

Source: Thinking Faith

Photo: Julian Filochowski sat next to Archbishop Romero in 1978, Archbishop Romero Trust.


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