Religión Digital (English translation by Rebel Girl)
March 21, 2014
San Salvador Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, assassinated 34 years ago, was a "great prophet" and could soon become the first Salvadoran saint, thanks to the new twist Pope Francis has given his process in the Vatican. This is what Acan-Efe was told by Ricardo Urioste, president of the Fundación Monseñor Romero, who was Romero's vicar general (second in command) and whose institution is organizing tributes on the 34th anniversary of the assassination which occurs this Monday, March 24th.
Urioste says he's confident that Romero, who was killed on March 24, 1980 by an unknown sniper as he was celebrating Mass in San Salvador, will be beatified and canonized during the papacy of Pope Francis who, in April of last year, ordered his beatification process which began in 1994 to be unblocked.
Romero was characterized by his denunciations of the injustices committed during the years prior to the Salvadoran armed conflict (1980-1992), which caused some 75,000 dead, 8,000 wounded, and 12,000 disappeared.
According to Urioste, the first step towards the canonization of Romero -- so that he can be venerated worldwide, is for him to be declared "blessed", which could happen before 2017.
Last September "I was chatting" with the postulator archbishop for Romero's cause in the Vatican, Vincenzo Paglia, who asserts that he could be beatified "sooner" than the next three years, he said.
"I can't be specific, but, because of certain facts we've had (from Rome) it's very possible it will be in 2015 -- not absolutely certain, but very possible," he said.
He pointed out that "beatification is the first step, through which it's said that the person is in Heaven and can be worshiped in their native country, but not universally."
The second step, "canonization, on the other hand, opens the possibility of worshiping them all over the world" as a saint, he explained.
Urioste acknowledged that you can't determine how much time might elapse between beatification and canonization since "everything depends on the research being done, aside from the fact that to be canonized...you need a scientifically proven miracle."
However, he noted that the Pope "can waive that miracle if he wishes, as in fact he has made a dispensation for Pope John XXIII, who will be canonized now in April," even though "he didn't perform the necessary miracle."
Pope Francis has been "crucial" for Romero's process to advance, so his canonization "may come during his period" too, Urioste pointed out.
Even though his process in still being studied, many Salvadorans and Latin Americans have called the assassinated archbishop "San Romero de America" for years.
"Definitely, Romero was a very saintly man, a man of much prayer, who fulfilled his commitment as bishop...just like Jesus, a man very close to the poor," Urioste remembered.
Each year, in March, Romero's assassination is commemorated in El Salvador, mainly by the Fundación Monseñor Romero.
This year's celebration began on Monday the 17th with various activities and will end next Sunday with a Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Salvador.
But the "Big Day" of the celebration will be Saturday, when the traditional "Pilgrimage of Light" will take place which goes through the main streets of San Salvador to the cathedral where the remains of the martyred bishop are buried.
Romero was "humble" and "shy", but when "he got into the pulpit, he would change", he would denounce all the injustices of those times and defend the poorest and most helpless, Urioste recalled.
He was a "great prophet" who was never afraid, he concluded.
The Truth Commission, which investigated the crimes committed during the civil war, indicated as one of the main authors of the archbishop's homicide the now defunct military man, Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of the right-wing Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA), the party that ruled the country for 20 years (1989-2009) and is now in the opposition.
Although the current government has apologized for Romero's death and has honored him in various ways, such as naming the airport and the presidential honors lounge after him, his murder continues to go unpunished 34 years later, like many that were committed during the Salvadoran civil war.