Salvadoran priest Oscar Romero to be declared saint by Pope Francis
The canonization of the assassinated archbishop will take place on Sunday in Rome
Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran priest who championed social justice for the poor and dispossessed, will be proclaimed a saint by Pope Francis in a canonization ceremony in Rome on Sunday, almost four decades after he was assassinated by a right wing death squad.
The former archbishop of San Salvador, who was closely associated with the Latin American liberation theology movement of the 1960s and 70s, will be canonized along with six others at the ceremony in St Peter’s Square. They include Pope Paul VI, who oversaw the sweeping Vatican II reforms of the Catholic church in the 1960s.
For years, conservatives within the church sought to block Romero’s canonization because of his association with liberation theology, a movement whose followers argued that it was not enough for the church to empathize with and care for the poor. Instead, they said, the church needed to push for political and structural changes to eradicate poverty, even – some believed – if this meant supporting armed struggle against oppressors.
Clare Dixon, head of the Catholic aid agency Cafod’s Latin America region, said: “Oscar Romero is revered in his native El Salvador. He ranks alongside the likes of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi as one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century.
Civil war still a bitter memory as El Salvador prepares to beatify Romero
“His canonization will give Romero the wider recognition he so richly deserves. He denounced the violence which was tearing his country apart; he spoke out against oppression, and stood against injustice alongside people living in poverty.”