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Archbishop Oscar Romero was a martyr, declare Vatican theologians

A flag with an image of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero (Photo: CNS)

Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered “in hatred of the faith”, a panel of theologians at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has ruled.

The decision, reported by the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire, is a huge step on the Salvadoran archbishop’s path to canonisation, a process that began at the diocesan stage in 1994, 14 years after his murder on March 24, 1980. It has been with Rome since 1997, promoted by the postulator Mgr Vincenzo Paglia.

Archbishop Romero was assassinated while serving Mass in El Salvador in 1980 by Right-wing death squads. His murder came a day after he had said in a homily that soldiers should obey God’s commands and put down their guns.

Archbishop Romero in 1979 (Photo: CNS)
Archbishop Romero in 1979 (Photo: CNS)

Archbishop Romero’s Cause was opened at the Vatican two decades ago but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for political reasons. In 2013 Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and official promoter of Archbishop Romero’s Cause, said the process had been “unblocked”.

Last year Robert Mickens of Global Pulse said that Archbishop Romero will “almost certainly” be beatified in 2015, and that Francis may skip the beatification and canonise him in San Salvador.

In May 2014 Pope Francis assured the bishops of El Salvador that the Cause of the murdered archbishop was proceeding.