A bishop from Panama, where World Youth Day 2019 will be held, has suggested the martyr Blessed Óscar Romero as its patron.
Bishop Manuel Ochogavia Barahona of Colon, Panama, told the Catholic News Service that the people of Central America “have a great affection” for Romero, and that the Salvadoran archbishop remains a symbol of hope.
“I think that it would be an honour for us to have this theme of Blessed Óscar Romero, and that he may truly accompany us,” he said.
Bishop Ochogavia told CNS that they were at initial meetings with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and that themes and patron saints of the event “will be developing in the coming months.”
Bishop Ochogavia went to Pope Francis’ weekly general audience in Rome after attending World Youth Day in Krakow. He was joined by Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama and Cardinal Jose Lacunza Maestrojuan of David.
Archbishop Ulloa told journalists yesterday that Blessed Óscar is a role model for pastors, a shepherd who was close to his people and who “gave his life for others.”
While the Vatican asks bishops to make suggestions, the final decision on whether Romero will become a patron of the 2019 celebration lies with Pope Francis.
Romero was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass in the chapel of a local hospital. His death occurred one day after calling on the government to end its violation of human rights against the population. Pope Francis recognised his martyrdom and he was beatified in May 2015.
After the Salvadoran archbishop’s beatification, the Pope expressed his admiration for Blessed Óscar and his “attention to the most poor and marginalised.”
“At the moment of his death, while he celebrated the holy sacrifice of love and reconciliation, he received the grace to identify himself fully with the one who gave his life for his sheep,” Pope Francis wrote in a recent letter to Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador.