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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Beatification of Archbishop Romero of El Salvadore

At least 250,000 people have filled the streets of the capital San Salvador for the beatification ceremony.

When a person becomes worthy of Roman Catholic beatification, the process opens the road toward canonization or "Sainthood". 

For some reason unknown to me (and lots of other outsiders), the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvadore was more about Roman Catholic political dynamics than a focus on spiritual sanctity.

A youthful Father Oscar Romero with Salvadorans
(Photo courtesy of the Archbishop Romero Trust)
Perhaps Archbishop Romero was too embroiled in politics to garner support from the men who select saints, I don't know. Nevertheless, for whatever the reason, the martyred Archbishop prevailed and he's now "Blessed Oscar Romero".

Today, May 22 
Oscar Romero beatification drew huge El Salvador crowds

Oscar Romero - the Roman Catholic archbishop murdered during the 1980-92 civil war - was beatified at a ceremony in El Salvador attended by huge crowds.
At least 250,000 people have filled the streets of the capital San Salvador for the ceremony.

It is the last step before Archbishop Romero is declared a saint.

He was shot dead by a sniper as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel on 24 March 1980.

No-one has been prosecuted for the murder.

The beatification ceremony was presided over by Vatican envoy Cardinal Angelo Amato, who made a call for forgiveness.

"His preference for the poor was not ideological, but evangelical. His charity extended to his persecutors," he said.

Jule's note- Archbishop Romero's beatfication is yet another overt signal from the Jesuit Pope Francis about the human responsibility to take care of the millions and millions of the world's poor. Regardless of how "political" Archbishop may have been or not, he was immersed in activism to take care of the poor.

Archbishop Romero wasn't murdered by an assassin because he was defending the Roman Catholic faith (like Saint Thomas Becket who was also murdered, in Canterbury England, in 1170). 

Instead, Romero was defending the poor, while the Church in Rome didn't do much to help his efforts. 

After Romero's death, the Church didn't do much to advance his cause for beatification, either.

Until today, when he was finally beatified.

"Archbishop Romero's spirit remains alive and gives comfort to the marginalised people of the world," added Cardinal Amato.
'Proper reconciliation'

About 80,000 people died and 12,000 disappeared during the war in the Central American nation.

In a letter to the Archbishop of San Salvador, Luis Escobar Alas, Pope Francis said the beatification of Archbishop Romero created "a favourable moment for true and proper reconciliation.

"In this day of joy for El Salvador and also for other Latin American countries, we thank God for giving the martyr archbishop the ability to see and feel the suffering of his people," said the Pope in his letter.
At the scene: Katy Watson, BBC News

Archbishop Romero's Beatification

People started arriving overnight, keen to get a spot to watch what many people think is a long overdue recognition of a regional hero.

The people of El Salvador, carrying banners and chanting songs, were joined by people across the continent and further afield.

His supporters are not just those who lived through the civil war but younger generations too, who have listened to their homilies and say that his message was one of truth-telling and denouncing evil.

Oscar Romero is still a controversial figure in this divided country, though. There are those who feel he was more guerrilla than man of God. But they are not out in the crowds today.

The event began with a procession from the cathedral - where Archbishop Romero's remains lie in a crypt - to Saviour of the World square in the centre of San Salvador, several kilometres away.

Giant TV screens were placed across the capital so that those away from the stage can watch the ceremony.
'Stop the repression'

Archbishop Oscar Romero was not just a churchman. He took a stand during El Salvador's darkest moments, the BBC's Central America reporter Katy Watson says.

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