PDF The Martyr of El Salvador: The Assassination of Óscar Romero

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Archbishop Oscar Romero Assassination El Salvador 1980

Simultaneously, Romero had eloquently upheld the gospel and effectively signed his own death warrant. He had served as auxiliary bishop there for four years before his three years as bishop of Santiago de Maria. After earning a doctorate in ascetical theology, he returned home and became a parish priest and later rector of an interdiocesan seminary.

Three weeks after his appointment as archbishop, Romero was shaken by the murder of his good friend Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, a vigorous defender of the rights of the poor.

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Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero

When a military junta seized control of the national government in , Archbishop Romero publicly criticized the US government for backing the junta. His weekly radio sermons, broadcast throughout the country, were regarded by many as the most trustworthy source of news available. His tomb in the cathedral crypt soon drew thousands of visitors each year. On February 3, , Pope Francis authorized a decree recognizing Oscar Romero as a martyr for the faith.

Óscar Romero

The left and the right blamed each other for sparking the violence. Conservatives within the church long blocked efforts to name Romero a saint, arguing he was slain for his politics, not his religion. Francis, a Jesuit from Argentina who became pope in , and whose core belief is helping the poor, has made Romero's ascension a priority. He cleared the way for him to be beatified in and now for canonization, the last step to sainthood. Normally, candidates for sainthood have to be attached to two miracles.

Martyr priest, now Saint Romero, challenged power in El Salvador - Reuters

In Romero's case, however, he is declared a martyr— killed for his faith — which means only one miracle had to be attributed to him. The miracle that cleared the way for Romero's sainthood concerned the medically inexplicable cure of a pregnant, terminally ill Salvadoran woman who made a sudden recovery after her husband prayed to Romero, Vatican officials said.

James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, said the Romero announcement signals a shift away from past conflicts for the church — and rights a historical wrong. Many have waited decades for this moment. Many Salvadoran refugees who fled the war saw themselves reflected in Romero, who used to visit pueblos and sit on the ground, alongside the road, eating sandwiches with villagers.


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They named a clinic and a junior high after Romero. Last year, a street was also named in his honor.


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  • Skip to content. A youth holds a portrait of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador after the Vatican's announcement on March 7, , that he will be canonized. For some, the pending canonization brought hope during a trying time for Salvadorans.