Pope Francis to declare slain Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint | News | DW | 19.05.2018

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Pope Francis to declare slain Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint

Romero was an outspoken advocate for the poor, shot dead at the start of El Salvador's civil war in 1980. At the same sanctification ceremony, German nun Maria Katharina Kasper and Pope Paul VI are also to be canonized.

Pope Francis said on Saturday that the Catholic archbishop murdered 38 years ago in San Salvador’s Chapel of Divine Providence would be made a saint at a Vatican ceremony on October 14.

An outspoken advocate for the poor, Romero was killed at the start of El Salvador’s civil war, which lasted until 1992. A single shot was fired in the chapel and the 63-year-old archbishop fell dead. Outside, a man left the scene at high speed in a car.  

The church process towards declaring him a saint was delayed as theologians discussed whether the Archbishop's death qualified as a killing out of "hatred for the faith," which defines martyrdom. Pope Francis decided it did, and approved the measure in 2015.

The Pope ruled that Romero could be declared a saint after a Vatican theological and medical commission approved a miracle attributed to him, the details of which were not announced.

Champion of the poor

  • Romero was known as a champion of El Salvador’s poor and his name became intertwined with liberation theology. He had spoken out against repression by the army.
  • A UN-sponsored truth commission found in 1993 that Roberto D’Aubuisson, a former army major and founder of the right-wing Arena party, had ordered the murder.
  • The day before his murder, Romero had delivered a speech telling soldiers and police they were not required to obey an order that was "against the law of God."
  • The civil war claimed some 75,000 lives before it ended with a peace agreement in 1992.
  • In 1993, the Vatican opened the process to declare Romero "blessed," the Catholic Church’s highest honor before sainthood.
    Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 will be named a saint in 2018

    Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 will be named a saint in 2018

El Salvadorean Cardinal Jose Gregorio Rosa Chavez and other bishops from the Central American country had written to Pope Francis asking for the canonization to be celebrated in El Salvador.

"We asked this to allow the poor to be close to their pastor," Chavez said in a television interview. "But if this is not possible we asked the Pope to visit Romero’s tomb during his trip to Panama" in January 2019.

Nineteenth century German nun 

Maria Katharina Kasper was born in the south west of Germany in 1820. 

She founded the religious order of the Dernbacher Sisters, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, whose mission was to care for the old and the sick. 

Today, the community she founded is active across many countries and has 600 sisters.

"The canonization of Katharina Kasper is a unique event for our diocese and for the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ that we will jointly celebrate," Limbourg Bishop George Baetzing said.

Blessed by Pope Paul VI in 1978, the Vatican recognized as a miracle Kasper's curing of an Indian man. 

Papal saint

Read more: Pope approves sainthood for Paul VI and slain Archbishop Romero

Argentine Pope Francis had announced the decision to make Paul VI, who led the church from 1963 until his death in 1978, a saint last February. 

Pope Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council in 1965, and a year later said "holiness is within everyone’s reach." We only need two elements in order to become saints: "the grace of God and good will."

He will be canonized in St Peter’s Square in October at the same ceremony honoring Archbishop Romero and Katharina Kasper.  

Pope Francis has already made John XXIII and John Paul II saints.

kw/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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